Director Alex Garland's mind-bending, intellectual sci-fi Annihilation released to controversy. Allegations of whitewashing and studio meddling plagued the film, yet it was a massive critical success -- but did dismally financially.
Nevertheless, Annihilation tells the story of a group of women (led by Jennifer Jason Leigh's Dr. Ventress) who venture into the mysterious world of The Shimmer to simultaneously figure out what happened to previous expeditions and to study it. But when the team, composed of Natalie Portman's Lena (the films antagonist), Tessa Thompson's Josie Radeck, Tuva Novotny's Cassie Sheppard, and Gina Rodriguez's Anya Thorensen, learn the true nature of The Shimmer, they are horrified and scared -- for their lives and for the lives of those around the world. After the rest of her team dies, it is up to Lena to end The Shimmer (by destroying the lighthouse) once and for all. After fighting a sinister mimic alien, she accomplishes this by lighting a phosphorous grenade, but is drastically changed -- like her husband (played by Oscar Isaac, who shot the film on the same soundstage and at the same time as Star Wars: The Last Jedi) by The Shimmer's stunning and devastating DNA-changing power.
Garland said he wrote the screenplay as a "memory of the book." Meaning, he didn't use the book as a reference when writing the screenplay; he used the memory of the book as a reference point for tone/story of the film and created a story around that.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, Annihilation holds an exceptional 87% critic score. However, it only grossed 42.9 million dollars against a 55 million dollar budget (something offset by Paramount selling the international rights to the film to streaming giant Netflix). It could be said that Annihilation will be remembered because of the drama behind it; it should be said, however, that Annihilation is a fantastic film beloved by many. Says Richard Roeper -- praising the film -- of the Chicago Sun-Times: "Kudos to Garland and the cast, but bravo to Scott Rudin as well. Apparently you knew a masterpiece when you saw it, and you made sure we were able to see it as well.