The first look at the upcoming film Annihilation has arrived, teasing the strange and surreal world Natalie Portman will find herself in next year. While Alex Garland has been working as a writer for years, it wasn’t until his directorial debut with Ex Machina that he really made a splash. Pulling from his previous experience writing for films like 28 Days Later, Garland crafted an eerie sci-fi movie anchored by the performance of Alicia Vikander. Vikander has since won an Oscar and is ready to make it big starring in Tomb Raider next year, around the same time that Garland’s new film is also due to start playing in theaters.
Annihilation will see Garland writing and directing an adaptation of the first entry in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach book trilogy. The film will star Portman, along with Tessa Thompson, Gina Rodriguez, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Oscar Isaac. We’ve already seen set photos from Annihilation, and even got a taste of the film thanks to descriptions of the Annihilation footage that was shown at CinemaCon earlier this year. Now, additional details concerning the project has arrived, along with the first official image from the movie.
EW has the first screenshot from Annihilation, with Portman examining what appears to be a rather-dead alligator. In the film, Portman will play a scientist who, along with her team, investigates a mysterious place referred to as simply Area X. When she does, she and her team will encounter a number of bizarre and trippy elements, according to Garland:
“[She] finds a very strange, dream-like, surrealist landscape, and goes deeper and deeper into that world, and also into that mindset.”
It looks as if the alligator will be Portman and her team’s first clue that something out of the ordinary is occurring in Area X, based on what Garland told EW:
“It is their first tangible encounter with something strange. The alligator has physical elements to it that should not belong on an alligator. They’re starting to get their heads around how weird the place is.”
For fans of the Southern Reach book trilogy, the Annihilation adaptation should come as an exciting development. Garland’s involvement and the stellar cast could make for quite an intriguing sci-fi film, and there’s certainly plenty of worthwhile source material to pull from. That being said, Garland insists that he isn’t approaching the movie as being the beginning of a film trilogy:
“I did once work on a film called Dredd, which I imagined to be the first part of a trilogy. But it’s not something I like doing. I’d rather work on a story that I felt was self-contained rather than one that sort of had a ‘dot-dot-dot’ at the end. I think that provokes a sort of instant, understandable, cynicism. We sense the money grab and I feel that pollutes the story. So, right from the get-go, I did not think of this as being part of a trilogy; I thought of it as being just a single, self-contained movie. If other people wanted to do that, that would be fine. That’s none of my business. But from my point of view, it’s just one.”
Given what happened with Dredd, it’s no surprise Garland doesn’t want to focus on the potential future of a franchise. Even 28 Days Later was eventually followed by a poorly-received sequel. For now, Annihilation looks to be a one-off, but that could always change.
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