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.
First 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.
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?