'Annihilation' Trailer: Natalie Portman Goes On A Doomed Sci-Fi Trip

Annihilation is one of the smartest and creepiest science fiction books I've ever read. Ex Machina is one of the smartest and creepiest science fiction films I've ever seen. So naturally writer/director Alex Garland feels like a natural match for a film adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer's novel, a haunting and cerebral tale of an expedition gone terribly wrong. Natalie Portman, always wonderful in everything, taking on the lead role is another promising sign.

The new Annihilation trailer has arrived and it's beautiful and unsettling and...looks and feels nothing like the source material. A trick of the marketing or a sign of an adaptation that wasn't precious about the book it's adapting? We shall see.

The film follows an expedition made up of five women who venture into a bizarre place known as "Area X." The rules of the natural world don't apply within its borders. Weird, bad stuff happens here. They are not the first group to attempt to explore and study the area and they're armed with the knowledge that awful things have befallen every other group to enter. And since one of the men whose lives was ruined by his experiences there just so happens to be the husband of Portman's character, things get a little personal.

Annihilation Trailer

Natalie Portman stars as the Biologist, the lead of the story. The expedition is filled out by Jennifer Jason Leigh as the Psychologist, Gina Rodriguez as the Anthropologist, Tessa Thompson as the Surveyor, and Tuva Novotny as the Linguist. The men back home are played by The Martian and Doctor Strange star Benedict Wong as some kind of government official and Oscar Isaac as Portman's husband, who was ruined by his time spent in Area X.

While this trailer is full of stunning imagery and moments both gorgeous and terrifying, it all looks a bit louder and a bit more generic than VanderMeer's novel, which relegated much of the conflict to the Biologist's internal monologue and leaned on dread and foreboding rather than vicious creatures. Quite frankly, there are more CGI monsters and lot more gunfire in this trailer than I was expecting. That doesn't mean Annihilation will be a bad movie (Garland is a smart filmmaker and Annihilation is a hard nut to crack!), but I hope the final film reflects the brainy, creepy novel and fills me with same sense of existential dread. This trailer feels very much like the result of the behind-the-scenes conflicts on the film, where producers are butting heads over whether the film is "too intellectual" for audiences.

Annihilation is set to open on February 23, 2018.