Adventure Annihilation

‘Annihilation’ Blu-ray Review: Alex Garland’s ‘Ex Machina’ Follow-Up is Must-See Sci-Fi

May 29, 2018Ben MK

Lena (Natalie Portman) has been mourning her husband, Kane (Oscar Isaac), who has been missing for the past year. What Lena doesn't know, however, is that Kane was part of an expedition sent in to investigate an incident at Blackwater National Park, the site of an asteroid impact three years earlier, which resulted in an anomaly that has been slowly engulfing the surrounding land ever since.

Little does Lena realize that her husband's disappearance is only the beginning of a larger mystery. And when Kane suddenly reappears, only to have his health take a sudden and rapid downturn, Lena is brought to Area X, where she meets psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and the all-female team (Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez and Tuva Novotny) who are set to enter the anomaly — dubbed "the Shimmer." Hoping to help her husband, Lena volunteers to join them, and that is where Annihilation really takes on a life of its own.

To reveal anything more about this adaptation of author Jeff Vandermeer's 2014 novel of the same name would be to spoil the creepy surprises and reality-altering revelations that writer/director Alex Garland has planned for viewers along the way. From its body horror set-pieces to its fantastical imagery, there are many ways that Annihilation carves a niche for itself. And even though its thoroughly bizarre and mesmerizing climax relies too much on questionable CGI for its own good, you won't be able to look away for a second.

As Annihilation was released direct-to-Netflix in some territories, some moviegoers may not have had the opportunity to experience the film on the big screen. For those who have, however, this 1080p transfer provides an excellent approximation of the theatrical viewing experience, psychedelic colors, soft focus cinematography and all. As for the audio, the included Dolby Atmos track does a superb job immersing viewers in the aural journey of these characters, from the sounds of birds and insects in the forest, to automatic weapons fire, to the plucking of guitar strings on the early portions of the score and the discordant electronic tones of the film's third act.

Paramount's two-disc combo pack includes a DVD copy of the film, an iTunes/UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Part 1 - Southern Reach (26:15) - A pair of featurettes ("Refractions" and "For Those that Follow") that look at how this subjective adaptation came about, the visual tone of the film, and the influence of Alan Moore of the movie, as well as the performances of the cast.
  • Part 2 - Area X (27:07) - A second pair of featurettes ("Shimmer" and "Vanished into Havoc") that give a behind-the-scenes peek at filming at Windsor Great Park, plus a look at the stunts, visual effects and special effects behind the creation of two of the movie's set-piece sequences.
  • Part 3 - To the Lighthouse (19:43) - A third pair of featurettes ("Unfathomable Mind" and "The Last Phase") that delve into the visual effects used to create the Shimmer and the film's climax, as well as a look at the thematic elements of the movie and what writer/director Alex Garland brings to the production.

Annihilation is available from Paramount Home Entertainment as of May 29th, 2018. The Blu-ray features English Dolby Atmos, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 and English Dolby Digital 5.1 Descriptive Audio tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH, French and Spanish subtitles. The total runtime is 1 hr. 55 min.

* Reviewer's note: Portions of this Blu-ray review were adapted from my original review of the theatrical release, published on February 22nd, 2018.

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