Annihilation ★★★★★

I have a checkered relationship with the work of author Jeff VanderMeer (for every great novel he writes, he also craps out five unreadable ones), and I also have a checkered relationship with the work of director Alex Garland (I thought his previous Ex Machina was an interesting experiment, but also as boring as watching paint dry); so for the two of them to be so on top of their game at the same moment here, in both story and adaptation of that story, is a minor miracle. You deserve to go into this film knowing absolutely nothing about it, so I'll keep my review short today; but I will say that it's a heartbreaking crime that a movie this smart, dark, complex and cutting-edge failed so spectacularly at the box office. (It cost $40 million to make, but only made half that back while in theaters.) The next time you hear someone say, "Gee, I wish Hollywood would make smarter genre films, because I'm so sick of the usual brain-dead superhero crap," you now have my permission to scream in their face, "NO YOU DON'T, LIAR! YOU FUCKING LIAR!!!"

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