Natalie Portman is seeking for answers in the trippy Area-X in Alex Garland’s Annihilation.
Alex Garland surprised audiences by his last picture, Ex Machina. Now he returns with his latest film, an adaption of Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation.
Annihilation, the first book of the Southern Reach trilogy, details the twelfth expedition into the mysterious Area-X. The group of explorers is made of four women; The Biologist (Natalie Portman), The Psychologist (Jennifer Jason Leigh), The Surveyor (Tessa Thompson), and an Anthropologist (Gina Rodriguez). All other missions into Area-X have all lead to some kind of catastrophe, including one taken by the Biologist’s husband (Oscar Issac). The biologist wants to know what’s in there that could be so dangerous. She’s expecting the unexpected, but it seems that Area-X is even more than she bargained for.
Garland’s take on Annihilation has been in production for a long time. In fact, when Garland first got his hands on the treatment for Annihilation only one of three of the Southern Reach novels had been finished. When Garland spoke to Vanity Fair in 2016, he said “At the point I started working on Annihilation, there was only one of the three books. I knew that it was planned as a trilogy by the author, but there was only the manuscript for the first book. I really didn’t think too much about the trilogy side of it.” Even though the novels keep common themes intact, it looks as though they could do so with entirely different casts. It remains to be seen if Garland will continue the series or if someone else will come along to adapt the second novel.
It is a wonderful time in film for smart science-fiction. With the release of Blade Runner 2049 on the horizon and Annihilation coming early next year, thought-provoking sci-fi is here to stay. Whether or not audiences will be accepting of material with no easy answers remains to be seen, but Annihilation looks too damn intriguing to ignore.
Annihilation hits theaters February 23rd, 2018.