Annihilation appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. Despite a few challenges, the image largely held up well.
Softness could become a little iffy at times, mainly due to the nature of the source, as the movie went with slightly soft photography. Nonetheless, most of the film offered solid accuracy, so the less defined sequences popped up infrequently.
No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.
In terms of palette, a lot of the movie went with a dull blue impression, while scenes inside The Shimmer brought out a more green-oriented feel due to all the forest settings. The 4K’s HDr colors managed to give these some oomph.
Blacks appeared fairly deep and dense, while shadows showed generally good clarity and smoothness. I won’t use this as a demo image, but the picture felt like a pretty accurate version of the source.
Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack usually concentrated on atmospheric material. A movie with more of a “slow burn” feel rather than an action bent, the mix tended to focus on environmental information that filled the channels in a broad, engaging way.
Music used the various channels in an involving way, and the movie’s smattering of more active sequences worked well. These created a strong impression of these scenes and added zest to the proceedings.
Audio quality worked well, with speech that consistently came across as natural and concise. Music appeared strong, as the score and songs brought out warm, vivid tones.
Effects also came across nicely, as these elements boasted clear information with deep, firm low-end. The generally low-key nature of the mix made it a “B”, but it seemed appropriate for the film.
How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Audio remained the same, as both discs offered identical Atmos soundtracks.
The 4K’s visuals brought a bit of an upgrade, as it seemed a little better defined and added some zing via the HDR colors. Don’t expect a huge upgrade, but the 4K became the more satisfying version.
No extras appear on the 4K disc itself, but the included Blu-ray copy provides materials. All of the disc’s extras consist of featurettes, and these fall within three domains. Under Southern Reach, we find “Refractions” (11:20) and “For Those That Follow” (15:04)).
Across these, we hear from writer/director Alex Garland, producers Andrew MacDonald and Allon Reich, author Jeff VanderMeer, concept artist Jock, visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst, production designer Mark Digby, and actors Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny.
“Reach” looks at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, visual design and effects, cast and performances. The two shows deliver a nice array of details and work well. I especially like the discussion of how the production of Star Wars: The Last Jedi impacted Annihilation.
Next come two programs within Area X: “Shimmer” (12:12) and “Vanished Into Havoc” (15:03). In these, we get comments from Garland, Digby, Whitehurst, Portman, Reich, Isaac, MacDonald, Jock, Leigh, Rodriguez, Windsor location manager Damon Crane, Reich, marine coordinator Ian Creed, stunt coordinator Jo McLaren, special effects supervisor Hayley Williams, prosthetics and animatronics supervisor Tristan Versluis, stunt performer Jack Jagodka, and animatronics designer Guy Stevens.
The “Area X” pieces discuss sets and locations, stunts, and effects. “Area X” continues to positive trend from “Reach” and gives us a lot more good information.
Finally, we go to the two featurettes under To the Lighthouse: “Unfathomable Mind” (11:46) and “The Last Phase” (8:06). These bring notes from Jock, Garland, Whitehurst, Portman, Digby, Rodriguez, Thompson, MacDonald, Leigh, Isaac, and stunt performer Sonoya Mizuno.
“Lighthouse” offers more about visual design and effects, creature design, sets, Garland’s impact on the shoot, and general thoughts about the production. “Phase” proves fluffier than the other five segments, but “Lighthouse” still completes this package fairly well.
After a promising debut, Alex Garland falters somewhat with Annihilation. While the movie’s sumptuous visual style gives it a boost, the movie drags and falls short of its goals. The 4K UHD brings us largely positive picture and audio as well as an informative compilation of bonus materials. Annihilation comes with intriguing glimmers but the whole package doesn’t mesh.
To rate this film, visit the prior review of ANNIHILATION