It’s not that I do not like strong female leads or great plot twists. I do. I was stunned by the movie “Arrival”. The writing, the acting, the premise, the twist at the end were all nearly perfect. It left me thinking about the movie in a good way, asking questions about issues like what is time, what would you do if you knew how it ended.
However, Annihilation is not Arrival. In fact, it’s not close. The premise is good. Aliens are always good. Infection is always good. Altering by terraforming earth is a cool plot challenge. But that is not what Annihilation is about.
It’s a chick flick- and a bad one. Political Correctness is a cancer that infects and destroys everything. It’s now to the point where it is eating itself. But, because of it, we are stuck in a world where we can’t say the truth. If we could we would say the movie, if it had males leads, would be panned and rated a 4 on a scale of 10. But because it had women in it, even though it offended women greatly, we have to say “Yeah! Good job!”
I spent most of the movie with my arms open in a “WTF” pose. My son, his friend and I spent the movie laughing and whispering about the HORRIBLE plot failures and bad writing.
Not only was it a bad chick flick, it was like a promotion for NEVER LETTING GIRLS IN CHARGE OF ANYTHING! They will screw it up! I was actually insulted, and I’m pretty old fashioned!
For example in one scene, the girls can’t fire their weapons, which they left behind when one of the team members was attacked. (You are in alien environment where nobody survived. The weapon is GLUED to you!)
In another, the “tough girl” picks up a FN M240 machine gun, abandoned by a prior SF team, and decides it’s too heavy to carry. This AFTER a giant bear monster carried off one of their team. Dude, there is no such thing as “too heavy” after that happens!
Now, I’m sure Hollywood won’t say that, or even see it. In one comment on an article online, one person talked about the strength of the female characters. No, they were not strong. They were confused, scared, weak victims and very quickly went insane. Now to be fair, I’m sure the point was all who went in, even strong SF soldiers, went insane. But not right away. The team was picked, I think, because they were all emotionally damaged. Why? I..don’t..know! It’s a girl thing!
So I went online and shared my thoughts. Don’t go any farther unless you want to know plot spoilers. The bottom line is the effects are stunning, the premise has promise. The rest was a “wait until Netflix” moment.
“I just got back from the movie. It was visually beautiful. The premise of an alien presence was interesting.
The rest…well…just SUCKED!
Why? Let me go through just the highlights.
1. The Shimmer’s effects were controllable. But somehow gap in the writing-the leap of faith- indicated the entire combined effort of the world ended up with a group of untrained, emotionally damaged women as a unit. Which they armed with machine guns and knifes (spoiler, didn’t work out well).
They sent SF, experts, scientists into the Shimmer for three years. Their next bright idea was to send in a young girl, an EMT, and dying psychologist? How long did they study this very slow moving phenomenon? Again- THREE YEARS! And they couldn’t figure out it was changing DNA and causing mutations??? You could SEE the mutations when you approached the edge. The sparse bushy environment of a northern sea coastline was now a JUNGLE! Nobody said, “Uh, dudes, it’s like dangerous to send in people for any length of time. Maybe we should share that info with the teams?
You set up animals on the edge and test them by putting them in, and then taking them out and running DNA. Nope, in the movie the team was in six days and Natalie saw it in her microscope, and one girl turned into a bush! A bush!
Ah come on! Who’s running this operation- the VA?
2. They send these women, with basic M16s with NO upgrades? No scopes, no flip up night vision (which got one eaten), no flashlights? That’s standard today. So were they trying to get them killed? In the six days that they stood by to go into the Shimmer, you’d think someone in the armory would go “Hey Fred, you think you could slap a flashlight and a low power scope on that rifle and maybe spend some time with them on a range doing things like, I don’t know, shooting and changing mags? And the answer is “Heck no, we have these old Vietnam era rifles to unload- so let’s give them to the gals!” ??
Not to mention they sent other people in with bigger guns and they didn’t make it back out so….How about a 12 ga with slugs? Or a 308? Portman’s character was supposed to have 7 years military training, SHE didn’t see a need to check her gear?
3. Communications. They didn’t spend three years figuring out why their radios didn’t work? All they had to do is stand five feet inside- still in view of a team of experts- and do experiments until you figure out what that girl figured out on day five. Then you do this crazy thing called run a hard line through the woods with a phone on either end. Remember everything works inside, just the wireless signal doesn’t get out. A subtle concession to today’s world of Internet communications.
Set up a base, then expand farther in, set up a base, then farther in. Like in WW2. Also, remember, THREE YEARS back, when it was small, this could be set up. It was expanding slowly, so year one is 300 yards across, not twenty miles in diameter like in year three.
4. You wake up in a tent and THREE DAYS are forgotten and you push on? No, you back out and report this and find a better way in. It’s been here three years, it’s moving slowly, YOU move slowly and…don’t..get…killed!
5. Which brings me to the worst plot gap. The way in to the lighthouse…
Remember, the lighthouse is the goal. Right? Where is the lighthouse? On the coast. What’s next to the coast? Water! That’s right. And entire body of water.
So the choice is walk through a jungle where no one has survived (not get into a 1972 Ford Pickup with no computer – so no interference with the engine – equipped with jumbo tires and stick shift and DRIVE to the lighthouse) or maybe, and call me crazy, take a BOAT to the shore and land next to the lighthouse. It’s only about fifteen miles maybe. Remember, you can see the sky. So use a sexton if you have to. Or the sun. If motors do not work then row in or use a sailboat. There was no mention of weird man eating sea life.
Sail in, figure out the alien is highly combustible, set it on fire. Done and done! (Seriously, travel across the galaxy and you can get burned up like the brush in a California wildfire? Is there no asbestos or fire extinguishers on planet X?) Three years and nobody thought to bomb it with napalm? Or start a fire with some loose paper and a Bic? I mean this place was really combustible!
Like I said, there was no real plot. Except to reveal that Natalie mourns in a weird way, by bedding her friend.
And that now maybe, just maybe, she and her husband are infected or replaced by aliens.
I saw that movie. Far better and starring Donald Sutherland!
I came away with the feeling this was a chick flick (and not a good one, there was no background or character development with the secondaries in the movie), wrapped in a weird pointless sci/fi plot surrounded by some very beautiful special effects.
Wait until Netflix or someone else picks it up.
Or rent Arrival to see how it is done right.