Movie Review: Annihilation (2018)

Movie Review: Annihilation (2018)

Does the new sci-fi thriller improve upon its source material, or does it fall prey to its own problems?

"Annihilation" is a new sci-fi thriller from acclaimed writer/director Alex Garland ("Ex Machina"), based on the 2014 novel of the same name. When evaluating film adaptations of books, it can often be difficult to separate your feelings on the source material from the film's execution of events. It becomes all too easy to pick apart an adaptation because of inaccuracies to the book or casting decisions that do not reflect the reader's mental image of a given character, and so forth. Adapting books to screen, particularly a book like "Annihilation", which is focused on the main character's internal thoughts, is a difficult process and it is more useful to determine its measure of success on how closely the film captures the general idea and spirit of the source material rather than its accuracy of minutiae. On that note, the film adaptation of "Annihilation" fails both at capturing the spirit of the novel while also failing to work as a compelling thriller in its own right.

The film is told in flashbacks as Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist, is interviewed in a government facility. She is the only surviving member of a group of five scientists who were sent to investigate a large swath of land known only as "the shimmer", an area subject to strange phenomena and from which no previous expedition had returned. Lena, it is revealed, was recruited onto the team after her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), inexplicably appeared in her home a year after his own expedition team disappeared in the shimmer. Both the government and Lena are want to find out what happened to Kane's team and why he is suddenly suffering from multiple organ failure after his return from the shimmer. As Lena and the expedition team venture into the shimmer, they notice strange mutations in the flora and fauna, and begin to wonder if these mutations may be affecting them as well. After finding video footage of Kane's team mutilating a mutated crew member, Lena's expedition team begins to descend into paranoia as they advance toward their assigned destination point, a lighthouse.

The biggest problem I have with "Annihilation" is its lack of drive. There is never a sense of urgency in the story. The expedition team merely wanders from point to point, discovering clues at random intervals. Their destination is a lighthouse, but there is no urgency in the plot to get there. Even as the scientists are picked off by mutant creatures and the forces present in the shimmer, there is no sense of increased tension or rising action. We know that Lena will be the only survivor since she is recounting the story in flashbacks, which further hampers any chance at suspense. In particular, there is a scene in which the crew is attacked by a mutated bear creature. It is difficult to remain invested in the proceedings because we already know Lena will make it out alive; it is merely a question of which of the other scientists will get eaten, and the movie hardly cares enough about the supporting characters for me to care either. The other four members of the expeditions are varying degrees of bland, with a particularly underwhelming performance from Jennifer Jason Leigh. I think she was attempting reserved stoicism, but it comes across like she is half-asleep for most of her scenes.

My other issue with "Annihilation" is its lack of atmosphere. The shimmer is supposed to be uncanny and off-putting, a subtle distortion of normality. Unfortunately the production design team took that to mean "make everything look like an oil slick rainbow". The movie is an eyesore, full of garish colors and lens flares. Hardly what I would call unsettling. Even the mutated plants and animals are underwhelming. There is fluorescent-colored lichen every now and then, and some weird flowers. How spooky. The creature design is limited to "what if regular animals had more teeth than normal, or maybe a skull face?". The concept of the uncanny, that not-quite-right unease, is a difficult one to achieve in movies, but "Annihilation" does not even try to make an attempt.

I wanted to like "Annihilation". The book is full of interesting ideas and an unsettling atmosphere, but is too vague on many key plot details to really work as a whole. I had hoped that the film adaptation could improve on the novel's weaknesses and strengthen the ill-defined details, all while maintaining the creepy atmosphere of the uncanny and paranoia. While the film certainly does restructure the book (to the point where it barely resembles it), it does so in a way that does not improve upon the novel's structural issues. The flashbacks-within-flashbacks in the film are somehow even clunkier than the regular flashbacks in the novel. "Annihilation" is a film that does not work as an adaptation nor as a standalone work. I wish the movie had been better, but like many other book adaptations before it, maybe "Annihilation" just was not meant to be adapted to the screen.

Rating: 4/10

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

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The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

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