Cast of 'Annihilation' describe sci-fi environmental phenomenon

It has an incredibly compelling mystery at its heart, it's filled with nuanced performances by incredible actors, and it looks unbelievably fantastic.

Annihilation feels the same, though on a much bigger and more sensational scale.

I haven't read Jeff VanderMeer's novel yet, but I've heard a lot of people talk about how Garland's movie diverges pretty severely from the book.

In a setup reminiscent of "Arrival", in which Amy Adams' linguist finds herself at a military base established in the shadow of a odd and otherworldly and perhaps destructive something, Lena is taken to a secret government facility teeming with doctors, scientists and military personnel, all trying to understand and combat that inexplicable and expanding force in the woods, which seems to be on a course to consume and destroy the planet. These personal themes are then writ large in Lena's exploration of the Shimmer, creating a mirror image and walking a line that much of great sci-fi cinema walks. They nearly don't seem to recognize us as something worth conversation or regard. Where did this place come from? So, right away we know who makes it - and who doesn't - in a film that's still got about two hours of runtime to go. It's loaded with a stellar cast, including Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tessa Thompson, and Oscar Isaac.

Lena lost her husband long before Kane left to the Shimmer mission.

Lena (Natalie Portman), an esteemed biologist, would probably be better off not going to Area X. But she can't resist the temptation.

In some ways, Garland's plot is more straightforward than VanderMeer's. "Everything else", in this case, means an exploration of this undiscovered world, and Garland lets his imagination run wild in it.

-"Annihilation" is a trippy metaphysical science fiction movie that summons up a slew of other movies - among them "Stalker", "The Thing", "Alien", "Apocalypse Now", and, most often, "2001: A Space Odyssey" - and yet it doesn't quite resemble any other film. With its creatures and plant life, and its ethereal, smoky, rainbow-covered world photographed by cinematographer Rob Hardy, the Shimmer is cinematic world-building at its finest. A couple of hours of monotony are punctuated with a few moments of sheer terror. They also happen to carry heavy-duty artillery, and they know how to use it. As it stands, it just feels like something is missing.

Garland teases our understanding of Lena, starting with interrogation by a hazmat scientist, questions she cant answer. Explorers enter but never leave except Kane.

Earlier this month while hosting Saturday Night Live, Portman mentions in her monologue that she feels like society exists now in a world similar to the dystopian film, V for Vendetta. That movie was incredible.

There's also a structural problem. Annihilation may not be an easy sell, and it may not make much of a mark at the box office as a result, but Alex Garland has once again delivered an essential, visceral, adult science fiction experience, and wherever he goes from here, I will happily follow. The text that appears there, it's worth mentioning, sounds religious, but isn't necessarily from any known religious text. There is a crash site in the southern United States where an alien ecosystem has taken root, and every group they send in has met with disaster.

"Speaking with Collider, the director said: "[It's titled] Devs, as in Developers", Garland explained.

  • Salvatore Jensen