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Annihilation (2018): A Review

When novelist and screenplay writer Alex Garland finally took the reigns behind the camera with 2015’s Ex Machina, many wondered if we were seeing the birth of a sci-fi auteur for a new era.

I’m pleased to say that after sitting down for a screening of this weekend’s new release Annihilation, Garland has taken the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, produced an instant classic, and has created a movie which underlines him as the voice of modern sci-fi cinema.

The film stars Natalie Portman (Jackie) as Lena, a a professor of cellular biology at Johns Hopkins (clearly not filmed there). Her husband, played by Oscar Issac, is presumed KIA after never returning home from a top secret military operation. Over a year passes, and one day, he returns, clearly not himself.

Where was he? What happened? The search for those answers, although never clearly illuminated for Lena, leads her to join a group exploring the location of the military operation – a space called “Area X”.

“Area X” was a lighthouse in a state park, which once a meteor collided with it, became enraptured in what is called “The Shimmer”, a bioluminescent glow – similar to the rainbow shine found on rainy pavement. Many have gone in, none have gone out. And Lena – alongside four other women, Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Josie (Tessa Thompson), Cass (Tuva Novotny), and the leader of the “Area X” project, Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh) – will now go in to discover its mysteries, its truths, and its horrors, for herself.

The story which follows mashes elements of Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and most of all, John Carpenter’s The Thing into a filmgoing experience which feels incredibly creepy, enthralling, and somehow wholly new. The stunning visuals provided by cinematographer Rob Hardy and the visual effects team are equal parts horrific and beautiful – bringing to mind the most horrifying creations of the television version of Hannibal and yet also some of the most breathtaking floral presentations you’ve ever seen. Each frame is a delight for the eyes, even in moments where you wish to pull yourself away. It’s wrapped in a score by Ben Salisbury and Geoff Barrow, which includes beautiful acoustic guitar and horrifying ambient noises. The light and the dark live on in every second, and its only amplified by this score.

For 115 minutes, this movie took me on a true journey, one of life, discovery, shock and gut-wrenching terror – and it leaves you wish just enough to dissect, discuss and take apart for years to come. Annihilation will stand the test of time.

This is where I make a hard ask of you, dear reader.

If you’re reading this post, chances are it’s because you love movies like The Thing, Alien and 2001. You like to be challenged. You like movies that don’t give you the easy out, the clear solution. You need to see this movie in theaters so more like it get made. That, or you’ll risk not being that nerd at the table 5 years from now being able to see “You saw it on Netflix? I saw it on the big screen, like it was supposed to be seen.”

Highest possible recommendation.

Annihilation is in theaters now. Grab tickets right now via Fandango, or pre-order it today via iTunes.

Apple Rumored To Be Working On ‘Airpod-Like’ Over-Ear Headphones

MacRumors:

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has issued a new research note outlining his expectations for Apple’s “acoustic accessories” pipeline, claiming the company is working on both updated AirPods and “own-brand, high-end over-ear headphones” with an “all-new design.” The new over-ear headphones are said to debut in the fourth quarter of this year at the earliest.

As someone who loves his Beats Solo 3 Wireless Headphones and his AirPods, and has been looking into the Beats Studio 3 Wireless (there are some political conversations at work I’d very much like to have noise-cancelling for), I would love to see what Apple wants to bring into this space.

Even if Beats/Apple are kinda the same now.

‘Judge dismisses coal mogul’s defamation lawsuit against John Oliver’

The Hill:

A West Virginia judge dismissed a coal mogul’s defamation lawsuit this week against cable television host John Oliver and HBO.

In a decision dated Wednesday, West Virginia Judge Jeffrey Cramer accepted HBO’s argument that Bob Murray, CEO of coal mining giant Murray Energy Corp., failed to show that Oliver had defamed him according to the law.

With the return of Last Week Tonight last weekend, I actually was wondering what the status of this lawsuit was.

Frankly, I was concerned that this was going to spiral into something much bigger, where the rich assholes of the world get to dictate what humor is made at their expense.

Thankfully for us, judges like Jeffrey Cramer understand comedy.

Want More Save Slots for METAL GEAR SURVIVE? That’ll be $10.

Polygon:

Konami’s Metal Gear Survive quickly hits players with a reason to pay extra money on top of the game’s $39.99 asking price by restricting the number of character save slots. Players have access to just one slot, while three additional character slots are locked behind an in-game currency purchase.

Go fuck yourself, Konami.

It’s bad enough you’re fucking the corpse of a game you killed off, now you’re asking us to pay you for standard features.

And it’s not like these saves are backed up on the cloud or anything, they’re on your goddamned machine.

Was this a game I was going to buy before this? Christ no, what they did to Kojima was horrible. But now? Especially not going to buy it.

Microtransactions were a mistake. They’re nothing but trash.

Disney Channel Greenlights 2 Series: AMPHIBIA and THE OWL HOUSE

ComingSoon:

Disney Channel has ordered two brand new original animated series for their cable network. Eric Coleman, senior vice president of Original Programming and general manager for Disney Television Animation revealed both shows are set to explore imaginative new worlds complete with fantastical elements and memorable characters.

Amphibia is a comedy series that chronicles the adventures of 13-year-old, self-centered Anne Boonchuy who is magically transported to the fictitious world of Amphibia, a rural marshland full of frog-people. With the help of an excitable young frog named Sprig, Anne will transform into a hero and discover the first true friendship of her life. The series is from Annie Award-winning director Matt Braly (Gravity Falls) who will also executive produce.

The Owl House is a horror-comedy series that follows Luz, a self-assured teenage human girl who accidentally stumbles upon a portal to the Demon Realm where she befriends a rebellious witch, Eda, and an adorably tiny warrior, King. Despite not having magical abilities, Luz pursues her dream of becoming a witch by serving as Eda’s apprentice at the Owl House and ultimately finds a new family in an unlikely setting. The series is from Dana Terrace, one of Variety’s “10 Animators to Watch” whose credits include Disney’s DuckTales and Gravity Falls. Terrace will also serve as executive producer.

Can we talk about how unbelievably cool these two shows sound?

I’m suddenly glad I have cable again.

Also: I need to watch Gravity Falls.