According to one of the producers, we might not be smart enough to understand it (we’re just dumb old movie fans after all), but I’m still rather jazzed about Alex Garland’s Annihilation. The adaptation of the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy just dropped a new trailer. Check it out below.
This is a distinct departure from the previous Annihilation trailer. That showed off a vague, esoteric style of science fiction, while this leans heavily on the action beats. We see a lot of Natalie Portman shooting a machine gun and battling monsters, and there’s a trippy Apocalypse Now/Heart of Darkness journey-into-madness vibe.
While I dig that, this feels like a very different movie from what the last look was selling. And I’m definitely more amped for what we saw before. That was more in line with Garland’s last film, Ex Machina, smart, thoughtful, idea-driven sci-fi. I’m certainly not opposed to action in any form, and certainly not in my sci-fi, but I’m much less enthused by this Annihilation trailer.
Cards on the table, I haven’t read the Southern Reach books (though I plan to when I can grab a moment), so I don’t have a ton of investment. But I’ve encountered rumblings that they appear to have made substantial changes to key elements, specifically the motivations of Natalie Portman’s character.
Still, it’s difficult not to not get excited for Annihilation. In addition to Garland and Portman, it also stars Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tuva Novotny, Oscar Isaac, and Benedict Wong. That’s a powerful team up if I’ve ever seen one.
Here’s a plot synopsis:
A biologist's husband disappears. She puts her name forward for an expedition into an environmental disaster zone, but does not quite find what she's expecting. The expedition team is made up of the biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, and a surveyor.
Despite misgivings from some quarters, I’m all-in on this. And as I’ve said, I’m psyched to see Alex Garland continue to work in science fiction. I’m here for that all day.
Annihilation opens February 23, 2018.