A biologist's husband disappears. She puts her name forward for an expedition into an environmental disaster zone, but does not find what she's expecting. The expedition team is made up of the biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a linguist.
Directed by: Alex Garland
. Starring: Natalie Portman
, Benedict Wong
, Sonoya Mizuno
, David Gyasi
, Oscar Isaac
, John Schwab
, Jennifer Jason Leigh
, Gina Rodriguez
, Tuva Novotny
, Tessa Thompson
, Sammy Hayman
, Josh Danford
, Kristen McGarrity
. Music by: Geoff Barrow
, Ben Salisbury
As part of a secret military operation a group of strong-willed female scientists decide to investigate an area of extra-terrestrial cancer formed at a lighthouse that has taken the lives of their male counterparts. The team may appear directionless and lost the whole time, as one would expect when there is no plan, but one thing that is firmly established in this movie is the efficiency of these women in communicating, and also thinking. A typical conversation consists of no more than 6 words, and any decision is made with the least amount of thinking almost entirely leading to something horrific.
The lead character Lena as portrayed by Natalie Portman is a clueless woman with commitment issues who decides to go into the cancer, aka The Shimmer to understand what's inside of it; much like how geologists examine erupting volcanos by going inside of them! The flashbacks throughout the movie tell of a loving wife who is also sleeping with another man. Kane the husband as acted by Oscar Isaac is one of the men who's been inside of The Shimmer, and has come out with the grand achievement of contracting a lethal disease. At least that's what Lena believes. Following an awkward reunion and the gut wrenching discovery of her husband's disease Lena gathers motivation to go up to Kane's boss lady and talk her into sending her into the cancer area. Dr. Ventress, the boss lady who is played by Jennifer Jason Leigh mumbles a few sentences and ultimately agrees.
The team that is put together consists of five women. You are made to believe each person is expert in something, however this proves to be irrelevant since nothing they do cannot be done by a group of high-school teenagers. Further to that, as with any secret military operation involving deadly threats their journey is assisted by prehistoric camping equipment such as tents, a compass, a flashlight, a small spoon for collecting blood samples, no gloves and no protective suits. You probably wouldn't see this coming but pretty much everyone dies by the end of the movie.
THE SHIMMER (mystery sci-fi music playing)
The ominous journey starts off with a few uninspiring discoveries and builds up to the first serious face-off with danger. When a mutated alligator wreaks havoc on their camp culminating in a very rare happy ending the team's next logical step is to get on tiny boats and head right into the swamps, aka gator habitat. Somehow this trek doesn't turn sour only to set the stage up for the next threat, a bear attack that results in a death. The now team of four not even phased by the tragedy ventures right into the jungle, aka bear habitat, just to ensure their teammate had been indeed killed. You hope for the situation to get better, partly because of the high ratings, but we are only at the tip of the iceberg because virtually every challenge in this movie is met with the most insane proposal.
Half-way in you suddenly realize that that one character who is present in every movie who doubts everyone and turns against the team only to be killed is absent here. Just as you begin to appreciate this refreshing departure from cliches, on the suspicion of being lied to Thorensen the medic girl viciously knocks her surviving mates out and ties them to chairs, right in the middle of the night, in the most terrifying building where even predators would say their prayers before entering. Right when this lunatic is about to cut open the guts of her teammates, surprise surprise, the killer bear shows up and for target practice obliterates the medic. The beast then walks back to the main lobby where the three remaining ladies are still tied up and gently strolls in front of them as if about to give a speech on the effects of consumerism on global warming. Unfortunately right before making its second kill the wild instructor gets shot at by a bad student and dies.
Having been rid of the foul mouthed drama queen the team is finally presented with the much needed peace to work together, make smarter choices, and move forward hopefully without sacrificing any more lives. Of course nothing happens correctly in this movie and for absolutely no reason the physicist character Radek just starts wandering into the jungle, and Lena despite running like a coyote cannot catch up to the turtle-speed Radek who by the way was 3 steps away from her before taking off!! How this scene made it past editing is beyond me.
You might ask, gee isn't there a leader in charge of this broken team? Well, as a display of strong leadership Dr. Ventress has abandoned her team and is nowhere to be found.
The movie reaches its climax when Lena enters the infested lighthouse and discovers a tape from her husband who demonstrates the mysterious powers of, of all things a phosphorous grenade against the corporeal forms inside The Shimmer. Confident that she's learned all there is to the ET Disney Land Lena goes for one last leap, into a hole in the wall leading to a bizarre underground hideout. There she meets Dr. Ventress who is in the middle of some ritual and about to be transformed into the alien that everyone has been waiting to meet. Our newly born human-like creature mirrors Lena's movements like a doppelgänger. When she moves it moves, and when she fights it fights, but when a phosphorous grenade with its pin pulled is placed in its hand the alien suddenly inherits Lena's appearance. What?! At this moment Lena makes a run toward the door, but the alien just stands there with the grenade in its hand waiting to be eviscerated! Just like a guy who's been raving about his stamina for 2 hours only to finish in under 5 minutes because he doesn't know how to do it right, the movie builds up to this climactic point and presents us with the ultimate superpower and then conveniently pretends it didn't happen. In absence of a convincing explanation one can only conclude that the alien must have forgotten about its mirroring duties due to a sudden submission to Alzheimer's disease!
Review by asadim-28294 from the Internet Movie Database.