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Book to Screen: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

By Bianca Smith • February 13, 2018

I am convinced now that I and the rest of the expedition were given access to these records for the simple reason that, for certain kinds of classified information, it did not matter what we knew or didn't know. There was only one logical conclusion: Experience told our superiors that few if any of us would be coming back.

Yes, Jeff VanderMeer's science fiction novel, Annihilation has been adapted for the screen, both big and small (more on that later).

Alex Garland–screenwriter and director–accepted the challenge of adapting the complex story. A story where four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist, sign up for a mission to Area X. The mission should be simple: map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one anotioner, and above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. All eleven previous missions have failed and resulted in death. There's something in remote Area X; only the first expedition returned. They reported a pristine, Edenic landscape. What will happen on the twelfth mission? Annihilation is the start of a trilogy, but the movie is designed to be standalone.

Annihilation the movie is supported by a strong cast and crew. Alex Garland also directed and wrote the screenplay for the Oscar-nominated Ex Machina. His first writing success was the backpacker cult favorite, The Beach—the book not the movie. For the cast, Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Oscar Isaac play leads.

But the big question is if it's a good adaptation. Early reports are that it's an accurate adaptation, and will be as love or meh as the book. Poor early screen tests declared it too intellectual and too complicated (but that doesn't mean it's bad). As a result, an executive producer wanted to change the ending and add more emotion to the Biologist's personality. However, the movie stayed intact, albeit with a revised distribution strategy. This is the big and small screen from earlier. Annihilation will get a cinema release in the United States and China, and Netflix elsewhere later in the year. This shouldn't be a poor reflection on the movie. It is a complicated and intellectual story, and Netflix can serve that niche well. If you love the book, we suspect you'll LOVE the movie.

Read Annihilation before it opens in American cinemas on February 23.

Read more by Bianca Smith

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Book_to_Screen | SciFi
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