• 31 Mar - 06 Apr, 2018
  • Mohammad Kamran Jawaid
  • Reviews

A group of women, some of them gung-ho, some just there for convenience, travel through a phenomenon called ‘The Shimmer’ – a crash site for a meteor that created a multi-coloured veil over a forest area, and transmutes people and animals into insane creatures.

The women – Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson and Tuva Novotny – each a specialist, go on the journey to find out what happened, because of all the men folk that were sent, only one man (Jason Isaac, playing Portman’s husband) came back.

This adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s award winning novel by director Alex Garland is riddled with filmmaking inefficiencies. The monotone ambiance and characterisation, the dull, draggy pace and the unoriginal story reveals. The one aspect – right before the climax, featuring (as if you hadn’t guessed) Portman – being the movie’s sole saving grace, one wonders why Garland took a route many made-for-television science fiction films take.

Garland (who directed Ex Machina with a solemn flair) designs the film for an ultra-realistic, high-definition, lens flare-ridden look. The visual feel also comes with an obvious low-budget, minimalist set design right – as if someone yanked the budget from the Executive Producers. Honestly though, with the screenplay at hand, I wouldn’t have given Garland and the producers much more than $40 million they had.

Adding to the drawbacks is the lack of connection with the actors. Both Portman and Isaac are fine actors, who play straightforward, flat characters. Portman’s ever-present emotional weight serves as a constant reminder of her husband’s loss, but the grief appears to be for camera’s sake. The novel trilogy (which I haven’t read) may be better.