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Annihilation Movie Review: It Is Painful To Sit Through!

Film: Annihilation

Starring Natalie Portman

Directed by Alex Garland

Rating: **

If you are fan of Natalie Portman and have forgiven her poor imitation  of  Jackie Kennedy  in  Jackie, you will find it doubly hard to sit through this excruciating sci-fiction drama  where the very beautiful Portman is cast as a grieving wife  of a soldier who has disappeared into a time-zone  called the ‘Shimmer’. He  returns . But seeming strange .

 Now  Portman must do a Sati Savitri and  bring her  husband back from the dead, although technically he is  not dead.He’s only zonked out after what he saw when he entered the ‘Shimmer’. The  mythologized milieu is merged into a futuristic  traction whereby the events in a doomed Utopia collate with memories  of  a life that could have been happy if mankind had not plundered  the  very sources that nourished their  ambitions.

This is a painfully constructed  pyramid of futurist flourishes determined  more by fallacy than feelings.  The  images are robotic repellent  and remote with Lena(Portman)’s penetration of the ‘Shimmer’ with her four  female colleagues  designed as a bid to capture  H.G Wells on a  day when he has decided science fiction must end its era of thralldom.

Some  of  the images created to  portray an apocalyptic aura are truly magnificent. I  was particularly drawn to  a sequence where the ladies sit deathly still as  a giant creature comes sniffing around them emanating  muffled cries  of  a missing  colleague. The effect is chilling. But then, so what?

Is this a film about an otherworldly attack? Or does it aim to internalize the  growing fears of  our civilization of being swamped  by creatures whose grip over the earth strengthens as ours weakens? The trouble with Annihilation is  its absence of a dramatic epicenter.While the images of  beauty and destruction are interestingly calibrated, Portman’s grief for her psychologically  battered husband is never palpable enough to warrant her journey into the unknown.

‘What the hell are we doing here?’ is a question that the female lead and her bunch of women adventurers ask themselves more than once.

So do we. For all its spiralling ambitions to  give visual shape  to the writer’s  images of a world  plunging into auto-destruction,Annihilation seems like  a  half-hearted voyage of the damned  into a  country that nobody owns ,not for the want of wanting. But because it’s just not worth owning.

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