Jun 022018
 

Annihilation is one of the better surprises of 2018 as going in my interest levels were mild at best after seeing the lackluster trailers. But afterwards, it is a movie that has been on my mind for all the good reasons and is a highlight performance from Natalie Portman.

 

 

Annihilation
(2018)

Genre(s): Science Fiction, Drama, Fantasy
Paramount | R – 115 min. – $29.99 | May 29, 2018

Date Published: 06/02/2018 | Author: The Movieman


MOVIE INFO:
Directed by: Alex Garland
Writer(s): Jeff Vandermeer (book); Alex Garland (written for the screen)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Oscar Isaac
DISC INFO:
Features: Featurettes
Digital Copy: Yes
Formats Included: 4K, Blu-ray
Number of Discs: 2
Audio (4K/BD): English (Dolby Atmos), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video (4K): 2160p/Widescreen 2.40
Video (BD): 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Dynamic Range: HDR10
Subtitles (4K/BD): English SDH, French, Spanish
Codecs: HEVC / H.265 (4K), MPEG-4 AVC (BD)
Region(s): A, B, C

Paramount Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.


THE MOVIE — 4.25/5


Note: This does contain some plot spoilers, so reader beware.

I must admit something up front: after seeing the different TV spots and trailers, my interest level on Annihilation couldn’t have been lower, likely similar sentiments from others considering the film’s lackluster box office. But after watching, I found this to be a great sci-fi/drama, equal in many regards to 2016’s much rightfully lauded Arrival.

The film focuses on Lena (NATALIE PORTMAN) whose husband, Kane (OSCAR ISAAC), has been gone missing during a secret mission for a year, though she is having trouble moving on. However, one day he makes an unexpected return, but something is different and he can’t explain where he’s been. He begins having medical problems and is whisked away, during an ambulance trip, by government agents along with Lena.

Lena soon learns about his mission. A year earlier, an asteroid-like object crashes along the coastline and a sphere or boundary had formed, something they termed a “Shimmer”, and has been encroaching further and further. Any explorations inside this Shimmer resulted in not only no communication but no one ever returning… until Kane.

With the Shimmer expanding, the authorities are growing anxious and are set for another entry with Lena, with a background in both biology and military service, volunteering. Other members include team leader Ventress (JENNIFER JASON LEIGH), paramedic Anya Thorensen (GINA RODRIGUEZ), astrophysicist Josie Radek (TESSA THOMPSON) and anthropologist Cass Sheppard (TUVA NOVOTNY). The five together enter the Shimmer and are immediately affected when they awaken with no memory of setting up a base camp plus having lost three days. They make further advancement where they encounter a mutated alligator and witness some other biological alterations.

I won’t go much further in order to keep some of the plot a mystery, but needless to say, next to Arrival, Annihilation had a story that did keep me at the edge of my seat with each twist and turn, even a couple I could see coming, adding in a few truly frightening scenes, none more so than the finale sequence.

The movie was, once again, brilliantly directed by Alex Garland as his follow-up to the dark yet amazing Ex Machina, though by comparison doesn’t nearly have as depressing ending… In any case, while this was based on the first novel of the Southern Reach Trilogy, although apparently he made numerous changes that it likely bares very much of a resemblance.  Having never read the book, I can’t comment exactly how it compares, but speaking for the movie, it was one hell of a trip, a balance between a dream and an utter nightmare, more so the latter, however.

But beyond the interesting plot and direction, the acting from the core cast were all well done, headlined by Natalie Portman who probably gave one of her better performances since maybe the darkly delectable Black Swan. Not to be overshadowed, Gina Rodriguez also holds her own while Tessa Thompson’s character gets a bit short-changed by does have one emotionally poignant scene near the end.

All in all, Annihilation was just a wonderful, and unexpected, surprise of a movie that I found captivating from beginning to end and has stuck with in the days afterward.

SPECIAL FEATURES – 4.25/5


This release comes with a glossy and reflective slip cover and includes a redemption code for the Digital HD copy.

The featurettes are split into 3 parts and within those, tackles various subjects presented in the movie as well as the origins on how Alex Garland became interested in the project, to the casting of the (mostly) female cast, the plot and the visual effects. Below is a breakdown.

Part 1 – Southern Reach (26:15; HD)

  • Refractions
  • For Those That Follow

Part 2 – Area X (27:07; HD)

  • Shimmer
  • Vanished Into Havoc

Part 3 – To the Lighthouse (19:43; HD)

  • Unfathomable Mind
  • The Last Phase

All told, there is 73-minutes worth of material here and although it doesn’t match something like the Lord of the Rings, in today’s day and age, a movie that didn’t do all that well the studio could’ve easily just slapped on some thin featurettes and called it a day, thankfully they did not. These are well worth checking out.

 


4K VIDEO – 4.5/5, BD VIDEO – 4.0/5


Annihilation comes to 4K UHD and Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and given a 2160p and 1080p high-definition transfers respectively. On the 4K, I was honestly a bit underwhelmed, although for the most part detail was good, there were some softer shots and it’s only until we get towards the finale when the ultra HD part really shines through, however there were flashes of nice colors in other spots as well. Kind of surprising as this was shot natively in 6K and finished in 4K.

The Blu-ray has similar issues with looking a bit soft in many places and also doesn’t get the benefit of the HDR like the 4K format. Even so, the Blu-ray still does look quite nice.

AUDIO – 5.0/5


The audio end of the spectrum, thankfully, does not disappoint. The included Dolby Atmos track actually is restrained in parts, and this is a good thing actually. Now, dialogue levels do come across with clarity, but other elements are more low key, mainly ambient noises while inside the Shimmer, other than the occasional bear or alligator attack. But where this picks up is perhaps in one of the better parts of the film: the finale. Again, don’t want to spoil anything, but the Atmos track is used to great effect.

 


OVERALL – 4.5/5


Overall, Annihilation is one of the better surprises of 2018 as going in my interest levels were mild at best after seeing the lackluster trailers. But afterwards, it is a movie that has been on my mind for all the good reasons and is a highlight performance from Natalie Portman. This 4K UHD, which is a Best Buy exclusive as of this writing, features excellent video and audio transfers and a fair amount of bonus material.

 

 

 

 

The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.

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