Annihilation 4K/Blu Ray Review (Paramount)
Annihilation is a 2018 science fiction film directed by Alex Garland (Ex Machina & Devs). It’s based off the novel from Jeff VanderMeer. It’s the first novel from the Southern Reach Trilogy. It was released theatrically in America & China. Creative differences turned the original planned wide release to a limited theater run. It was released everywhere else digitally on Netflix. At a U.S. government facility, Cellular biology professor & former soldier Lena (played by: Natalie Portman from Star Wars: Episode 1/2/3, Léon: The Professional, Heat, & Thor 1/2) undergoes a quarantined debriefing by Lomax (played by: Benedict Wong from Avengers: Infinity War, Doctor Strange, Sunshine, & Moon) about an expedition that ended badly. She has a flashback of her missing husband & special forces soldier Kane (played by: Oscar Isaac from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, X-Men: Apocalypse, & Ex Machina) returns home after being gone for a long time. Everyone pretty much thought he was dead. He can’t remember anything about his last mission & he becomes ill. The government takes both to a private location.
sychologist Dr. Ventress (played by: Jennifer Jason Leigh from Twin Peaks, The Hateful Eight, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, & The Hitcher) recruits Lena to help with an upcoming mission. She meets the rest of the team that includes physicist Josie Radeck (played by: Tessa Thompson from Creed 1/2, Thor: Ragnarok, & Westworld), anthropologist Cass Sheppard (played by: Tuva Novotny from Dag, Nobel, & Possession), & paramedic Anya Thorensen (played by: Gina Rodriguez from Deepwater Horizon, Jane the Virgin, & Filly Brown). She doesn’t tell any of them besides Dr. Ventress that she’s married to Kane. As the research gets deeper the team is in more danger from their unknown surroundings. Someone goes missing & paranoia runs wild. They discover some disturbing evidence & find out about some dark secrets. The group chooses sides & no one is trusted now. Their problems get worse when they are attacked. This leads to them fighting together for their survival. Things take a strange turn & they have to deal with a different situation to make it out alive.
First off, let me say that when it comes to something based off a book I usually watch the film before I even considering reading the source material. Obviously, I am more of a cinema guy than a book reader. I want to enjoy the visual adaptation & have a clear mind going into it. Annihilation had a different approach to it compared to other projects in the same genre. The main characters were all female & the few males featured in it were mainly in flashbacks or brief scenes. That’s something you almost never see these days. Each woman from the team was very intelligent & could handle themselves when challenged. I enjoyed the mysterious vibe it had in the first half. You didn’t really know what was happening with all the teams & animals sent into this dangerous area. Did they all get slaughtered by something inside? or Did they all lose their minds & kill each other while trying to investigate this unknown place? As the current team got deeper they discovered some dark secrets about what they were getting into & some were more personal than others.
The set pieces & locations were all great additions to the story. The visual & special effects were top notch. It had some really brutal moments that surprised me. I wasn’t expecting that in this. Everyone was paranoid & they were starting to have trust issues which made the environment more interesting between the team. As you can tell, I really enjoyed the film at this point but I must say the other half of Annihilation went into a completely different direction. It had me feeling like I missed something when I didn’t. It was all over the place & started to get a little confusing plus it just drifted into something that I felt like I was watching a new film in this last act. Maybe it’s something you have to watch a few times to appreciate more but I left this a little disappointed on how it flipped the switch. I didn’t like how it ended either. After saying all of that there was more good than bad when it came to Annihilation. I still thought it was a solid production despite it’s flaws & I’d recommend it to Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh & science fiction fans. I just think it something you might have to watch a few times to appreciate it more. That’s not necessary a bad thing at all because it makes you want to revisit it to experience some of the hidden messages in this. It makes you think & react after viewing it.
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation. As far as picture quality goes, this 4K release is one of the best I’ve ever seen. This 2160p (2.39:1) 4K transfer is unbelievable! The production value for Annihilation is top notch, everything is at it’s highest quality so the visuals really stand out on this film. The audio options include English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, & Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 for the 4K disc. It has English, English SDH, French, & Spanish subtitles. You know how I said this was reference quality when it came to picture? It’s the exact same for the sound. It roared in my home system & it felt like I was there with them. I would recommend this to anyone who trying to test out their picture & sound for their set ups. There’s not much that can top this.
Let’s discuss the special features that are located on the blu ray disc. None of them are featured on the 4K. “Part 1 – Southern Research”, It’s divided by two different parts. “Refractions” is a little over 11 minutes. It talks about adapting the book into a film. They talk about extending dialogue that wasn’t in the book. It goes into the story. Director talks about adding his own original stuff into the already established material. They bring up the Alan Moore influence on this. They chat about the visual style & how they put it together. “For Those That Follow” is a little longer, it’s 15 minutes. It goes into the characters of Annihilation. It talks about each character having a different energy to them. You get to meet the cast for the film. They go into what they add to the overall story for this. It tells you how some of them were cast. Oscar Isaac was filming Star Wars at the exact same time as this. “Part 2 – Area X”, It’s divided by two different parts also. “Shimmer” is a little over 12 minutes. It goes over the importance of a shooting schedule. It brings up locations & filming in the United Kingdom.
They were originally thinking about doing it in Louisiana. It digs deeper into building the sets & how they were designed. They talk about the stunts in the film. “Vanished Into Havoc” runs a little longer at 15 minutes. It gives you an inside look for the digital & practical effects used in the feature. They talk about barely using any green screen for them. They show how they put together some of the attacks. “Part 3 – To the Lighthouse”, It’s divided by two different parts like the other two. “Unfathomable Mind” is almost 12 minutes & goes over everything you would want to know plus more about The Shimmer. It talks about the changes the film goes though. “The Last Phase” is a little over 8 minutes. It’s a look at Director Alex Garland & his crew for this production. He’s worked with some of them for over 20 years now. He says sometimes he gets credited for stuff he has little to do with & it’s embarrassing because his crew works hard to achieve those goals. It goes over Annihilation’s entertainment factor & how the film makes you think after experiencing it. It also includes a digital copy. The blu ray available everywhere! This 4K version is exclusive to Best Buy.