Annihilation ★★½

For the first third or so this is ominous and self-serious in the tradition characteristic of all cerebral sci-fi movies, which permits a precariously narrow margin of error. So when a line of dialogue is delivered amusingly, or the appearance of a CGI creature isn’t convincingly material enough, the laughter that follows is concentrated because it’s been stifled for the time leading up to it—because up until this moment you don’t know if it’s going to fall on the side of greatness or camp.

For me, this moment was when one of the four women who enter a potentially lethal biologically compartmentalized area, a sort of radioactive fallout zone demarcated by what looks like the kaleidoscopic membrane of a humongous jellyfish, looks at a compass and sees that, naturally, its magnetized pointer has gone haywire, and looks concerned as though she hasn’t already seen this in about eleven different movies.

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