Director Alex Garland was already highly respected as the screenwriter of modern sci-fi classics like “28 Days Later,” “Sunshine” and “Dredd,” but his critical acclaim turned white hot after his directorial debut last year, “Ex Machina.” Considered one of the best films of 2015 by many (including us), Garland quickly reteamed with producer Scott Rudin —who came onboard ‘Machina’ to help with its theatrical release he believed in it so much—for a moody, sci-fi-ish book called “Annihilation” by Jeff VanderMeer.
“It’s one of those bits of timing where something you’ve been thinking about, a vehicle for it just arrives,” Garland told us last year about Rudin dropping the book in his lap, recommending he read it and responding to it immediately. “It’s a beautifully written book. It pushes a whole bunch of things in me to do with stuff I read when I was a kid.”
And just like that the two were off and running. Already starring the eclectic cast of Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh Jennifer, Tessa Thompson, and Gina Rodriguez, apparently Garland is going back to one of his “Ex Machina” actors for a reteam. The Tracking Board reports that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (and “Ex Machina” lead) Oscar Isaac is joining a surrealist picture about a biologist who signs up for a dangerous, secret expedition to find answers to her husband’s tragic disappearance. But there are mysterious forces at work in the wilderness they encounter where the laws of nature don’t apply (Tilda Swinton and Julianne Moore were rumored to star at one point, but it’s doesn’t seem like those bits of casting panned out).
“It’s a group of women who enter into an area of America that has been sealed off, by the government, by an organization,” Garland told us. “It’s a surrealist science fiction novel, where these things are not really locked down or fully explained. They enter into this area, and what they find is some extremely strange landscape with some very strange things going on with it. It exists in a kind of surrealist dream state for a lot of it. It reminded me of J.G. Ballard and also felt like its own thing. I sort of think, ‘Right. Yeah, I’ve got a handle on how to make this. It’s kind of weird. Are you sure you want to make this film, because I would be into making it. But do you really want to make it, because it is very strange.’ “
Sounds like Garland easily sold himself on the project. The film is an adaption from the first novel of the “Southern Reach” trilogy by VanderMeer, so you never know, if it’s a hit more could be coming— despite the fact that Garland doesn’t really love sequels so much. The report is not yet confirmed by the trades, but “Annihilation” will reportedly begin shooting later this spring in London so final word should arrive any minute.
4/1/15 update: Guess it’s official now.
Very happy that Oscar Isaac is joining the cast of the movie version of my novel Annihilation!
— Jeff VanderMeer (@jeffvandermeer) March 30, 2016