It’s been three months since audiences received their first glimpse into the beautifully bizarre world of Alex Garland’s upcoming feature, Annihilation. Today Paramount released a longer trailer that presents a deeper look at Garland’s new world and its cast of players, while also making us wonder “WTF is this movie?”
Annihilation is the first book in author Jeff VanderMeer’s “Southern Reach” trilogy. The cinematic adaptation was announced in 2016. It follows an unnamed biologist (played in the film by Natalie Portman) as she goes on a quest with a group of female scientists to explore a growing patch of land known as “Area X,” in search of answers regarding her husband. The news that Garland would be making this his next feature – hot off the heels of his superlative sci-fi drama Ex Machina and reteaming with that film’s star, Oscar Isaac – only stoked the fires of audiences’ imaginations regarding how intriguing Annihilation could be.
The first teaser didn’t contain a lot, and this extended trailer offers a few more answers about the narrative. Portman’s biologist is tasked with going into the shimmering unknown to find out what’s inside her husband (played by Isaac), who originally went into the area before her and has returned. Tessa Thompson and Gina Rodriguez are part of the team sent into the area and all manner of hell breaks loose, including alligators with shark teeth, weird skeleton bears, and an unknown entity whose “form” we can only guess at.
Thompson and Jane the Virgin’s Gina Rodriguez are fleshed out more in this trailer. It’s unclear which characters from VanderMeer’s novel they’re playing, though it’s assumed each will be a tough-as-nails soldier. It’s evident the duo know how to shoot and are clearly frightened by what’s happening around them. If anything it’ll be great to see Jane the Virgin put her pen down and get into the action. Oscar Isaac garners the most screen time in this 2-minute trailer as Portman’s husband. His character in the novel is a one-scene wonder so it looks like we’ll see him play more of a part in videoed flashbacks and acting adorable in earlier moments with Portman.
The book was always going to be a tough sell; it’s a dense and cerebral text that acts as an experience, rather than a narrative. It’s perfectly suited to Garland’s visual style, though. Despite how beautiful it looks – and that doesn’t include the beauty that is Oscar Isaac – there are some reasons for trepidation. The film was originally meant to drop in October, but rumors of a disastrous test screening forced Garland and crew to reedit. Just last week it was announced that Garland and the film’s producers were arguing over the feature, which will stream immediately to Netflix internationally 17 days after it’s released in the U.S. and Canada.
Annihilation hits theaters in the U.S. on February 23, 2018 and is available worldwide on Netflix March 12.