From the writer and director of "Ex Machina" comes a mind-bending science-fiction story about a team of scientists who venture out into The Shimmer, a zone where no man who has entered has come back. That is, until Lena's husband, Kane, returns. While Kane recovers, Lena teams up with others to discover what The Shimmer is and where it leads, only to discover the terrifying and perplexing truth.

The film stars Natalie Portman as Lena, Oscar Isaac as Kane, Jennifer Jason-Leigh as Dr. Ventress, Tessa Thompson as Josie Radek, Gina Rodriguez as Anya, and Tuva Novotny as Cass. The nice thing about this film is that it is almost completely female-led, giving a refreshing addition to science-fiction films. For the most part, science fiction is usually led by males, so having an entire team of strong female scientists lead an adventure into an unknown dimension is pretty awesome.

"Annihilation" is one of those films that you will need to view multiple times to truly understand in its entirety. The film is complex, bizarre and surreal, but when it is discovered what the film is really saying, it is mind-blowing. Much like Christopher Nolan's "Inception" and "Interstellar," the plot is confusing, and you'll find your mind scrambling to try to figure out what this all means, especially toward the end of the film.

The direction here is beautiful, and writer/director Alex Garland brings out his best film yet after "Ex Machina.


" The talented director has already developed his directing style of taking thought-provoking concepts and turning them into science-fiction stories. Given these two astonishing films, his next will most likely be just as intriguing.

For film buffs, "Annihilation" is very much like Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker" plot, and Tarkovsky's "Solaris" in terms of visuals. It's clear what sorts of films Garland likes, and the results of his influences are nothing short of amazing.

The visuals in "Annihilation" are both stunningly beautiful and strangely unique, creating the eerie atmosphere the film needed. The movie relies highly on its visuals, but that's not to say it doesn't have an amazing story as well.

It is incredibly difficult to describe "Annihilation" to moviegoers who have not yet seen it, due to its ambiguity and complex nature. All that is necessary to know before seeing it is that it is bizarre and confusing but stands as one of the best science-fiction films in recent years.

It is important to note, however, that there are some incredibly creepy and unsettling scenes, one involving a terrifying, bearlike creature. The scenes that are meant to scare or disturb truly perform their purposes well.

"Annihilation" is not the sort of film you watch for random, light-hearted entertainment. Instead, it's like having an out-of-body experience and digs deep into the human soul, making you questions things you may not have questioned before.

"Annihilation" is more than a movie -- it's an experience.

Best Scene: The mind-bending final 15 minutes

Weirdest scene: The scene with that unworldly bear-creature

Character you hope gets eaten by that bear: Anya

Grade: A-