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Annihilation

Lena’s (Natalie Portman) husband (played by Oscar Isaac) has been missing for over a year when one day he suddenly turns up at her door and, shortly after that, begins bleeding internally. During the ambulance ride, they are waylaid, and she wakes up to find herself at a strange facility. The lead psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has been trying to investigate a shimmer that has descended upon a lighthouse near New Orleans and is growing larger. Lena decides that she has to join an expedition to understand what is happening inside the shimmer. The movie is fascinating. The story is told as a combination of present day, flashback, and flash-forward that keeps the story unsettling and suspenseful. Lena, a geneticist, joins a team of smart women who all have their reasons for joining the expedition that becomes clear as the movie unfolds. There is enough sci-fi strangeness to keep things interesting, and the last 30 minutes of the film are quite dazzling and spectacular to watch – and leave the possibility for multiple interpretations (and a likely sequel). Thumbs up for a movie that feels a lot like Arrival in many respects; while I think Arrival is the better movie regarding its use of flashbacks and flash-forwards, I enjoyed Annihilation as a heady, somewhat old-school sci-fi yarn.

About Gary Burkholder

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