‘Annihilation’ Is a ‘Lavish, Magnificently Unnerving Visual Feast’ and 8 Other Transcendent Reviews

Director’s follow-up to “Ex Machina” has a 90 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes

So far, “Annihilation,” Alex Garland’s follow-up to 2014’s “Ex Machina,” has been described as “gorgeous” yet “disturbing” and a “lavish, magnificently unnerving visual feast” that will prove to be “one of the most exhilarating films of the year.”

Overall, critics have given the film a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“‘Annihilation’ is a terrific piece of big-studio sci-fi,” wrote Forbes’ Scott Mendelson. “It’s superbly acted by its refreshingly female-ensemble cast, it’s well-written and its staged as both a deeply introspective journey and an unapologetic horror show.”

“The overall effect is extraordinary: a lavish, magnificently unnerving visual feast threaded through with well-earned jump scares and real metaphysical force,” added EW’s Leah Greenblatt.

“If you’re there for the empowering presentation of an all-female, racially mixed cast of intrepid scientific professionals — played by Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, Tuva Novotny (‘Borg McEnroe’) and Gina Rodriguez — or the title’s promise of perilous chills, you won’t be disappointed,” TheWrap’s film critic Robert Abele wrote in his review. 

See 9 of the best reviews below.

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

“The movie is as gorgeous as it is disturbing, and that’s a powerful combination. It may be about the beginning of the end of the world or the beginning of something else entirely. I’d be lying if I said I understand every aspect of the film, but I was engrossed trying to.”

Brian Lowry, CNN

“Broken down to the basics, Garland has delivered another movie that’s worth seeing. Like the Olympics, though, even when you put together a beautiful routine, points get deducted when you slip on the landing.”

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“‘Annihilation,’ a mind-bending foray into the unknown from the British writer-director Alex Garland, leaves you in an entrancingly beautiful daze. That may be an odd thing to say about a movie with mutant crocodiles, killer bears and an unflagging sense of menace, but for all its surface perils the picture also has a disquietingly serene core. It broods, stalks and sometimes pounces, but mostly — not unlike the five intrepid women who venture into its heart of darkness — it’s content to observe, almost as though it were studying itself through the lens of the camera. It gives itself, and the audience, an awful lot to see.”

Gregory Wakeman, Metro

“‘Annihilation’ wants to challenge its audience. It teases answers rather than hammering them home, possesses large doses of scientific jargon that you have to battle to keep up with and features one of the most audacious, testing and visually arresting conclusions in modern movie history.  It also makes huge demands of its viewers, so much so that it is bound to be divisive. But if you trust the film, allow it to provoke and bask in the loose threads and questions that it asks then ‘Annihilation’ will prove to be one of the most exhilarating films of the year.”

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“‘Annihilation’ is pulp transcended. But there are hurdles it must overcome. Test screening audiences reportedly found it too complicated. Readers of the books, to which the film is often intriguingly unfaithful, object to the white-wash casting of Portman and Leigh in roles written as Asian and Native American. Otherwise, Garland need make no apologies for ‘Annihilation.’ It’s a bracing brainteaser with the courage of its own ambiguity. You work out the answers in your own head, in your own time, in your own dreams, where the best sc-fi puzzles leave things. Get ready to be rocked.”

Scott Mendelson, Forbes

“‘Annihilation’ is a terrific piece of big-studio sci-fi. It’s superbly acted by its refreshingly female-ensemble cast, it’s well-written and its staged as both a deeply introspective journey and an unapologetic horror show. If Paramount/Viacom Inc. can’t make money off a movie like ‘Annihilation,’ it’s more evidence that the problem isn’t them but rather the sheer challenge of getting audiences to take a chance in a movie theater.”

Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly: 

“The overall effect is extraordinary: a lavish, magnificently unnerving visual feast threaded through with well-earned jump scares and real metaphysical force. It’s the kind of film that leaves you dazzled, shellshocked — and not entirely sure whether your own moviegoing DNA hasn’t been altered a little in the process.”

Nick Schrager, Daily Beast

“In just about every respect, it’s the finest cinematic sci-fi in years–or, at least, since Garland’s prior ‘Ex Machina’… Big-budget sci-fi doesn’t come much more incisive, exhilarating and mind-blowing than this.”

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

“‘Annihilation’ becomes ever more trippy and challenging — and thus ever more interesting… Kudos to Garland and the cast, but bravo to Scott Rudin as well. Apparently you knew a masterpiece when you saw it, and you made sure we were able to see it as well.”