Fantastic movie. 

If you enjoyed this movie, you should certainly read Blindsight by Peter Watts.


  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    never oppose to a BM positive rec. getting well received critic wise too. when i first saw the trailer and saw Natalie Portman firing a rifle i wishfully tought 'please be The Professional 2 with a sci fi twist!'
  • Man, it really is a bummer it won't be in cinemas anywhere else. Guess I'll have to wait for it on Netflix or something. I remember seeing the trailer in cinema so I just assumed it would come out. Really looking forward to this, I have read the books and I think with the movie it's just the one, not a trilogy, right? I think that might be an improvement.

    PS: @A_Ron_Hubbard @Jim The actor is called Oscar Isaac, not Isaacs (you misspelled it in the desription & the tags too). Just thought I'd let you know.
  • Saw the 10PM show for this last night, started this thread after listening to the bald move coverage, and shortly before passing out, so a few more thoughts (gonna be some spoilers)

    - yeah, movie reminded me a lot of Arrival, except it was even more delightfully ambiguous and heady
    - I mention _Blindsight_ in the OP because it is a first contact novel as well, with some similarities to the entity (can we call it an "entitiy"?) in Annihilation. Although Blindsight takes place in space, "high above the ecliptic and deep into the Oort, the realm of long-period comets that only grace the sun every million years or so". It's also one of my most favorite hard-edge Scifi, and changed my view on the Philosophy of Mind and it's relation to the cosmos forever.
    - The bear scene was perhaps the most tense and amazing thing I've seen in cinema in, well, I don't know how long.
    - Did you notice how Lena picked up the "infinity symbol" tattoo that Anya had? Lena had the tattoo in the interview scenes, but not in the story scenes until after Anya's death (I think).
    - There was about 20 people in the theatre. At the conclusion of the bear scene I wanted to exclaim "holy shit," and I think I should have.
    - One guy was there with his wife, and as we were exiting the theatre he kept going on about how shitty the movie was, how nothing happened, how it wasn't what he expected, and how he should have seen Black Panther. This is why we can't have good things. (I'm seeing Black Panther tonight heh)
    - The jump scare with Josie getting pulled back into the hut near the starta gave me a shock, and I expected that to continue through the movie, although it didn't really. It was just an effective horror film after that.

    Now if I can just formulate my thoughts on the overall motivations of Lena in the film. I think I'm like 90% there, although it will take some more reading / meditation on it. I do like the idea of the shimmer as a cell, and Lena / Kane as cell division, with the destruction of the shimmer as autophagia for the new life born.


    I noticed the tattoo also. I love that they never address it. 
    I also noticed when Lena is testing her own blood you can see the vague shape of the tattoo on her arm.

    Great visual storytelling.
  • Is that what the bruising was all about?  Was the tattoo slowly appearing on her arm through the course of the movie?
  • Jim said:
    Is that what the bruising was all about?  Was the tattoo slowly appearing on her arm through the course of the movie?
    I think so. My recollection of the on-screen chronology is this:

    The tattoo is seen on Lena during her "present day" interview after the main plot.

    The tattoo is seen on Anya (sometime around the discovery of the video/worm-guy corpse).

    The scene of Lena knifing herself for a blood sample reveals a vague figure-eight shape on her inner forearm.

    This was when I started picking up on the potential ramifications of the "refracting" of light, time, matter, etc.

    I need to watch this again but my initial take on the ending is that the two characters who embrace are "new" versions of the original couple. My hopeful (sappy) take is that it's an indication of how the characters can reinvest in each other without the baggage of their past offenses. I think that somewhat washes with the idea of aging and corruption being an unfortunate flaw in what should otherwise be an ongoing, renewable existence.

    Or that could all be my ass talking.

  • This is a delightfully weird and inexplicable movie and I really want more sci-fi like it. 
  • WonderedObjectWonderedObject SAN Francisco, CA
    That last scene with the "copy" mimicking her scared the shit out of me. The noises it made... idk something about it. Did a number on me than most horror movies in recent memory. 
  • This movie is pretty fucking cool. Another thing about the tattoo: I believe the infinity symbol is formed from a snake eating its tail, which is a representation of autophagia (eating one's self). Nice touch.
  • kuman07kuman07 Kansas City
    Saw it this afternoon and that was about as interesting and well written movie as you will find. Solid acting, the imagery/scenery was amazing, loved it. A little out there and some small flaws but I thought it was a great film.
    I noticed the tattoo thing too, kept in the back my mind but never explained. I thought I saw Oscar Isaac had it one point too. I could be mistaken on that.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited February 2018
    This reminded me more of Tarkovsky's Solaris than Arrival. IIRC, both Arrival and Solaris were about grief, whereas Annihilation decidedly was not. I think I like it better than Arrival too. Maybe. There's certainly more to contemplate thematically, for me... 

    I may write more in a bit. I have some theories. 

    And this was a firm reminder of my goal to see more Tarkovsky. Maybe a late 2018 resolution...
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    my mind is so tangled! can't wait to listen to the BM take to hopefully help untangle my mind. all i gotta say at this point is..  The Revenant bear scene really got put on notice!

  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited February 2018
    The theme of self-destruction was very powerful for me, especially since I haven't been writing much lately. Especially since less than 1 month ago I had one of those magical writing days you only have once in every like 2 years. (They are the best thing in the world, let me tell you. Sex, food, drugs, nothing is better than the magical writing day that happens once in every like 2 years.) 

    But still, writing is a net positive for me in almost every respect. The first 10 minutes are hell, but then it's just great, and it's almost never not great, and so fucking why don't I do it? Why am I ruining this good thing?

    But about the movie...

    The movie blatantly states it's about self-destruction and then annihilation. 

    Self-destruction is the point of showing Lena's affair. She had a happy marriage, but she still blew it up. Somehow her husband knew about it; I think because he saw it from the Shimmer. And that's why he didn't want to leave the Shimmer. Jim and Aron are both incredibly smart, so I'm surprised that they didn't pick up on the affair's importance to the theme — regardless of how Lena's husband saw the affair or even if he saw. There was a line of dialogue directly referencing it, right? But this is an anomaly, them both missing something like that. So maybe I'm overestimating this as obvious. 

    Self-destruction is in our cells, but the movie posits that it's in our minds too, in our psychology. We are capable of psychological cancer.

    And the Shimmer was picking up on all of that, because the psychologist character kept feeding it people who had nothing to lose. Therefore, the Shimmer was mimicking that hopelessness, that death of self. 

    One could argue, "Oh, so literally everyone who walked into the Shimmer was someone who, in that moment, happened to want to self-destruct? That's convenient." And I would say, "No, I think it's more that we all have the capacity for self-destruction, latent and subconscious. The convenient thing is that Lena was the first person to show the Shimmer that we also have the capacity to be a phoenix, reborn from our own ashes." 

    So Lena is the Shimmer reborn, in that final image of the film. She's definitely herself reborn too — I don't buy into the mirror Lena ending theories, which subvert the whole movie. I think the film was too finely written to be in service of a twist. I think we're supposed to know Lena has got the Shimmer in her. Whatever that means. Thematically, though, she faced her own tendency towards self-destruction (vis-a-vis the faceless clone). She stopped fighting it; she saw herself in it; and then she could overcome it. And now she is something new. New, but also herself. Changed.

    Her husband, however, did die in the Shimmer. And a clone husband at the end doesn't fit thematically if you think about it in terms of him. In terms of Lena, he represents the mentality of her affair: a shadow of himself, a warm body, an aspect no longer worth regarding. And he represents all the work she is going to have to do to rebuild this marriage, to rebuild the true vision/version of her husband. 
    ElisaAlkaid13Chinaskistevenduran1240hisdudeness915SchlupphypergenesbLucasFlashGordongguenotand 1 other.
  • great stuff Jamie.

    Yeah, a bunch of the comments that complained the movie was "complicated for the sake of being complicated" also complained of the irrelevance of the double affair scenes.

    I thought it was pretty straightforwardly linked to the theme of apoptosis as you pointed out.
  • A_Ron_HubbardA_Ron_Hubbard Cincinnati, OH
    Jaimie I largely agree with your analysis.  Question:  Was Lena handing the alien the grenade her teaching it how to be self-destructive?  Or was she allowing it to express the self-destructive impulse it had already picked up form absorbing so much humanity?
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited February 2018
    Jaimie I largely agree with your analysis.  Question:  Was Lena handing the alien the grenade her teaching it how to be self-destructive?  Or was she allowing it to express the self-destructive impulse it had already picked up form absorbing so much humanity?

    I would say your second one; she was teaching the alien how to be intentional and self-aware. After all, death and suicide had occurred in the Shimmer before, so presumably it understood self-destruction. But hers was intentional. Although the physicist cut herself "to feel alive," she was chasing a feeling; she hadn't really grappled with whatever was making her feel dead. So her self-destruction wasn't with the intent to heal, like Lena's.

    If movies are consistent thematically, I allow them some license with plot devices. I think Lena being able to run away from the grenade was a plot hole, because (1) the alien would copy her exactly, down to sudden movements and (2) I'm not sure how the alien would get the point without her doing it to herself. But we needed Lena alive, I guess? And maybe the alien observed what had happened in her mind. We know it can do that because of the blatant exposition dump about how the bear absorbed that one woman's mental state. Maybe this is why that needed to be so blatant. IDK.

  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    I may be saying obvious things here. My dad just had his third affair (that we know of) and my mom is finally divorcing him (assuming she can follow through). So I'm in the weeds with this self-destructive stuff. I see it in both of my parents. And obviously, being a lesbian from a fundamentalist Christian family, I've had my own battles with self-hatred.

    I just really fucking adore the fact that Lena had to face herself in order to be freed from herself. Obvious? Can't tell. I just know that it's absolutely, absolutely how things work when it comes to healing and changing. You can't run or struggle; you'll be crushed. You can't ignore it and hope it goes away. You have to see yourself in it, and accept it, and forgive it. Then you can be free. 

    So that scene in the lighthouse is likely to stay with me forever.
  • ChinaskiChinaski Santa Cruz, CA
    i just listened to the podcast and i pretty much felt the same way. thoroughly enjoyed it even though a lot felt unanswered or somewhat confusing.  i think i was more confused on what to think when i walked out of the theater. it really left me thinking in a good kind of way.

    a real shame that the studio is handling it the way it is with limited US release and promotion, no WW distribution.

    and oh.. @JaimieT - excellent breakdown!
  • edited February 2018
    Yeah the affair was just another thing that showed that Lena is the type of person that every so often blows up her status quo. She left the military for academia, she left her marriage for an affair with a married man. She is a self-destructive, but not suicidal person.

    As far as Kane, he knew on some level, if not explicitly about the affair. Lena says at one point that she understands why he went on such a dangerous mission and that she's sorry. Her affair created the distance that pushed him to accept such a seemingly suicidal mission. That's why she has to go in and find the truth, and hopefully a way to save him.

    The grenade was one final act of self destruction for Lena. She literally destroyed herself so that she could begin the new phase of her life as this shimmered refracted harbinger. In a way she is happier than when she went in because she was able to bring Kane with her this time, unlike when she left the military and he stayed in. Now they have both annihilated what they used to be and are creating something new together. That line is kind of the key to understanding why Lena does what she does (her whole life) and is the backbone of her rejection that she was destroying her life. She's not destroying her old life, she's building a new different one.
  • Finally seeing this tonight!
  •   This thing reminded me a lot of John Carpenter’s the thing. It’s slowly gonna engulf the entire planet, right? I mean, it got out of containment.
  • hisdudeness915hisdudeness915 Atlanta, Ga
    edited March 2018
    Saw it last night. Loved it! Thanks for the recommendations everyone. And thanks @JaimieT for helping me untangle my brain. Side note: that bear scene was one of the most unnerving things I’ve ever seen. 
  • yeah... man that bear scene

    I'm getting a bit of an itch to go for a second viewing. Does anybody know when it's getting a digital / dvd release in the U.S.? 

    I know it's being released for various countries Netflix, but I'm guessing the U.S. isn't part of that initial list.

    This podcast really touches upon a lot themes. They mention the shimmer being a allegory for cancer and how that is the way the body self destructs and mutates within the body.

    I was wondering if the mental state of the people going in the shimmer had anything to do with the process of their DNA refracting. I was thinking of how after the bear had gotten Cass, Anya and Josie didn't want to continue forward, they had nothing left to keep them going forward other than to escape, yet Lena and Dr. Ventress still wanted to continue.

    We see Anya slowly lose it, from her fingerprints moving, a loss of her identity perhaps, which accelerates her mental instability? She is killed before we can see it progress further but apparently she didn't see a bear when it first attacked.

    Josie on the other hand accepts the change happening after the second bear attack. She no longer has her jacket and we see plants sprouting from her extremely fast, eventually we assume she becomes one of the human figured plants.

    Since both Lena and Dr. Ventress still had the mission as a priority we don't see them change as fast as the others. They still had something urging them forward. I just find it weird how Lena's DNA didn't refract as fast as the others, especially after being in the hole and having to escape the alien.
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    edited March 2018

    Some good commentary from Mike at the beginning about the state of "the movies" (seeing artistic, diverse movies at movie theaters). 

    Also some good commentary about how this movie should have been a bigger deal re: women in STEM fields. The media hype train is a joke.

    Other good analysis:

  • I loved Jason Isaacs in Awake, was glad to see that role mentioned on Half in the Bag, and wish I saw him on more stuff. He was my favorite part of STD

    Think I'll try to catch this movie. Is there enough sight and sound to warrant seeing it in theaters, or can I wait until it comes on premium cable?
  • So has anybody taken my advice and read Blindsight 0_o
  • JaimieTJaimieT Atlanta, GA
    jhpark said:
    I loved Jason Isaacs in Awake, was glad to see that role mentioned on Half in the Bag, and wish I saw him on more stuff. He was my favorite part of STD

    Think I'll try to catch this movie. Is there enough sight and sound to warrant seeing it in theaters, or can I wait until it comes on premium cable?

    It might be out of the theaters now, but run, do not walk. It's a big screen, big sound movie.
  • Doctor_NickDoctor_Nick Terminus
    edited March 2018
    I was waiting for HP Lovecraft’s writing credit. Alex Garland did a truly excellent version of The Colour Out of Space. 

  • I was waiting for HP Lovecraft’s writing credit. Alex Garland did a truly excellent version of The Colour Out of Space. 

    I immediately thought of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, and they seem to be pretty open about ripping it off (although I suppose it was Jeff VanderMeer who ripped it off).
    Doctor_NickSchluppNatter Cast
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