Alex Garland's second directorial feature arrives on Feb. 23 in the form of Annihilation, an adaptation of the first book in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy. Garland made a big splash in 2015 with his directorial debut Ex Machina, a critical hit that quickly put Garland on the map. The story of an artificially intelligent robot, played by Alicia Vikander, was smart, suspenseful, terrifying, and darkly atmospheric — and an instant sci-fi classic.
The real question now was whether Garland could recapture that genius on his second project, which — like Machina — he wrote and directed. If you were worrying that he might have been a one-hit wonder, your fears are unfounded. Early reactions to Annihilation have begun to surface, and they universally praise it as profound and visually stunning, with enough brains and strong female characters to stick with you long after the credits have rolled.
Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, Tessa Thompson, and Tuva Novotny star as an expedition team venturing into The Shimmer, a mysterious disaster zone where life mutates beyond imagination. Paramount Pictures will distribute the movie in the U.S. and China while Netflix handles the rest of the world.