In a move that may be a sign of things to come, 2018 Paramount sci-fi feature Annihilation is having a premiere outside of the US on Netflix.

The film by director Alex Garland (Ex-Machina, 28 Days Later, Sunshine) was only released in the US on February 23, grossing $20.6m. A move to stream through all other territories may be Hollywood’s new frontier.

Whilst this is so visual it probably deserves to be seen on the big screen, the good news is the journey makes it all worthwhile.

Natalie Portman stars as biologist Lena, whose soldier husband returns home from service after 12 months in a daze, before dramatically collapsing. The inciting incident propels her to seek answers from a secretive military.

But stern psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) reveals his mission involved ‘Area X’, a coastal land mass which was hit by a meteor. Over recent months a strange force known as “the Shimmer” is devouring all in its path and growing. On one side of its transparent perimeter it looks like a giant lava lamp / melting soap bubble. On the other side radio signals vanish, along with personnel who have investigated.

But like the new Ghostbusters, 5 women -including Lena and Dr. Ventress- arm themselves to face whatever evils or horrors lurk within. From this point Annihilation plays with its genre: part-horror / action / sci-fi / hero’s journey. There are CGI bumps in the night that will leave you grateful to be this side of the soap bubble.

Also in this dysfunctional troupe are tough paramedic Anya (Gina Rodriguez), physicist Josie (Tessa Thompson) and geologist Cass (Tuva Novotny) who come face to face with peril in all its twisted guises. But Lena’s biology background will uncover the Shimmer’s secrets.

Portman underplays the emotions to considerable effect, allowing supporting players to turn on the necessary hysteria and emotive responses. She is cool in the face of adversity, but tough when the script gets going. By contrast, a dour Jennifer Jason Leigh is dry to the point of Nurse Ratched….

Visually Annihilation turns it on, both in concept and design. There are some twisted ideas, colour and movement to take you on a ride. After disappointing Netflix sci-fi sojourns with Mute and The Cloverfield Paradox (redeemed somewhat by Altered Carbon), Annihilation delivers a good night in.

Annihilation airs Monday March 12 on Netflix.


  1. Gave this a go last night after reading your review here David. It started off very slowly and the whispering breathy dialogue for about the first half hour irritated me. I hate this new actors trend and it must be stopped immediately haha. I almost turned it off because of it. However, I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. Once they got into the science behind what was causing the anomaly my interest started to pick up. Then, once the alligator showed up and then the bear…Wow!!! I was hooked. The visuals were stunning. Without giving anything away, the end scene’s visuals and haunting music will give me nightmares for weeks. Brilliantly done.
    Overall I loved it but the over use of the whispering breathy performances in the beginning to try and give boring dialogue a sense of drama almost ruined it.

  2. jezza the first original one

    I am glad this was ‘free’ on netflix, it was slow going. However by the end, I found it a good scifi/horror with an open ended twist. I liked the use of guns, they were an essential part of the movie given some of the nasty creatures. Why pump ’em with 1 bullet when you can fire off 20 eh? Guns and shootings are just a normal part of everyday American life.

  3. Hey Chuck, if they didn’t have guns would you be saying, “In light of recent movements it seems somewhat unfortunate that the all female cast don’t have guns like Hemsorth’s guys on the posters for 12 Strong”?

    • ‘Guns’ covers a wide spectrum, especially for self defence-having the whole central cast packing the things is over the top and poor timing-the ’12 Strong’ comparison doesn’t hold water as it’s a military ops film based on actual events in Afghanistan 2002.

  4. Despite hollywood’s appetite for virtue signaling, even hollywood promotes AR15s as a device for effective personal protection…but it appears it’s ok when ratings, profits and artistic licence is concerned.

    • Yes, but it is a movie with action as a theme, it reminds me of Europe’s attempt censor WWII history to unify former warring countries, it only works if there is a large enough community consensus. Gun control still has a long way to go to find any real consensus for change, especially in America.

      • Actually it does have large support in the US but the gerrymandered and otherwise rigged US electoral system ensures that it’s just not represented-and if only those damned deer hadn’t started to shoot back, hunters wouldn’t need M16s now!

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