By Brian Cho
Published: March 28th, 2018
Where to begin?
This is one of those films that leaves you with more questions than you asked for. This isn’t the sort of movie that you should watch with friends; or maybe it might be, because it can be too chilling to experience alone. I saw this movie with a friend, and we were both left feeling uncomfortable and confused when it ended. Before I jump ahead, let’s first discuss what this movie does correctly.
Warning, certain spoilers ahead!
Originally based on a book trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer known as “The Southern Reach,” the movie focuses on an unnatural and unsettling phenomenon that is increasingly growing. It is seen as a threat to the very fabric of nature—altering its DNA creating and morphing it into something completely stunning and simultaneously frightening. The world’s top scientist predicts that this mysterious threat is on track to engulf the entire planet. Obscure in its origins and desperate to learn more about this creepy force, the military, with the cooperation of scientists, venture out into “The Shimmer” to study it and inevitably destroy it. But on every one of these expeditions, almost no one returns.
The movie does a fantastic job at creating a unique atmosphere to its setting for the characters to explore and investigate.
Lena (Natalie Portman) is the main focus of the film. She is in search of clues and information on her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac), who suddenly returned home after being gone for a year, or as Lena believed, being killed in action. Kane returned back from a mission into “The Shimmer” with an unidentifiable lethal illness, and as a biologist with a Ph.D, Lena is determined to help Kane and hopefully find a cure to help treat his bizarre condition. This determination motivates her to volunteer on the next upcoming expedition into “The Shimmer.” She joins a team of four women, who all come from troubled pasts, which is why they volunteered for this suicide mission.
The three other main characters in this movie didn’t really leave an impression on me. They are forgettable and uninteresting. They did not play nor contribute to any important roles in the movie’s overall story. Their motives and back stories did not help build up the movie’s story. Their deaths did not bring out any emotions or reaction in me. I wish they could have been more important to the movie’s story instead of being dispensable. If these bait characters were more fleshed out, the movie could have been more thrilling.
Already having spoiled certain crucial portions of the movie, I’ll do my best to make this final section spoiler-free. The movie does a great job of building up suspense and awe. It makes the viewer more curious of this striking disaster to the balance and nature of earth. One of the best aspects of the movie is the team exploring and investigating “The Shimmer.” What they discover on their journey is very entertaining and interesting. It forces the audience to really analyze how life was born and evolved. It makes you wonder if something like “The Shimmer” could actually step out of the realm of science fiction and be a real presence. You should definitely watch this film if you are a fan of ambiguous endings. If you loved the acclaimed TV series “Lost,” this film would definitely be your cup of tea.