Despite being wowed by all of the footage I’ve seen from Ex Machina director Alex Garland’s new sci-fi thriller Annihilation, I became a bit worried about the film not only when I heard Paramount had sold the international distribution rights to Netflix, but also when I saw that the review embargo does not lift until the day before the film opens in the United States.
However, to my surprise, the studio decided to screen Annihilation for a small group of film journalists in both New York and Los Angeles last night and, shortly after the screening was over, they were allowed to share their thoughts on social media, and let’s just say the first reactions I’ve seen have put any worries I had about Annihilation to rest.
Based on Jeff VanderMeer’s best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation follows Lena, a biologist and former soldier, who joins a mission to what happened to her husband inside Area X, a mysterious phenomenon expanding across the American coastline. Once inside, Lena’s expedition discovers a world of mutated landscape and creatures that threatens both their lives and their sanity.
Annihilation stars Natalie Portman, Oscar Isaac, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Gina Rodriguez, and Tessa Thompson, and will open in U.S. theaters on February 23, and will hit Netflix just 17 days later for those of you overseas. You can check out the first social media reactions to the film below and be sure to keep an eye out for the full reviews on February 22.
ANNHILATION is, in wholly inelegant terms, one hell of a mindfuck. Most of the time, I didn't want it to end; occasionally, I was so unsettled I thought I might keel over.
— Kate Erbland (@katerbland) February 8, 2018
— Jenna Busch (@JennaBusch) February 8, 2018
ANNIHILATION: I was lucky enough to get an early peek, and have kept thinking about it for months. Alex Garland has crafted a thrilling, beautiful and scary sci-fi which is progressive by not pointing out the gender of its protagonists. I spent a lot of it hiding behind my hands! pic.twitter.com/1e3Dv0d9pG
— Alicia Malone (@aliciamalone) February 8, 2018
Alex Garland’s #Annihilation is another example of the kind of brainy sci-fi we don’t see enough of. Badass female cast and a story that’s both beautiful and wickedly disturbing, and an ending you will talk about for days. Dug it so much pic.twitter.com/fW77z6xX4v
— ErikDavis (@ErikDavis) February 8, 2018
#Annihilation is big budget Alex Garland with all the head-spinning intelligence of "Ex Machina." It's violent and patient and then suddenly so transfixing you're pinned to your seat.
It'll take time to process. Another auteur studio gamble from Paramoint after "mother!"
— Zack Sharf (@ZSharf) February 8, 2018
This much is clear: #Annihilation is NOT the movie you walk out and take to Twitter for a quick opinion. It's grabs you hard and leaves you frazzled. Hats off to Paramount for letting Garland be himself on a bigger budget https://t.co/1nkKEmuPkF
— Zack Sharf (@ZSharf) February 8, 2018
Alex Garland's #Annihilation is absolutely phenomenal. It's gorgeous and mesmerizing, with brilliant performances from the entire ensemble. It's a remarkable vision, and has a sequence so thrilling that I was left literally dizzy. It will be on my Top 10 of 2018 without question. pic.twitter.com/zGmDGlyh0M
— Eric Eisenberg (@eeisenberg) February 8, 2018
The below image from ANNIHILATION is only mere taste of audacious weirdness that Alex Garland's film offers. By final 15 minutes, I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing on-screen. @jeffvandermeer fans, and anyone looking for big-budget ideas-based sci-fi, will be thrilled. pic.twitter.com/09boC0xx1v
— Barry Hertz (@HertzBarry) February 8, 2018
#ANNIHILATION: This is the type of sci-if we always say we want to see. Bold, challenging, singular, visually dazzling. Would not be the least bit surprised to see it hailed as a masterpiece (and it might actually be one).
— Ben Pearson (@benpears) February 8, 2018
— Drew Taylor (@DrewTailored) February 8, 2018
You know who else annihilates (I’m not gonna get tired of this) their roles? @HereIsGina AND @TessaThompson_x. Can all sci-fi films just have perfect all-female ensemble casts from now on? #Annihilation pic.twitter.com/QugaPYJqxk
— Manuel Betancourt (@bmanuel) February 8, 2018
Disney has no plans to reinstate James Gunn as director of ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’
Despite the strong support of nearly 400,000 fans via a Change.org petition and an open letter from the Guardians of the Galaxy cast themselves, Disney and Marvel have no plans to rehire James Gunn as the director of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 following his firing last month.
Variety reports that Gunn and Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn recently met to discuss the firing, which came after old, offensive tweets the filmmaker wrote nearly a decade ago began to resurface as part of a smear campaign led by right-wing blogger and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich.
While the meeting was described as “civil and professional,” Horn only decided to take the meeting “as a courtesy to clear the air with Gunn” and was not considering giving him a second chance, despite the pleas of Gunn’s agents. Sources with insider knowledge say Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige was out of town at the time of the meeting and was unable to attend, but supports Horn’s decision not to reinstate Gunn.
Earlier this month, the Guardians cast, including Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Bradley Cooper, Vin Diesel, Karen Gillan, Sean Gunn, Pom Klementieff, and Michael Rooker, all signed an open letter in support of Gunn, who was set to begin production on the third installment in the critically acclaimed franchise early next year.
Bautista has been particularly vocal about Gunn’s firing on social media, writing in one tweet that he will do what he is contractually obligated to do with Disney, but “Guardians without James Gunn is not what I signed up for” and that “it’s also pretty nauseating to work for someone who’d empower a smear campaign by fascists.”
Guardians 3 is scheduled to be released May 1, 2020, but, depending on how long it takes Disney and Marvel to find a replacement for Gunn, that date could, and will most likely, change.
YouTube forced to remove ‘The Nun’ jump-scare ad after getting complaints from terrified users
On Monday, YouTube announced that it had removed a video advertisement for The Nun, the upcoming next installment in The Conjuring franchise, for being in violation of their shocking content policy. However, it appears the ad in question only came to the video-sharing site’s attention after scaring the bejesus out of some very unsuspecting users.
“Warning! If you see an ad on YouTube with the volume sign being turned down and nothing else, it’s a jump-scare for The Nun movie coming out,” one Twitter user wrote last week. “I advise you look away and or turn down the volume if you have anxiety or just straight up hate jump-scares.”
Just a few days later, the official Twitter account for Team YouTube responded to the tweet, which has been retweeted more than 136,000 times since Sunday, saying that the advertisement was no longer running on their ad network.
The ad isn’t gone altogether from YouTube, though, as it has been reuploaded to the platform by dozens of users, one of which says they were “shook” after seeing the six-second clip at 3 a.m. one night. It begins with a volume icon going up and down against a black background before a horrifying, shrieking demonic-looking nun appears out of nowhere.
If you’re brave enough, you can check out the ad for yourself below. Don’t say we didn’t warn you, though.
Viola Davis leads Steve McQueen’s female-centric heist thriller in a riveting new ‘Widows’ trailer
Regency Enterprises and 20th Century Fox have released the trailer for Widows, the star-studded thriller from director Steve McQueen which features an ensemble cast that includes the likes of Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Ervio, Colin Farrell, Brian Tyree Henry, and Daniel Kaluuya, among others.
Described as a “blistering, modern-day thriller set against the backdrop of crime, passion, and corruption,” Widows follows four women with nothing in common except a debt left behind by their dead husbands’ criminal activities. Set in contemporary Chicago, amid a time of turmoil, tensions build when Veronica (Davis), Linda (Rodriguez), Alice (Debicki) and Belle (Erivo) take their fate into their own hands and conspire to forge a future on their own terms.
“Steve was interested in doing his own version of a gangster film,” New Regency president and CEO Brad Weston told The Hollywood Reporter back in 2014 when the film was still in development. “It felt fresh to him to combine a contemporary, hard-hitting, very grounded gangster movie with four strong female characters. We loved it because that’s who Steve is. He sees things differently.”
Co-written by McQueen along with Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, Widows also stars Garrett Dillahunt, Carrie Coon, Jacki Weaver, Jon Bernthal, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Robert Duvall, and Liam Neeson. The film will open in theaters just in time for awards season on November 16.