In "Annihilation," biologist and former soldier Lena (Portman) is shocked when her missing husband (Isaac) comes home near death from a top-secret mission into The Shimmer, a mysterious quarantine zone no one has ever returned from. Now, Lena and her elite team must enter a beautiful, deadly world of mutated landscapes and creatures, to discover how to stop the growing phenomenon that threatens all life on Earth. (Gary Reber)
Special feature include three featurette sections. Part 1––"Southern Reach: Reflections" (HD 11:20) and "For Those That Follow" (HD 15;04); Part 2––"Area X: Shimmer" (HD 12;12) and "Vanished Into Havoc" (HD 15:03) and Part 3––"To The Lighthouse: Unfathomable Mind" (HD 11:46) and "The Last Place" (HD 08:06) and an UltraViolet digital copy.
The 2.39:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 Ultra HD HDR10/Dolby Vision picture, reviewed on a Sony Bravia Z9D 4K Ultra HD HDR display, was photographed digitally in anamorphic Panavision® using the Red Weapon Dragon, Sony CineAlta F65 and Sony CineAlta PMW-F55 camera systems and sourced from a 4K master Digital Intermediate format. The saturated Wide Color Gamut is displayed with spectacular hues that are rich and warm and all manner of shading and brilliance. Toward the end, the color spectrum is spectacular and captivating. HDR contrast is stylized with intense white brightness levels, deep blacks, and revealing shadow delineation. Light is bounced within frames, and as the action develops within The Shimmer, the color palette is highlighted with rich forest and meadow greens, beiges, yellows and a full spectrum of brilliant color waves in motion exhibiting reds purples, and greens floating on-screen. Through it all, fleshtones retain naturalness within both interior and exteriors. Resolution is excellent but refined. Yet facial features and skin pores are realistically defined, as well as hair, beards, clothing, weaponry and gear, and vegetation. Spatial dimensionality is excellent throughout. WOW! segments include 00:29:36 to 00:32:34, 00:47:100 to 0:47:18, 01:24:32 to 01:26:18, 01:32:52 to 01:34:52, and 01:41:08 to 01:43:48. This is a stylish picture with haunting visuals that deliver an engaging science fiction thriller experience. (Gary Reber)
The Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack is terrific and an effective compliment to the mysterious story. Atmospherics and Foley sound effects are major elements that enhance the realism of the scenes. The music is ear-level with excellent fidelity. A synthesizer also plays dramatically with extension to the height channels. Deep .1 LFE bass is often energized, such as when the helicopters fly by, creatures growl, gunfire, and the electrifying sound effects within The Shimmer. Intensely swirling effects deliver intensity, complimented by the substantial low-end support. Action scenes are complimented with chaotic intensity. The sense of space is accompanied by an eerie sense of dread. Surround extension is often aggressive and powerful. Dialogue is effectively reproduced with at times good spatial integration, though, ADR is prominent.
The Immersive Sound element develops effectively as the story unfolds, especially during the scenes with The Shimmer. Elements include brief speeding cars, helicopter movements, the distant thunder, and swishing sounds produced by the approaching Shimmer, electronic moods, rain-like sound effects, birds chirping, swamp noises, wind, rustling water, distorted and very loud choral sounds, haunting sound effects building to moving electronic sounds, building to electronic orchestration, echo and rumbling sounds within the lighthouse, very loud electronic moving sounds deep within The Shimmer and under the credits. The normal music, comprised of a modern folk style with guitar, is never heard in the height channels. Furthermore, numerous scenes could have benefited from immersiveness. The first roughly 27 minutes of the movie had virtually no Immersive Sound elements, except for the brief speeding cars and helicopter movements about 11 minutes into the movie, with obvious movement through the rears and across the top end. Still, during The Shimmer scenes, the height channels often were very active and effective.
This is a well-crafted soundtrack with a holosonic® presence as well as a loud and aggressive Immersive Sound element.