Review by Michelle Lynn Tackett
1 Star: Help me! I need to stop watching this crap!
2 stars: Not bad, but not good.
3 Stars: A good movie that I enjoyed.
4 Stars: A must watch. A classic you won’t regret watching.
I often say that moviegoers don’t listen to critics enough. People miss out on real gems just to see the latest blockbuster because of brilliant marketing. After people are let down by the big blockbuster, they wonder why they spent 40 to 50 dollars. When I heard about the glowing reviews for Annihilation, I was ecstatic! Natalie Portman is one of my favorite actresses, I adore Gine Rodriguez in Jane the Virgin, and it’s a dark sci-fi movie with deep metaphors, this sounded like a perfect movie for me, how could it go wrong? Well, let’s get into that.
Here is the big problem I have with this movie. The lifeless, forgettable characters who show as much emotion as Arnold Schwarzenegger in the first Terminator movie. He was supposed to be an emotionless killing machine, what’s their excuse? You have 2 talented actresses, and somehow you manage to give them lifeless characters with zero personality. I don’t even remember their names, nor do I care to remember. When you watch a movie that deals with complex issues, you want to identify with the character’s problems and the issues they face in the movie. Even if they aren’t nice people, you want them to hold your interest so you care about what happens. I just didn’t care what happened to these characters. They didn’t give me a reason to care. The characters in the book had no names, that explains why they’re so bland. No one bothered to think of personalities for these characters so they could connect us to the story. That is a sign of poor writing.
The directing isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either. There are some nice landscapes and the colors are crisp, but the director did a horrible job with the acting. They deliver such clunky dialogue, that you want to walk out while watching it. Some scenes are nice, but Alex Garland doesn’t do a good job setting up some of the so-called scares. In one scene, our heroes meet up with a deadly creature that can talk for some reason. There is no set up why and the delivery felt clunky. Mr. Garland needs to learn how to set up situations where we can care about the situation happening. Also, pick better music for your movies. The music was so overpowering in some scenes, I had to cover my ears. Making the music blaring, doesn’t make the scene any better. Good sci-fi has a clear vision of what the director is trying to convey to the audience. Garland doesn’t do that, and it causes us not to care. The movie feels cold and lifeless. You don’t want to say that about a sci-fi movie.
Alex Garland also wrote the screenplay. It could have used some rewrites. The metaphors how war can traumatize people are there, but the delivery is way too clunky. Great sci-fi, fantasy or horror has clear motives by the characters. What are the motivations? Why is this happening? The more confusing layers he tries to add to the story, the less we care what happens. I don’t remember any lines from the movie. Nothing left a lasting impression on me. There is too much ambiguity in the screenplay. Some people will say, “They leave it up to you.” Yes, but you want to give people some room to what the message is. There is none, it is so wide open, that we can make it anything we want. That is why the screenplay fails. Jordan Peele’s US had a clearer message, (that’s bad btw). That is how bad the message was conveyed in this movie.
Besides what I’ve stated above. The acing is flat, the characters are boring, the scary scenes aren’t scary, and the special effects are embarrassing. Special effects don’t make a movie for me, but when you put them in a movie, you want them to work. They don’t have to be dazzling, or the most detailed. They just have to work in the context of the movie. The CGI looks out of place and it takes you out of the moment. You know you’re in trouble when you don’t care if the characters get eaten alive. That is a bad sign. This movie bored me so much, I wanted to take some knock out pills just to put me out of my misery.
This movie frustrated me so much. I wanted to like it so badly. Gina and Natalie are 2 of my favorites and seeing them in a movie this bad makes me cry You don’t want to be relieved when the movie is over, but I was. I was so glad this slog of a movie was over. I could move, I was free! No more headache of a story, and no more bland acting with horrible dialogue to make me want to chug down a case of Pepto to relieve the pain I felt. The movie does pick up at the end, but by the time it does, I didn’t care. I wanted the movie to end. Its got a ‘big” plot twist, that seems tacked on. This is the kind of movie I want to love, but the poor writing, directing and acting sunk it. Without anyone to care for, I wanted the movie over as fast as possible. The astonishing thing is, this movie got great reviews. It is setting at 88% on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe this is why audiences don’t trust critics. When critics think a boring hack of a movie like this is good, it does take some of the trust away.
My Score: 1 star some decent scenery and directing cannot save this boring, bland, and confusing movie from being a wreck. Next time, write a complete script with good characters and a story that will engage us. Not make us want to run for the exit.
Photo Courtesy of: http://riotheatre.ca/movie/annihilation/