Area X is not your average patch of American land.
Over the years, no less than 11 expeditions have crossed the border into Jeff VanderMeer’s preternatural territory, only to return with strange illnesses or crippling cancer. Assuming they returned at all. Undeterred by this horrible track record, the Powers That Be mount an all-female 12th expedition to Area X, featuring a team comprised of an anthropologist, surveyor, biologist, and psychologist.
That is, in a nutshell, the elevator pitch of Annihilation, VanderMeer’s literary trilogy-starter that’s headed for the big screen under the watchful eye of Alex Garland (Dredd, Ex Machina). Pegged for a release in February of 2017, Garland’s adaptation has tapped an all-star cast headed up by Natalie Portman, who can be seen getting up close and personal with the bizarre wildlife in EW’s first-look still.
On board to play the curious biologist, Portman will be flanked by Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tuva Novotny, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), while writer-director Alex Garland went on to talk about the dangers to come.
[She] finds a very strange, dream-like, surrealist landscape, and goes deeper and deeper into that world, and also into that mindset.
Also starring Oscar Isaac (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) as Portman’s estranged husband, who was one of the only surviving members of expedition number 11, Annihilation is the first book in VanderMeer’s three-part Southern Reach saga. Though Alex Garland is wary of getting swept up in trilogy talk.
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.
Annihilation is penciled in for a release on February 23rd, 2018, exactly one week after the launch of Marvel’s Black Panther solo flick.