Alex Garland‘s Annihilation was released in the US theaters on February 23, and in other markets on March 12, by Netflix. According to many critics and reviewers, the movie outstanding visual effects cannot be appreciated on a small screen and this is unfair for the non-American public that won’t have the possibility to watch the movie on the big screen. A big polemic that is far to be over.
The husband of an ex-military biologist named Lena (Natalie Portman) disappears during a secret operation. He finally reappears one year later, but he is very sick. While trying to find an explanation for his health issues, Lena gets involved in an expedition into the same mysterious zone where he got lost in the first place. The team is made of the biologist, an anthropologist, a psychologist, a surveyor, and a linguist, and they will soon figure out that nothing there is as expected.
Great movies need great stories and great characters. Both Jeff VanderMeer‘s novel and Natalie Portman’s Lena are definitely fitting the profile. Annihilation is a movie with a great equilibrium between mystery, action, and emotions. Garland shows once again his talent and the outstanding visual effects are the icing on the cake. Truth is watching it on a small screen will cut by half the impact of certain scenes but this is a distribution problem more than a content one. We need more movies like this.
Realized with a budget of 40M dollars, Annihilation grossed about 30M in the US. The amount paid by Netflix to purchase the international distribution rights remains undisclosed. Difficult to say if this movie is a financial success or if it will be “just” a great movie for the audience.
The movie story is based on the first of three novels, so we might see a sequel coming soon. What is quite probable is that Garland and Portman won’t be part of the project since they were both frustrated by the Netflix distribution case.