A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Implies that to volunteer for a mission like this one, you need to have very little left to live for (i.e., to have suffered a huge personal loss or tragedy), which is rather sad.
Positive Role Models
Five brave women risk their lives to go on a kind of explore/rescue mission. They're all damaged in some way, but still try to do their job and help one another survive. That the central characters are all female is notable, as it's typical to see men in a movie like this. While controversy has arisen over possible "whitewashing" in key roles, not all of the women are white, and the nonwhite characters are compelling, strong, and interesting.
Violence & Scariness
Giant monster attacks. Characters killed. Some blood and gore: A man slices into another man's stomach in graphic detail, where his intestines are moving like snakes. Mangled corpses. Shocking, creepy, scary images. Guns and shooting. Rifle butt to face. Explosions. Injection in neck. Mention of a character's past self-harm.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A couple has sex (extramarital for them both): She's on top, shown from behind from the shoulders up, grinding and breathing; he's shown from the shoulders up, lying on the bed. Married couple shown in bed, wearing underwear and kissing.
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Several uses of "f--k," plus "s--t," "damn," "bitch," "screw," and "God" (as an exclamation).
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult characters are seen drinking beer.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Annihilation is a brainy but amazing sci-fi movie from the director of Ex Machina and based on Jeff VanderMeer's novel. It has several creepy, scary, and/or unsettling scenes, as well as scenes of blood and gore, monster attacks, guns and shooting, and death. A woman is shown having an affair; sex is implied via moaning and movement (there's no graphic nudity, and the two participants aren't shown on-screen at the same time). There's also a scene of a married couple in bed in their underwear, comfortable and kissing. Language is strong, with several uses of "f--k" and "s--t." It's rare -- but nice! -- to see this type of movie primarily featuring women (Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson star). Annihilation is closer in spirit to films like Stalker and 2001: A Space Odyssey than Star Wars or superhero movies, so it might not be for everyone. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Alex Garland's second directorial outing after the excellent Ex Machina, this brainy, metaphysical sci-fi is even more ambitious and more amazing. But its challenging conclusion could be a hard sell. Based on Jeff VanderMeer's novel, Annihilation slightly resembles Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker (1979), a highly artistic masterpiece from a much braver time, when audiences were less likely to balk at ambiguity. Like Ridley Scott did in Blade Runner 2049, Garland combines unusual, imaginative visuals, ideas, and sounds with more traditional audience-aimed thrills -- but he does so far more seamlessly than Scott. The film is less focused on climactic battles, instead heading toward a far more poetic, surreal ending.
The shape of Annihilation is nothing short of brilliant, with a linear, minimalist starting point that consists of simple, straightforward images (like a lighthouse). It then opens up like a strange, exotic flower, following different offshoots to new, unexpected points in its unpredictable world. The movie is admirable for featuring five women (and no men) as the characters who embark on the journey; Portman's performance especially makes it an emotional one. But given that the movie is sometimes creepy and perhaps even unsettling, it sets itself up as being more of a cult favorite than a mainstream hit -- it's closer to 2001: A Space Odyssey than to Star Wars. Still, if you prefer your sci-fi deep, then you're in for a treat.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.