It’s been years since we’ve seen a major studio act so sheepishly about a film of their own doing as Paramount Pictures has with Annihilation, the strikingly “intellectual” new brainchild from writer/director Alex Garland, whose past successes include science fiction head-trips like Sunshine and the Oscar-winning Ex Machina. Paramount’s last-minute no-confidence vote has denied it an international theatrical release in favor of dumping it on overseas Netflix. Paramount’s official page for the film provides only the trailer embedded via YouTube and a link to the film’s “official site“…which just redirects to a Facebook page. I’m accustomed to short films and indie projects setting up shop on Facebook, but it’s disappointing for a corporation of Paramount’s size to limit their own product to such a minuscule online footprint. Apparently they were holding out hope that Garland might rewrite and reshoot to add some super awesome monster fights.
Funny story: my original plan for Wednesday night was to add one last movie to my 2015 list, with a showing of The Good Dinosaur. Unfortunately showtimes were scarce because it’s exiting local theaters earlier than I’d expected. Having barely crossed the $100 million mark after five weeks, it’s about to go down in the books as the lowest grossing Pixar film of all time, with or without adjusting for inflation. I’m not ready to quit Pixar yet, so I did some digging and found exactly one screen that offered me the right time and place. Then my morning started off with a mysterious technical malfunction that ruined my entire itinerary and kicked off a domino effect that later slammed my window of opportunity shut. Alas, poor cartoon with mediocre trailers, I have yet to know thee.
I searched the theater listings once more for our side of town in hopes that I could simply catch a later showing without driving forty miles out of my way…and then I noticed Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight just opened. I hadn’t attended a movie on opening night since The Matrix in 1999, so for that novelty alone I figured why not. The 70mm roadshow version is playing nowhere in Indiana at the moment, but I figured I could cope with the ostensibly inferior mainstream version. Call it the Director’s Compromise Cut, I guess.
You’ll have to pardon me in this moment of aesthetic whiplash if I seem a little grouchy with the results. The past few days have seen quite a few confounded expectations.