Parents' Guide to

Annihilation

By Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Amazing but challenging, violent sci-fi isn't for everyone.

Movie R 2018 115 minutes
Annihilation Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 15+

Based on 14 parent reviews

age 17+

Incoherent and graphic

Incoherent plot, gratuitous violence and gore, nothing interesting and definitely not suitable for younger teens
age 16+

A stunner of a film...

A fantastic film that leaves you with more questions than answers. This film does what I think science fiction offers to the world, a unique perspective by a made up world that offers insight into our human habits and psyche. Everyone has a very specific role to play and the film does a great job in allowing their arcs to develop. Slow and scary, revealing complex human relationships and even more complex biological relationships. A stunner of a film.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (14 ):
Kids say (35 ):

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.

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