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Nothing comes back: all the updates, trailers, and commentary for Alex Garland’s Annihilation

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Annihilation is based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer. It follows a team of women who are dispatched on an expedition into a mysterious region called Area X. The area is cut off by a strange, translucent barrier called the Shimmer, and beyond it, nature has taken over in strange ways.

The film is directed by Ex Machina director Alex Garland and stars Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, and Benedict Wong. Follow along for all of the updates, trailers, and commentary for Annihilation, which opens on February 23rd, 2018.

  • Bryan Bishop

    Feb 28, 2018

    Bryan Bishop

    How Annihilation’s visual effects artists created those terrifying mutant creatures

    Photo by Peter Mountain / Paramount Pictures

    The last time director Alex Garland and visual effects supervisor Andrew Whitehurst worked together, they created Alicia Vikander’s Ava, the robot star of Ex Machina. For their follow-up collaboration, Annihilation, they had a much bigger set of challenges. Garland’s newest film is a heady mind-trip that explores humanity’s self-destructive impulses, but it’s also a walking tour of the gorgeous and the grotesque. The story of Lena (Natalie Portman), a biologist who joins a group of women to explore an area of coastal America that’s rapidly mutating due to an alien contaminant, Annihilation is full of improbably beautiful biological mashups, shimmering landscapes, and human-plant hybrids.

    It also features one of the most terrifying creatures to hit the screen in years. If you haven’t seen the film already, I suggest you stop reading now — but if you have, you probably already know exactly what I’m talking about. The Annihilation bear is a harrowing mutated beast that combines animal and human physiology, and it vocalizes with a mixture of roaring and the agonized screams of the last person it killed. It’s a nightmarish creature, and one of the film’s most indelible images.

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  • Tasha Robinson

    Feb 26, 2018

    Tasha Robinson

    The original ending of Annihilation sounds better

    Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

    Alex Garland’s heady, dreamlike science fiction movie Annihilation opened over the weekend to a modest $11 million box office take that looks paltry compared to Black Panther’s stunning numbers, but it’s still about what distributor Paramount Pictures projected. The film is something of a hard sell for widespread, mainstream audiences: it’s more philosophical than action-oriented, it’s distinctly weird and idiosyncratic, and it ends on an inconclusive moment that suggests a few different possibilities without explaining or committing to any of them.

    But according to a script report from Slashfilm, Garland’s script originally had a more definitive conclusion that suggested a future for Annihilation’s world. That ending seems potentially stronger: it’s more specific, more thought-through, and less like a standard familiar horror-movie twist.

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  • Tasha Robinson

    Feb 23, 2018

    Tasha Robinson

    Annihilation is the most thoughtful science fiction movie since Arrival

    Peter Mountain / Paramount Pictures

    In the spoiler-sensitive environment of today’s entertainment, there may be people who resent the opening scenes of Annihilation, which gives away most of the movie’s direction. A biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) has survived a cataclysmic event. Sitting in an isolation chamber, surrounded by unnerved people in hazmat suits, she’s interrogated about what just happened to her. In the process, she reveals who among the yet-to-be-introduced cast of characters survives, and who dies. And the scene makes it clear that while some of her companions may be alive, she’s the only one who made it back to report. This framing device can’t quite be called foreshadowing: the details Lena lays out are too solid to be shadows. They’re just fore-facts. And they hang over Annihilation with a sense of leaden inevitability.

    But it’s a mark of success for the film that even knowing the outcome doesn’t disperse the tension. Annihilation is a portentous movie, and a cerebral one. It’s gorgeous and immersive, but distancing. It’s exciting more in its sheer ambition and its distinctiveness than in its actual action. And by giving away so many details about the ending up front, writer-director Alex Garland (Ex Machina) seems to be emphasizing that Annihilation isn’t about who-will-live dynamics, or the fast mechanics of action scenes. It’s about the slow, subdued journey Lena and the others take into the unknown, and how it affects them emotionally.

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  • Feb 3, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    A new trailer for Alex Garland’s Annihilation shows off the weirdness of Area X

    Paramount Pictures has released a new trailer for Alex Garland’s upcoming science fiction-horror film Annihilation, showing off the strange world that an expedition finds when they enter a zone called Area X.

    The film is based on the 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer, about a team of scientists that enters the region and discovers a surreal world where nature has taken over in strange ways. We’ve seen a bit of this weirdness in prior trailers and featurettes, but in this new trailer, we see the team trying to comprehend the world they’re walking through.

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  • Jan 26, 2018

    Andrew Liptak

    A new featurette explains Annihilation’s mysterious Area X

    One of the most anticipated movies of 2018 is Alex Garland’s Annihilation, a science-horror story set in a region of the country that’s been isolated by a mysterious barrier called the Shimmer. A new featurette helps explain what the barrier is — and what lies beyond it.

    The film is based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, and it follows a five-woman team that ventures past the barrier and into Area X, where they discover a world that nature has taken over in strange ways.

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  • Dec 13, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    The latest trailer for Alex Garland’s Annihilation shows off a strange new world

    In September, Paramount released the first trailer for Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s next science fiction thriller Annihilation, showing off an expedition entering a bizarre world. Today, the studio released a new trailer that shows off the utter strangeness of Area X.

    Based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation is about a journey into a surreal universe. The new trailer gives us a deeper look into the film's surreal world.

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  • Sep 27, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Watch the first trailer from Alex Garland’s next movie Annihilation

    One of 2018’s most anticipated films, Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s Annihilation, now has a trailer.

    Annihilation is based on a novel by Jeff VanderMeer, and it’s one of the best horror novels to come out in recent years. The film boasts an impressive cast, including Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Oscar Isaac. The trailer opens with a shot of a five-woman team walking across a wide field and into a strange barrier. Beyond the translucent wall is Area X: a lush, surrealistic world cut off from our own, in which nature has returned in some bizarre ways. We then see Portman’s character back in a clean room, being questioned about what she saw on her mission in that world.

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  • Aug 3, 2017

    Andrew Liptak

    Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s next film will hit theaters on February 23rd

    Ex Machina promotional still (A24)

    Paramount has set a release date for Ex Machina writer-director Alex Garland’s next film, Annihilation: February 23rd, 2018.

    Based on a 2014 novel by Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation stars Natalie Portman as a biologist who joins an expedition into a mysterious zone called Area X after her husband (Oscar Isaac, who starred in Ex Machina and The Force Awakens) returned home from a year-long absence in the same region. The film also stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight), Gina Rodriguez (Jane the Virgin), and Tessa Thompson (Creed). We had a chance to see some of the footage from the film earlier this year at CinemaCon, and found it to be mesmerizing.

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  • Jamieson Cox

    Mar 30, 2016

    Jamieson Cox

    Oscar Isaac is joining the cast of Alex Garland’s new sci-fi movie Annihilation

    Handout/Getty Images

    Oscar Isaac and Alex Garland are teaming back up for Garland's new movie Annihilation, an adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's beguiling 2014 sci-fi novel of the same name. Isaac is joining an already-impressive cast: Natalie Portman, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tessa Thompson are all on board. The movie will revolve around a four-person expedition into Area X, a mysterious zone that had adverse effects on 11 earlier exploratory teams; Isaac will play Portman's husband, a member of an earlier expedition. VanderMeer confirmed the casting through his personal Twitter account early this morning.

    Annihilation will become Isaac and Garland's second major project together. Isaac played enigmatic genius Nathan in Ex Machina, Garland's impressive 2015 directorial debut, and he won plenty of praise for the role before moving on to slightly higher-budget fare. (It was quite the year.) If it stays true to its source material, Annihilation has the potential to hit all of the same creepy, thought-provoking sweet spots Ex Machina prodded, and Isaac has the chops to help the movie stick even if his role ends up somewhat limited. Put it this way: we still don't have a reason to suggest Annihilation is going to be anything other than "sweet as hell." It's set to open sometime in 2017.

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  • Russell Brandom

    Jan 6, 2016

    Russell Brandom

    Alex Garland's Annihilation is shaping up to be sweet as hell

    Alex Garland's Annihilation is coming together, and the details are extremely encouraging. Natalie Portman and Jane the Virgin's Gina Rodriguez both signed on in the past few months, and this week, The Wrap reported that Creed's Tessa Thompson is the lead contender for the third major role. After a long limbo, Garland's self-declared followup to Ex Machina is actually happening. The film is expected to start shooting next spring with studio backing from Paramount, on track for a 2017 opening.

    It's an exciting, risky move, largely because of the source material. Annihilation the book was one of the best science fiction stories to come out of the last few years — and before Garland got involved, I probably would have told you it was unfilmable. The story focuses on a four-person mission exploring a mysterious zone (called Area X) over the course of a few days. It's a perfect, simple sci-fi premise, and Vandermeer uses it to explore really strange ideas about consciousness, science, and psychological control, without ever straying too far from the basic question of what the hell is going on in Area X. By the end, he's staked out new territory for the whole genre, getting way, way weirder than anything Hollywood has taken on in recent years.

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