Connect with us

Movie News

Review: “Annihilation” is Trippy Transcendence

Published

on

annihilation movie

Alex Garland proved he knows how to conceive smart, gorgeous, and intense science fiction with Ex Machina, but with Annihilation, he demonstrates that he isn’t just a flash-in-the-plan director. His follow-up film contains another heaping dose of profound characters, intelligent dialogue, and enough gorgeous and psychedelic sci-fi imagery to make the eyes refuse to blink. Even though Garland’s film is based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, he approaches the material as though he read a mountain of European sci-fi comics, binge-watched Fantastic Planet, or went on the best acid trip of his life. The results are nothing short of transcendent.

Earth has been hit with a strange meteor that collides with a lighthouse in Florida. From its arrival, an expanding barrier referred to as The Shimmer starts to claim the area around the state. Many teams enter to find out what is causing this phenomenon, but nobody comes back. Enlisted for the latest expedition inside is Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist and former soldier. When her soldier husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) is the only survivor of the last mission and not in the best of conditions, she decides to venture inside to find a reason for the alien season. She’s accompanied by the all-female team of the shrill psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the kick-butt soldier Anya (Gina Rodriguez), the glasses-wearing tech Josie (Tessa Thompson), and the stoic volunteer Cass (Tuva Novotny).

Annihilation MovieSpoon
Naturally, weird stuff starts happening to the group once they enter The Shimmer. They start losing track of their memories, forgetting when they first set up camp for the night. They uncover exotic foliage and plant life, otherworldly in how it grows and contorts the environment. And, of course, some nasty mutations go on the offensive, including alligators and bears that don’t quite seem to act like alligators or bears. One by one, the crew is picked off the further they trek through the oddly infested lands to reach the lighthouse and uncover the mystery.

Garland is so confident with this story that he not only shoots it non-linear but even begins the movie with the ending, stating outright who died on the mission before we even see it. The visuals slowly ease the viewer into its worlds, both the internal conflict of Lena’s strained relationships and the weirdness of the Shimmer land. This is no mere monster island of creepy critters that want to repopulate their species or dominate human life. Without giving too much away, the entity causing the Shimmer has more in common with light refraction than little men from Mars that want to kill us.

But how could I possibly spoil the film’s unbelievable and mostly dialogue-free third act that is pure cinema ambrosia? What the entity turns out to be and the real intentions are revealed in a vivid experience of the most surreal, beautiful, and frightening of a dreamlike sequence. To even describe beat for beat what goes down won’t even come close to spoiling the visual splendor and chilling discovery of trying to figure out this puzzling picture. Any assumptions one might have had about where this story goes will melt away at this point in the film. I spoke with another critic on this ending who responded that he turned to his wife and stated that he hadn’t been this high since 2001: A Space Odyssey. And it’s an apt comparison for a finale that invites the audience to come closer with its weirdly intoxicating examinations of mysterious forces and our place in the world.

Annihilation encompasses so much of what makes science fiction creepy, emotional, and mind-bending. There’s been talk that Paramount had wanted to rework the film, fearing that it would be too intellectual and complicated for wider audiences. Perhaps it is, but it’s a film worth taking a chance on for Garland’s astounding vision that was not tampered with on the final cut. It is a shame that other countries will only be seeing this film on streaming services as opposed to the theater. A movie this grand and beautiful deserves to be seen on the big screen as Garland intended. Going back to the comparison to 2001: A Space Odyssey, I heard tell that Stanley Kubrick’s classic would garner repeat viewings from audiences that would get high around the theater during intermission and come back inside to lay on the floor during the film’s mesmerizing second act. Is Annihilation that good? Let’s just say I wouldn’t venture into the alley behind the theater, but that I’d be finding a seat closer to the screen.

[author title=”About the Author” image=”http://popstermedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mark_mcpherson-300×221-150×150.jpg”]Movie Reviewer Mark McPherson has been all about movies since working at a video store in his youth. His talents range from video editing to animation to web development, but movies have always been his passion to write about.[/author]


Box Office

Another Astounding Weekend at the Box Office for Avengers: Infinity War

Published

on

Box Office Weekend 5/4/18-5/6/18

Not the least bit surprising, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War has dominated the weekend box office with another massive gross. In its second weekend, the grandest superhero ensemble to date brought in $112.4 million. This brings its domestic total up to $450 million, and its worldwide take well over $1 billion. Time will tell if it has the legs, however, to hold its own against Marvel’s other superhero epic this year, Black Panther. Considering Black Panther is still in the top 10, and has almost passed $700 million domestic, it’ll be a close race between the two Marvel movies.

Of course, the success of the Avengers is due in no small part to this being a rather sparse weekend of premieres appearing in fewer theaters. Braving the Marvel storm to come in at #2 was the romantic comedy remake, Overboard, starring Eugenio Derbez and Anna Faris, making $14.7 million domestic. And if that’s the gross of the #2 spot, you can imagine how lower the other films are. Tully, a new comedy Jason Reitman and starring Charlize Theron, came in at #6 with a domestic gross of $3.1 million. Further down at #10 is the new David Tennant starring thriller, Bad Samaritan, making $1.7 million for the weekend.

There were expected dips all around with no huge surprises, but many of the successful films that have hung around are growing a considerable gross. John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place had the lowest drop and is currently sitting at a robust $159 million domestic total. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther has already blazed many records, but it’s only $7 million away from clearing $700 million domestic.

See the full top 10 box office results below.

  1. Avengers: Infinity War ($112,474,000)
  2. Overboard ($14,750,000)
  3. A Quiet Place ($7,600,000)
  4. I Feel Pretty ($4,900,000)
  5. Rampage ($4,620,000)
  6. Tully ($3,186,000)
  7. Black Panther ($3,146,000)
  8. Truth or Dare ($1,885,000)
  9. Super Troopers 2 ($1,815,000)
  10. Bad Samaritan ($1,758,000)

Next weekend, Avengers will be battling against the Melissa McCarthy starring comedy Life of the Party and the Gabrielle Union starring thriller Breaking In. Considering that Life of the Party will have the most significant theater count, McCarthy has the only real shot at being the first film to knock the superhero giant down from the top 10, though it’s doubtful of the Avengers hype will have died down by then.


Continue Reading

Box Office

Life of the Party and Breaking In Dominated by Avengers

Published

on

Box Office Report 5/11/18 – 5/13/18

In its third weekend, Avengers: Infinity War is still going strong with a beefy #1 spot that has yet to be bested. Marvel Studio’s latest superhero epic amassed $61.8 million for the weekend, soaring its total domestic gross up to $547 million. The film has managed to make more than Marvel’s other 2018 hit, Black Panther, in the same amount of time, but whether it’ll reach the same domestic gross remains to be seen. With the oncoming superhero film next week and a Star Wars film following, it’ll have some fierce competition.

The two newest films this week slid comfortably into the slots just below. Life of the Party, the new back-to-school comedy with Melissa McCarthy, predictably hit the #2 spot for being a female-centric comedy released on Mother’s Day weekend. While it didn’t exactly take the cake, the film did make $18.5 million to earn its spot during another Marvel cinematic snowstorm of a weekend. Just below it was the new thriller Breaking In, grossing $16.5 million, which is not too shabby for a film debuting in only 2500 theaters.

There were surprisingly low dips all around in the top 10. The smallest drop was for A Quiet Place, still hanging in there as the surprise horror hit, earning $6.4 million to boost its domestic total to $169.5 million. It’s not too surprising that the most significant drop was for Black Panther, grossing only $1.9 million. It’s a predictable drop considering the movie has been out for thirteen weeks, is already available to buy digitally, and will be out on DVD and Blu-ray by this Tuesday. It’s still a considerable feat for a film that has domestically grossed $696 million so far.

One film worth mentioning that snuck into the top 10 is RGB, the documentary on Ruth Bader Ginsburg, expanding for the weekend into 180 theaters. That’s very impressive for such a small film to conquer the #10 spot on Mother’s Day weekend with a $1.1 million gross.

View the full top 10 list below.

  1. Avengers: Infinity War ($61,817,000)
  2. Life of the Party ($18,500,000)
  3. Breaking In ($16,500,000)
  4. Overboard ($10,100,000)
  5. A Quiet Place ($6,400,000)
  6. I Feel Pretty ($3,710,000)
  7. Rampage ($3,380,000)
  8. Tully ($2,240,000)
  9. Black Panther ($1,932,000)
  10. RGB ($1,165,000)

Next weekend, Infinity War will be going up against a real contender with Deadpool 2, the sequel to the Ryan Reynolds starring superhero comedy that broke records in 2016. Also vying for the box office will be the dog comedy, Show Dogs, and the aged female-oriented comedy, Book Club.


Continue Reading

Marvel

Review: “Deadpool 2” is Reheated Chimichangas That Mostly Hold Up

Published

on

Deadpool is third-wall breaking anti-hero that feels more needed than ever in the current crop of amassing superhero films. His self-aware satire made his 2016 film a hoot with commentary on the messy timelines, the lack of casting, and even mocking Ryan Reynolds himself. And while his sequel film does maintain that fast-paced and joking nature that made the character a breath of fresh air, it’s mostly the same brand we’ve come to expect from the merc with the mouth.

All the familiar scenes are present, even with the same bits of dialogue repeated from the previous film. There’s an opening fight where Wade “Deadpool” Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) narrates how this isn’t a superhero movie for the kids. There’s an extended bit where he trots around the X-Men headquarters where there are little to no mutants present. Hugh Jackman isn’t present in the film, but he always seems to find his way into the script in one form or another. Deadpool even rides up to the finale in a taxi and mentions chimichangas once again. While these segments still garner a laugh, there’s a lingering notion with each smirk that this superhero is running out of originality.

Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool) and Karan Soni (Dopinder) in Twentieth Century Fox’s DEADPOOL 2. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

One of my biggest complaints about the previous film was that there needed to be more actors for Deadpool to play off so that his fourth-wall narration doesn’t overwhelm the screen. The sequel features the opposite, amassing too many characters for Wade to rib that they struggle to work their way into the script. Cable (Josh Brolin) is a soldier of the future that travels back in time to kill a mutant kid and becomes bitterly frustrated with Deadpool being an obstacle. This would’ve been enough for a buddy picture, but the film keeps stuffing in heroes. Deadpool takes a liking to Cable’s target of the overweight teenage mutant Firefist (Julian Dennison), but the kid is so cocky and stand-offish that their chemistry doesn’t have much time to develop. Not when Deadpool must also ally himself with Domino (Zazie Beetz), a hero whose superpower is plot armor. And while Colossus and Nega return from the previous film, their roles are so standard that they naturally become lost in the shuffle.

There’s a tightrope of typical superhero staging and self-aware silliness that Deadpool walks once more, and there’s a larger wobble this time around. There’s a bitter pathos to push Deadpool forward in his plight, but it comes with knowledgable spite for last year’s Logan pulling the same strings, of which Deadpool curses outright. A change of pace for the character is his desire to embrace the X-Men philosophy of no killing, but Wade still plays fast and loose with this logic, counterintuitive of his journey to better carve out a family.

Ryan Reynolds stars as Deadpool in Twentieth Century Fox’s DEADPOOL 2. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

And, wow, does the diversity angle feel so much like bullet-point lip-service, where the black Domino has no flaws, and the lesbian Nega has no character. It’d be nice to have a film where Deadpool coordinates a diverse collective, but everything is so tightly packed with little room to breathe that the inclusivity feels more like a quota, trying to appease everyone without exploring any one angle deeply. Let me know more about Domino’s tragic past without wedging it in at the last minute. Give Nega some better lines considering that her girlfriend, whose only interactions are saying hi to Deadpool, has more dialogue than she does. You wouldn’t even know Firefist has a problem with the perceptions of his weight if he hadn’t brought it up in conversation.

Yes, Deadpool 2 is still funny, especially with one of the most hilarious mid-credit sequences in recent memory. But most of the laughs are familiar ones, reiterating previous jokes and not landing as many original ones past the update of commenting on the current state of superhero cinema. It’s a bit sad that a film this satirical of the genre doesn’t realize it’s coming down with a severe case of sequel-itis, throwing far too many characters at the screen and hardly balancing any of them. There is levity and life in Deadpool, but it needs to start going that extra mile of absurdity in its awareness if it doesn’t want to become one of the lesser superhero franchises it loves to mock so much.

Deadpool (Ryan Reynolds) and Colossus in Twentieth Century Fox’s DEADPOOL 2. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.


Continue Reading

Find Us On Facebook

More

Box Office6 days ago

Another Astounding Weekend at the Box Office for Avengers: Infinity War

Box Office Weekend 5/4/18-5/6/18 Not the least bit surprising, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War has dominated the weekend box office with...

Box Office6 days ago

Life of the Party and Breaking In Dominated by Avengers

Box Office Report 5/11/18 – 5/13/18 In its third weekend, Avengers: Infinity War is still going strong with a beefy...

Marvel6 days ago

Review: “Deadpool 2” is Reheated Chimichangas That Mostly Hold Up

Deadpool is third-wall breaking anti-hero that feels more needed than ever in the current crop of amassing superhero films. His...

Movie News1 week ago

Review: Melissa McCarthy Brings Sweet and Silly to “Life of the Party”

There’s radiant energy to Melissa McCarthy that can light a room, even without the visual hilarity of her big glasses...

Box Office3 weeks ago

Avengers: Infinity War Obliterates Weekend Box Office and Records

Box Office Weekend 4/27/18-4/29/18 It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, the studio’s grandest superhero venture...

Marvel4 weeks ago

Review: “Avengers: Infinity War” Delivers the Biggest, Boldest Marvel Ensemble (Spoiler Free)

After ten years and 18 films, Marvel Studios have now crafted a towering testament of superhero cinema in their serialized...

Box Office4 weeks ago

A Quiet Place Stands Loud and Tall Against Troopers and Schumer

The small horror film A Quiet Place is anything but silent this month as it climbed back to #1 for...

Movie News1 month ago

Review: “Super Troopers 2” is a Fuller, Thicker Mustachioed Comedy

The comedy troupe Broken Lizard returns to the road for another batch of skits about highway patrolmen going Animal House...

Box Office1 month ago

Rampage Narrowly Stomps The Competition For Weekend Debut

Box Office Report 4/15/18 Keeping with the recent trend of movies based on video games, Rampage charged into cinemas this...

Box Office1 month ago

A Quiet Place Makes a Loud Impact at the Box Office

Box office report 4/9/18. There was a lot of buzzing about the new horror film, A Quiet Place, since it...

Trending