Interviews with Annihilation Stars Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac and More

Natalie Portman in Annihilation

Interviews with Annihilation Stars Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac and More

"An argument could be made for several things, but generally, if you're trying to say everything, you're not saying much of anything".

Garland, adapting the novel of the same name by Jeff VanderMeer, creates a world of stark logic that remains somehow surreal, and the team's journey into the heart, brain, liver and spleen of darkness is magical while still being rooted in procedure, chain-of-command, maps and tents and meals-ready-to-eat. Annihilation, starring Natalie Portman, follows Lena, a biologist and former soldier, as she joins a mission to try and uncover what happened her husband on a treacherous expedition.

Three years ago, a unusual cloud that resembles shimmering oil in water (ingeniously named the "Shimmer") engulfed a chunk of coastline and has been expanding inland ever since. What's more alarming is that nearly nothing the military has sent into the affected area, drone or human, has returned.

As for what that looks like in Annihilation, Isaac mused on the concept of self-destruction: "All of us have a potential but a tendency towards self-destruction". Past the Shimmer's translucent walls, the scientists find a verdant place teeming with life. But it's not an overtly evil entity, merely one that wants to survive, grow, and multiply like any species in existence such as the shape-shifting alien in John Carpenter's remake of "The Thing". "With Ex-Machina and Annihilation, you just have the opportunity to talk about very deep - hard to speak of - human things". There are a couple of moments in the film that are stomach-turningly revolting. One instance of unadulterated creature feature terror, you'll be reminded why Rob Bottin's practical effects are so terrifying in "The Thing", the recognizable becoming otherworldly.

Isaac • What he's interested in exploring is also what's very interesting to me.

This is a serious, considered film. Annihilation is an ambitious next step for Garland, who launched his career with the screenplay for 28 Days Later, but his track record makes him a good match for Vandermeer's foggy and verdant bio-horror. It's rare that a studio movie dares to engage with an audience in such a somber and probing and insistent way, affording the audience little time to breathe or clear their heads. Annihilation isn't set up as any kind of "go girl", "strong female character" message movie, but there is definitely some feminist triumph in seeing this kind of story told from an entirely female perspective. "[.] Annihilation becomes ever more trippy and challenging - and thus ever more interesting". Their dynamic shows how all the competing facets of a person-steeliness and sorrow, fear and flintiness-can coexist and inform one another.

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While the film's narrative thrust is unwavering, it's still depressingly easy to see why Paramount would worry for its box office chances. Its humanity is specific, nuanced, more fully realized. You can't negotiate with the natural order.

Of course, it helps to have the right actresses in the roles. Lena is brought up to speed on his top secret mission by Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh).

As somebody who has done a Halo tie-in novel and a Predator tie-novel, I felt really great in those situations. It's a particularly startling pleasure to watch Rodriguez work in this mode, traveling miles away from Jane the Virgin. I was like there's so many elements. His characters speak maybe too smoothly.

The movie is absolutely mind-bending, but the ending still has me wondering exactly what the heck happened. Couldn't it just build forever? The significant difference is, one you do alone, and the other you do with a group of people. That feels like a too-neat way to humanize a story that already speaks to plenty of human questions and worries. But where this film is concerned, I think it's a coincidence. That would be irresponsible, and would likely lead to even fewer films being made.

This is your second film together. Annihilation murmurs and roars with ideas, a dense and sad and scary inquest into life and self.

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