Annihilation!

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chimp_spanner
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13 Mar 2018

Who else has seen this movie? It came to Netflix in the UK yesterday, so I watched it first chance I got. Obviously, spoilers ahead so if you haven't seen it yet, back out now!

Really curious to see what others thought, though. I mean firstly, I really enjoyed it as a visual experience and as a sci-fi movie. And it had a couple of really unforgettable moments (the plant humanoids and the bear that absorbs the dying screams of its victim as a lure...nightmares for days). And the way the Shimmer was realised on screen was really interesting. There was a very Lovecraftian feel to the whole movie, that whatever the Shimmer was it was so beyond human understanding that it would literally drive you insane and corrupt the very essence of your being. That was by far the scariest thing about the movie. Just something so unfathomable, without any wants or demands. Not even a force OF nature, but a force beyond nature.

With that said, any ideas as to what it actually was? I had several ideas in my head, ranging from some kind of life-seeding tool sent to a planet with life already on it by mistake, to some kind of ancient, elementary force of creation; an integral part of the universe. Almost god like? I even thought maybe it was some kind of artificial intelligence, as its natural form was so geometrically perfect (that kind of endlessly imploding fractal thing).

Obviously the ending sets us up for a world in which the Shimmer is set loose in the world through Lena and Kane. Although there's some ambiguity over whether Lena is infected or replaced. Kane is definitely a doppelganger.

Anyway those are just some random, incoherent thoughts on the film. Interested to hear yours!
Enjoy!

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dhruan
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14 Mar 2018

I loved it! It had some issues (for example, who sends a team like that out into the unknown with just plain ol' ARs instead of fitting them with optics/image enhancers or suppressors). Anyhoo... that aside it had a great vibe to it, everything gelled together nice even though I would have loved to see more of what went on in the Shimmer. The idea of 'chaos' came to mind also... everything mixing together in this DNA blender. Wow.

The movie was great production value wise and a lovely presentation of the other wordly, indeed... I also liked the Lovecraftian vibe that it had, overall it was kind of reminiscent of The Thing.

Bonus points for very interesting sound design, it supported the visuals especially in the encounters with the "other". Would love to give this one a go on a proper theater and sound system.

Would I hazard a guess to what it was? Could be a way to colonize already inhabitable planets and morph them to their liking. As in, I think the whole blender thing was there to help give form to something that was initially only a "pattern" that was stored in a format and a medium that could withstand most anything that was thrown at it while traveling across the vast hostile distances of space.

If you think of space travel that is one of the greatest challenges that we humans face. The space itself. Our carbon based forms have evolved to a sheltered life on this planet of ours, to a certain gravity and range of temperatures. Exposure to zero gravity alone is enough to cause major havoc over time, not to mention the effects of radiation and cosmic rays that are enough of a bother to cause major complications just on a slower trip to Mars... even if you survive the trip you will get radiation poisoning and whatnot (provided you are not cooked by radiation before that).

How to overcome that? You need to either create a vessel that protects the lifeforms inside or... get rid of the parts prone to damage and injury. I.e. our "meat suits". Something akin to the "Stack" technology in Altered Carbon could be the key but I am quite sure that we will find a solution to up armor our vessels meant for space travel long before that.
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raymondh
Posts: 1029
Joined: 15 Jan 2015

14 Mar 2018

I really enjoyed the movie too, for all the reasons you listed.

In some ways, this reminds me of Star Trek’s The Borg, the assimilation concept.
But in this case it seems more chaotic and somehow organic.
Fascinating concept!

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selig
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14 Mar 2018

chimp_spanner wrote:
13 Mar 2018
Who else has seen this movie? It came to Netflix in the UK yesterday, so I watched it first chance I got. Obviously, spoilers ahead so if you haven't seen it yet, back out now!

Really curious to see what others thought, though. I mean firstly, I really enjoyed it as a visual experience and as a sci-fi movie. And it had a couple of really unforgettable moments (the plant humanoids and the bear that absorbs the dying screams of its victim as a lure...nightmares for days). And the way the Shimmer was realised on screen was really interesting. There was a very Lovecraftian feel to the whole movie, that whatever the Shimmer was it was so beyond human understanding that it would literally drive you insane and corrupt the very essence of your being. That was by far the scariest thing about the movie. Just something so unfathomable, without any wants or demands. Not even a force OF nature, but a force beyond nature.

With that said, any ideas as to what it actually was? I had several ideas in my head, ranging from some kind of life-seeding tool sent to a planet with life already on it by mistake, to some kind of ancient, elementary force of creation; an integral part of the universe. Almost god like? I even thought maybe it was some kind of artificial intelligence, as its natural form was so geometrically perfect (that kind of endlessly imploding fractal thing).

Obviously the ending sets us up for a world in which the Shimmer is set loose in the world through Lena and Kane. Although there's some ambiguity over whether Lena is infected or replaced. Kane is definitely a doppelganger.

Anyway those are just some random, incoherent thoughts on the film. Interested to hear yours!
There are three books in the series, so definitely sequel!
There are some interesting additional details in the book (my GF is currently reading it, I'm next). One is that the four women are hypnotized before entering the shimmer (to help them deal with the transition), which explains why they were confused the first few days - but the movie leaves this out and was very confusing. I was expecting that effect to continue, which would have been an interesting sub-plot. But the fact it's not mentioned, and only happens at first, was a little confusing. Put that one down to the "Hollywood" effect (changing things for no good reason).
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Jmax
Posts: 491
Joined: 03 Apr 2015

14 Mar 2018

I thought the movie was pretty awful. Not a great script, so-so concept. Yet another sci-fi B movie. Tried not to fall asleep pretty much. Not sure what all the hype is about.

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bxbrkrz
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14 Mar 2018

Jmax wrote:
14 Mar 2018
I thought the movie was pretty awful. Not a great script, so-so concept. Yet another sci-fi B movie. Tried not to fall asleep pretty much. Not sure what all the hype is about.
Box Office
Budget:$40,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend USA: $11,071,584, 25 February 2018, Wide Release
Gross USA: $26,653,168, 12 March 2018


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plaamook
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15 Mar 2018

As a concept I thought it was very interesting and it was well portrayed in many respects. The Thing meets Avatar with typically (these days) daft human interaction. However...

Why not use a diver style set up with hard wired comms on an umbilical line?
Or exposure suits?
Or you could shoot data transmissions out of the shimmer with a rocket style device?
And the mutatd grizzly...Where were they that had both aligators, spanish moss, and grizzlies? A zoo?
What about the mutated microbes? Surely they would have made a mess of shit, breathing in things that would send your immune system haywire etc.

VFX were good. Sound was good except for the stupid strumming guitar.

7/10 I was disapointed

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Faastwalker
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18 Mar 2018

I’d been looking forward to watching this in the cinema here in Aus. Next thing I know there’s talk of it appearing on Netflix & suddenly there it is! Watched it the day it appeared. I really enjoyed it. It’s quite out there & very creepy in parts. I wished some of the ideas had of been explored a bit further – the kaleidoscope of DNA mangling, the descent into madness of the Shimmer teams. It has some great ideas in it that maybe could have been better fleshed out. Certainly has elements of other sci-fi films. The Thing, Arrival, Under the Skin, maybe even the ‘Alien’ series. But on the whole I thought it was a very original sci-fi with a unique visual style & look. Not perfect by any stretch but certainly a very good effort.

Jmax
Posts: 491
Joined: 03 Apr 2015

18 Mar 2018

bxbrkrz wrote:
14 Mar 2018
Jmax wrote:
14 Mar 2018
I thought the movie was pretty awful. Not a great script, so-so concept. Yet another sci-fi B movie. Tried not to fall asleep pretty much. Not sure what all the hype is about.
Box Office
Budget:$40,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend USA: $11,071,584, 25 February 2018, Wide Release
Gross USA: $26,653,168, 12 March 2018

Doesn't matter to me, movie was still pretty lame. Didn't cost much to make, great. Lots of people went to see it, that's great.

How much did the latest Starwars make? Cost lots more to make of course. Still a terrible movie. Good for 15yr olds.

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bxbrkrz
Posts: 744
Joined: 17 Jan 2015

19 Mar 2018

Jmax wrote:
18 Mar 2018
bxbrkrz wrote:
14 Mar 2018


Box Office
Budget:$40,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend USA: $11,071,584, 25 February 2018, Wide Release
Gross USA: $26,653,168, 12 March 2018

Doesn't matter to me, movie was still pretty lame. Didn't cost much to make, great. Lots of people went to see it, that's great.

How much did the latest Starwars make? Cost lots more to make of course. Still a terrible movie. Good for 15yr olds.
The movie was a failure.

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avasopht
Posts: 1817
Joined: 16 Jan 2015

20 Mar 2018

I liked the concept.

I can't quite put it into words, which to me means the concept had a lot of depth.

The impression I got had something to with a natural force for life discovering its sentience and making its entry into the world it spawned.

Guessing the book will give me a better idea of what it is really about.
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plaamook
Posts: 695
Joined: 22 Jan 2015
Location: probably underwater

22 Mar 2018

bxbrkrz wrote:
19 Mar 2018
Jmax wrote:
18 Mar 2018


Doesn't matter to me, movie was still pretty lame. Didn't cost much to make, great. Lots of people went to see it, that's great.

How much did the latest Starwars make? Cost lots more to make of course. Still a terrible movie. Good for 15yr olds.
The movie was a failure.
Yeah, when you're left thinking the book might be quite good in comparrison, you know you've lost really.

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Zac
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23 Mar 2018

Faastwalker wrote:
18 Mar 2018
I’d been looking forward to watching this in the cinema here in Aus. Next thing I know there’s talk of it appearing on Netflix & suddenly there it is! Watched it the day it appeared. I really enjoyed it. It’s quite out there & very creepy in parts. I wished some of the ideas had of been explored a bit further – the kaleidoscope of DNA mangling, the descent into madness of the Shimmer teams. It has some great ideas in it that maybe could have been better fleshed out. Certainly has elements of other sci-fi films. The Thing, Arrival, Under the Skin, maybe even the ‘Alien’ series. But on the whole I thought it was a very original sci-fi with a unique visual style & look. Not perfect by any stretch but certainly a very good effort.
I found the concept had similarities with the alien series too especially the 2 prequels. In those the corrupting / mutating entity only affects the fauna (meat) and leaves the flora unaffected. Also all the mutations are hyper aggressive and kill and cannabilise until all the beings are gone and all is left are the seeds waiting for more meat...

This was much more expansive on that mutation concept. The way i interpreted it was that whatever arrived on earth set up an expanding field of 'refraction' or mutation that acted on all living things. Those things that were aggressive remained aggressive and the passive stayed passive.

Those crystal trees hinted that it interacted with inert stuff too.

The duplicates rather than the mutations were more interesting to me. I.e. kane and lena. With kane the original was fragged and the duplicate seemed sluggish and without a history. Whereas with lena the original survives and the fragging of the duplicate appears to bring the whole shimmer down. Lena appears to retain her abilities, history and memories with only that final twinkle in her eye to suggest the shimmer entity synergy.

I enjoyed it. Loved the visuals and concept. Felt it spent a bit too much time in the walking around 'walking dead' middle bit.

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JiggeryPokery
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26 Mar 2018

It's a beautiful film, memorable and thought-provoking. Perhaps it tried a little too hard to add unnecessary action, personally I found the "monster" attacks the weakest aspect, and I also disliked the "debrief" framing, as the HINTB guys mention in their review above. Other than those issues, I rather liked it. Would probably rate it above Sunshine but below 28 Days Later, and Ex Machina, (and Dredd, obviously ;) ), in Garland's expanding filmography.

There are a lot of influences in the melting pot of Annihilation, including many of my favourite SF films. The likes of Arrival and Under the Skin, two excellent movies, are probably too recent to have had much, if any, impact on Annihilation. But interestingly all three of those movies do harken back to an era of hard SF that was all but dead by the 1980s, and it's fascinating to see directors like Villeneuve, Glazer and Garland, even Nolan with Interstellar, rediscovering that philosophical/metaphysical SF, both thematically and stylistically. The biggest influence on Annihilation is easily Stalker, with its philosophical journey into an alien forbidden zone. (Both Stalker and Annihilation are based on novels, neither of which I've read; it's probable the latter novel is influenced by the former's novel and movie ;) ). It also references Tarkovsky's other great SF work, Solaris, and 2001: A Space Odyssey also can be seen (the Star Gate sequence is to my mind explicitly referenced in the Lighthouse cave). Even the shots of the cells reminded me a lot of the classic 70s disaster movie, and another one of my favourites, The Andromeda Strain.





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Auryn
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Location: La Mancha

26 Mar 2018

Just watched this on my night shift and was pleasantly surprised since I hadn't heard of it before a few days ago. I can echo the OP's sentiments that is has a Lovecraftian feel about it, specifically it reminded me of the story "the colour out of space" where the vegetation is affected/altered by some otherworldy force. I consider that one of Lovecraft's best stories since it never "shows the monster" and keeps you guessing. The atmosphere in this film has the same sort of unsettling, creeping dread about it without revealing too much. There are some very creepy scenes, specifically the one (spoilersss) where they watch the video of what happened to the previous crew. That part reminded me a lot of Event Horizon, and was similarly effective. There's not a lot of horror but what's there doesn't pull punches.

Interesting what Selig mentions about the books... the point where they don't remember setting up the tents leads you to expect there will be a more disjointed narrative story-wise but that doesn't follow through really. I also thought that not remembering how you got there would be cause for more alarm as it becomes completely impossible to investigate or even keep safe like that. If you think about it closely there's a lot of other plot holes but they didn't seem to detract from my enjoyment.

The love interest/infidelity subplot seemed kind of dead weight to me.

As to the question of what the shimmer actually was... that seems kind of beside the point of the movie I think.
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Iapetus 9
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04 Apr 2018

The FX (not the monsters) were all Mandelbrot fractal based. Fractals are popular in Hollyweird lately...familiar yet strange.
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jayhosking
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11 Apr 2018

selig wrote:
14 Mar 2018

There are three books in the series, so definitely sequel!
Finally saw the movie. It is a very, very loose adaptation of the book, missing some of the central story elements (e.g. the "tower" in the ground), ends completely differently than the novel, and in fact doesn't really share many of the same themes. Aside from the fact that sequels to the novel do exist, I'm not sure those sequels would be of any value to anyone who wanted to make a movie sequel. They're very different beasts.

To be honest, I was pretty disappointed with the movie. Some interesting visuals, a few incredible moments (e.g. the bear), but ultimately had little to say and didn't come together very well. I thought the book was imperfect (and its sequels awful), but still a much more successful tale overall. I often forget that for every Ex Machina that I love, Alex Garland has also made an equal number of movies like Sunshine.

EdGrip
Posts: 1247
Joined: 03 Jun 2016

12 Apr 2018

Watched this last night.
I loved the bear bit - in particular the bit where it puts it's jaws around her shoulder and starts to have an experimental chew. Shudder.
Other than that I just found it all a bit aimless and shallow. Nobody had any actual interesting information to share about what they'd learned so far, or what they'd tried. Apart from the DNA refraction bit, nobody really had any interesting chats about what the nature of the thing might be. They're just bopping around, not saying much, not doing much, not doing any science. Double-deer? Not worth mentioning.
All we know about the protagonist is she has a house with a bedroom, once had an extra-marital shag, and used to be in the military before being an academic. And that's the most we know about anyone.

The business of them having no memories of the day before is brought up, highlighted, and then never mentioned again. It has no effect on them after that and seems to cure itself. At best it serves to be a symptom of a Weird Place, but that's all.

Pet dialogue hate: someone sees something that's obviously basically a person, and they say "What IS that??". I watched World War Z recently, and it happens near the start of that.
This film did it when they're looking at obviously-basically-a-person all smooshed up the side of the swimming pool. Nobody would look at that and say "What IS that?". You'd say "What happened to him?".
If someone else said "What IS that?", you'd turn to them and say
"It's fucking obviously a person. Look, there's his arms and his clothes and there's his head. Are you blind?"
"Yeah but I mean, what happened to him?"
"Then why didn't you say that in the first place?"
Maybe it's an American dialect thing.
There was lots of daft dialogue.

The ending in the lighthouse lost me entirely, but up until then I thought it was basically good fun looking at all the well-executed visual weirdness. It had a definite strong feel to it, I just don't think it's a very good film. Nowhere near as much to think about as ex Machina.
Last edited by EdGrip on 13 Apr 2018, edited 1 time in total.

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selig
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12 Apr 2018

Just started the book for fun - already so much different than the movie, with the afore mentioned "tower" being an obvious difference. Seems almost like two different stories, with some shared foundational points but many more that diverge.
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