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Natalie Portman to Lead Alex Garland's Next Sci-Fi Film 'Annihilation'

by
May 7, 2015
Source: Variety

Natalie Portman

Now this is some great casting we can be excited about! Variety is reporting that an Oscar winning actress is likely going to end up starring in the next sci-fi creation from Alex Garland, a screenwriter turned director whose feature directing debut Ex Machina is playing in theaters now. The project is called Annihilation, an adaptation of the Jeff VanderMeer series of novels, about a biologist who signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition to "Area X" where the laws of nature don’t apply. Paramount is developing and Garland has been talking about it in interviews with the attitude of "let's see if it happens", but it sounds like the project is gaining momentum, especially with a star like Portman. This is very good news for the science fiction genre.

Here's the official synopsis of the first book in the trilogy (via Amazon) which sounds quite interesting:

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one anotioner, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

The report in Variety mentions that the deal with Portman is "dependent on production starting no sooner than the beginning of 2016, but sources say it seems like the two sides will settle on a start date soon." So it sounds like things are picking up steam, which isn't a surprise considering the success of (and critical support behind) Ex Machina, Garland's robot thriller which finally opened in the US in April. Natalie Portman is still set to appear in Jane Got a Gun later this year, but she has been laying low for the most part ever since she had a baby. She's also in Terrence Malick's Knight of Cups, and her directional debut A Tale of Love and Darkness will premiere at Cannes this summer. We'll keep an eye out for the latest updates.

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  • DAVIDPD
    Sounds super heady and amazing. Looking forward to see what Garland can do with A-list talent.
  • NathanDewey
    I like Portman. It's been a while since I've seen her in a movie. I think the last movie of hers I saw was Black Swan, and she was spectacular. I'm not familiar with the book series but that premise sounds great so I might have to give it a look. On a side note, Ex Machina is expanding to a theatre nearby tomorrow and I'm very excited to see it.
  • avconsumer2
    Interesting. Pretty polarized reviews on amazon for the book(s).
    • timothyzila
      The book is honestly one of the best things I've read (not just sci-fi, either) in the last few years. If it's polarizing, that's at least somewhat because Amazon is a haven for idiots. What great movie/books don't have laughingly misinformed reviews? But yeah, I'd give it a chance yourself (the first book was really cheap on the Kindle, at least for a while, and after reading that I immediately purchased the hardback trilogy collection).
      • avconsumer2
        lol - re: Amazon = idiot haven. Valid point sir. I am a sucker for sci-fi & will put near the top of my infinitely long "to read" list.
  • Bo
    Interesting bit of casting news. I'd really also be interested in who will be cast for the other three female roles. I'm about to start reading the book so will see if it is any good or not. Still, with Garland's adaptation of the novel for what I consider a great film Never Let Me Go, I'm pretty interested in whatever he does. I've yet to see Ex Machina, but mean to in the near future. So, who's going to be the other three female leads? Ummm...
  • ZoinksRaggy
    This better not wind up being something like that awful movie "the Sphere" where the survey party's thoughts and dreams were manifested by alien technology. What a terrible movie.
  • IT-- II --IT
    Authorized, predictive programming gridlock. PORTMAN continues to obediently WASTE time. STEP AROUND STEP AROUND

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