Annihilation (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Alex Garland really made a sweeping debut Ex Machina. A smaller scale science fiction film that was welcoming both to the hardcore and general moviegoer. That film even snuck up on us and won an Academy Award. For his follow up, Annihilation, Garland dug even deeper in the the hard science fiction elements. The film was noted for getting a wide release domestically, but Paramount let this become a Netflix movie for all the other countries in the world. Controversial, yes, but this may have been a good move as this isn’t the most accessible or general friendly audience film many of the people upset about the Netflix deal might think. Lucky enough, it IS coming to 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray after just initially announcing standard Blu-ray only. The trick was that the 4K was coming as a Best Buy exclusive. This exclusive also is set for a May 29th release.


Biologist and former soldier Lena is shocked when her missing husband 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.

Alex Garland’s Annihilation is my favorite film of 2018 to this point. I’m deeply fascinated and taken with it, seeing as there is so much learn, discover and ponder from it. Oddly enough, and shame one me, but I don’t feel I’m ready to write about this film yet. At least not what I would deem satisfactory for myself. For me, I’m still gathering thoughts, still forming idea, still looking for some answers and wanting to keep experiencing this one more to finally and confidently grasp why it is I love it and what exactly I have grabbed and feel the movie is. And the fact that I’m in this state is just even more testament that I’m taken with the movie.

The main idea for the film is humanity’s tendency to border on self destruction in our lives. Our desire to tear things down, to evolve, to change our outlook or current situations. Choices that are destructive but lead to both prosperity or our end. Garland’s film (I can’t speak for these novels its based on, but I’ve gathered Garland has done sort of his own thing here) explores the fusion with an alien species that has similar ideals but is also learning from our own. In an ironic twist, this species mocks our own tumors and destruction in life with beautiful botanical plant life and such that grows in symbolizing death.

Influences are quite abundant here, but this really feels like an answer or companion form Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1979 film Stalker. The idea and happenings in the world feel very much the same. Personally, I think Annihilation’s approach is more accessible and its leaner runtime and focus make it more successful. You’ll also find a feeling of Tarkovsky’s masterpiece Solaris in here as well. Much of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien, among other films, make their influence felt around as well. And while these homages do play here, Annihilation is never without its own feel and identity. This never feels like stealing, copying or winking at all, its largely its own story that sort of incidentally crosses in to those thoughts.

Five months into the year, Annihilation remains my favorite film. Its one that still has things to tell me, wants me to see it in a different way and overall may have a few more secrets to unlock. Alex Garland has once again contributed a very fulfilling and enriching entry into science fiction. Yes, its a shame this one didn’t catch fire theatrically, but let’s be honest, its not a film for everyone. As much as we’d love the masses to give it a chance, counting on them to appreciate it like many film and science fiction enthusiasts have is a fool’s errand. That we had as film like this in 2018 and it was released wide theatrically is something to be grateful for. But, even more grateful that it wound up being a fantastic film worthy of that.


Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1

Layers: BD-66

Clarity/Detail: Annihilation was shot at 6K resolution and finished on a 4K digital intermediate. The image has a nice back and forth between murkier, more natural and crisp visuals while also really bursting with the beautiful glow of the digital visual effects in the film along with some other details in environments. Its almost exactly the look I imagine most were hoping this to have. It runs with the best of them on the format and at times can really mesmerize you. It really kicks things up in the final act, too.

Depth:  The film has some solid spacing, nothing wildly three dimensional, but its spreads well enough and the movements are natural and smooth with no distortion interfering with your viewing.

Black Levels: Blacks are natural and well saturated here. Even in super dark sequences, details and figures can still be outlined quite well. Details on darker areas like hair and surfaces showcase their specifics and textures. No crushing witnessed on this view.

Color Reproduction: While a lot of the more natural elements of this film aren’t bursting with color, many of the effects and digital visuals are roaring and gorgeous looking, taking advantage of the HDR. Flowers and other colorful plant life really stand out as well. The end credits look friggin outstanding.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish. Dried blood, cuts, wrinkles, lip texture, bruising and more comes through quite clear in close ups and most further away shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean


Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (English 7.1 Dolby TrueHD compatible), English Audio Description, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics: Annihilation’s Dolby Atmos track is a real treat for the listener. It perfectly encapsulates the strange and supernatural feeling of the film, perfectly complimenting the visuals that go along with it. Effects are nice and powerful when need be, providing a good kick with guns and that bear-thing’s scream. The film’s score is very loud and jolting as its supposed to be. However, between the effects, vocals and score, none of them ever overlap the other as its a good, loose balanced mix.

Height: Ceiling speakers bring forth natural sounds like gunshots and helicopters, but also supernatural and surreal elements like voices and effects sounds and unique pieces of the score.

Low Frequency Extension: The score truly pushes the subwoofer hardest, but also we get stomping, gunfire, blasts, crashing through walls and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: This Atmos track has no problems filling up the room and creating unique sounds from any given speaker. The surreal nature of this movie is perfectly captured with the movements, weird noises and ambiance crafted in each channel.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Annihilation 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray is a Best Buy exclusive. It comes with the standard Blu-ray edition and a digital copy. All bonus materials are featured on the standard Blu-ray.

Part 1: Southern Reach

  • Refractions (HD, 11:20) – In this piece, we are introduced to Garland’s first encounter with the book and he and the author’s desires for adapting in terms of style and look.
  • For Those That Follow (HD, 15:04) – We look at the characters in the story and the story of how the actors that breathed life in them came to be cast and what they brought to their side of the story.

Part 2: Area X

  • Shimmer (HD, 12:12) – The location scouting and relishing featurette that gives background on where the film was shot and how it was properly utilized.
  • Vanished Into Havoc (HD, 15:03) – Here we take a look at some of the special effects and work that help bring some of the creatures and action bits to life. They make it a point to tell us just how practical the film is.

Part 3: To The Lighthouse

  • Unfathomable Mind (HD, 11:46) – One of the sequences in the film is focused on and we go through its process through to visual effects.
  • The Last Phase (HD, 8:06) – Everybody gives their last 2 cents about the experience and the film.


Annihilation is not only one of the year’s best films, its one of the best entries into the science fiction canon this side of the millennium. I’m super stoked that the film was released on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray after the initial announcement didn’t mention anything because its a Best Buy exclusive. Its a shame because there are many that aren’t aware of that. And this thing looks and sounds great. The extras are pretty solid as well. I give this a high recommendation based on the film and its presentation alone.

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