Book vs Movie: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

It is no secret how much I admire Jeff VanderMeer’s craft and his book Annihilation in particular. It even made my Best of the Year list last year. I was beyond excited to watch the movie (I really love Natalie Portman) and finally got around to watching it.

25970139First things first, I am not in the “The book is always better than the movie” camp – because have you seen the glory that is Stardust? Or read the mess that is Gone With The Wind (I might have an unpopular opinion here)? I find that the two mediums can do different things and should be judged accordingly.

But, in this case I do think the book is better. I was sceptical whether the dread and confusion of the book could be transported to the screen and apparently rightfully so. While I thought the movie was visually stunning and wonderfully acted, I did not find the experience as mesmerizing as the book. I am fine with the changes made (for the most part) because they felt true if not for Annihilation than for Jeff VanderMeer’s body of work in general.The creatures felt right and worked well for the visuals of the movie. I am not so happy with the changes made for the main character who felt like a very different person. Natalie Portman, as always, was convincing and a joy to watch but I am not sure whether the changes really were necessary.

mv5bmtk2mjc2nzyxnl5bml5banbnxkftztgwmta2ota1ndm-_v1_sy1000_cr006401000_al_I thought the pacing of the movie was a bit wonky, especially in the middle, but can forgive that given the stunning conclusion that felt every bit as weird and psychedelic as necessary given the

My main gripe is the lack of trust given to the audience. One of my favourite things about Jeff VanderMeer’s books is that he trusts his readers to follow him and to draw their own conclusions. The movie did that to a certain degree but at some points felt it necessary to explain things to the audience that would be better left unsaid.

But, overall, I had a lot of fun watching the movie and thought it well worth my time. I thought it looked different enough to be exciting and weird enough to mostly fit the book.

Have you seen the movie and read the book? What were your thoughts? What are your thoughts on movie adaptations?


8 thoughts on “Book vs Movie: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

  1. I didn’t read the book, and I don’t go to many movies, but I did see this one in the theatre. I enjoyed it but it didn’t blow me away. The ending was tedious and unsatisfying. I usually am in the “like the book better” camp, but can’t comment on that this time! Thanks for your take.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I would definitely start with the book. I haven’t read the third book yet, so I also don’t know whether the movie made up explanations or if I got spoiled by watching it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have similar feelings about this! I just read the book in January and adored it, and saw the movie shortly after it came out. I thought it was well-done as a standalone film and thought some of the changes made sense. I did very much dislike how they changed the MC as I felt the movie put too much (all) of her motivations into her husband. I’ve read the second book, but not the third yet. Probably my biggest disappointment was finding out that the screenwriter only read the first book. The visuals were stunning, but I felt like part of what I liked about the book was the mystery and the vague sense of unease and wrongness, whereas the movie kind of feels like it hits you over the head with the mutations, etc.

    Anyway, clearly I have a lot of feelings about this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The movie did feel completely different than the book. The screenwriter hasn’t even read the rest of the trilogy? That just feels wrong. But at least now I don’t have to worry to have accidently been spoiled. I really need to get to the third book soon.

      Liked by 1 person

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