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#Film Review: Netflix’s Annihilation (2018)

Director: Alex Garland

Rating: 4/5

Remember watching a film on Netflix and waiting to finally find out what was the reason for the way thing were in the world portrayed in the film, only to have a ‘what the hell’ moment at the end? Well, this film is exactly like that. It ends in a way that leaves you with more questions that you can remember, and thoughts racing around your head. However, that does not mean the film is bad. On the contrary, it is quite good.

This film presents a different way of portraying the apocalypse much loved in current film production. Unlikely for other films full of anarchy and attempts of humans to annihilate each other due to fighting for ever more scarce resources, in this film protagonists fight no more no less but the nature. Thus, our fighters are trying to figure out what is happening behind a colourful wall swallowing the world they once knew and majority of those who went behind the wall never came back. Only Lena’s (Natalie Portman) husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) returned but behaving very differently and very sick, with several organs failing. Lena therefore volunteers to go behind the wall with a group of other three scientists to discover what is happening. To their disbelief they realise that humans are intertwining with nature and that the nature is pretty much swallowing them, thus annihilating humanity. However, this is not all. Some humans we saw are also re-created from their dying self and thus reproduced in a new form. These new humans recognise their lives, their houses and loved ones but have no real memories of how they returned home nor they know where they’ve been or what happened to them.

In a way, it appears as if this annihilation is a new beginning and that humans are getting a chance to start anew, purified and cleansed from previous lives. Thus, it seems as if director was telling us that we need to start over and return to the nature and what is natural for us. On the other hand, it seems as if director was also playing with the religion and the concept of free well eloquently elaborated in the work of rabbi Harold Kushner (see here) according to which Lord gave us the free will to act as we like and deserve the afterlife. In this film, one of the ideas might be that humans lost that free will due to evilness of the current world and are starting anew as empty shells, which is exactly what Kushner was talking about when addressing criticism of atheists, i.e. he was saying that if Lord did not gave us free will we would be empty vessels and there would be no point for us to be alive, whereas with free will we can choose to act as we like and make being good our choice deserving of award in the after life.

The end of the film is somewhat strange but appealing as well because it made me think. In other words, I had to ask so many questions which ultimately lead me to think about issues I described in the previous paragraph. Is Lena the original or the copy? What is going to happen to the world? What kind of people will get their copy and what kind of people will get annihilated and merged with the nature? Will mutations continue? These questions are my questions following watching the film, and the interpretation above is mine. However, this does not mean that someone else would not interpret the film differently and ask different questions. That is the beauty of this film.

On a final note, all main characters in this film are women and the film very clearly showed that this type of genre, typically portrayed by men, does not loose its value when main protagonists are women. On the contrary, I massively enjoyed portrayal of four distinctive women volunteering to go and help the world not knowing what is waiting for them behind the wall. Worth watching!

Thank you for reading.

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