Hidden Sci-Fi Gem Most People Haven't Seen is Streaming on Netflix AND Prime

Hidden Sci-Fi Gem Most People Haven't Seen is Streaming on Netflix AND Prime
Image credit: Paramount Pictures

Meet your new favorite sci-fi hero.


  • In 2018, the director/writer behind Ex Machina came out with a new sci-fi thriller.
  • In spite of stellar reviews, it flew under the radar.
  • However, the movie is slowly gaining the recognition it deserves.

Sometimes movies get overlooked for no particular reason. For instance, in 2018 a sci-fi movie came out with an all star cast, gorgeously unique visuals, and an ambitious script that received near-universal acclaim. And yet, very few people have seen it.

Annihilation tells the story of cellular biology professor Lena (Natalie Portman ). She and her husband are both working for the army when a meteor falls to earth and creates an anomalous zone called 'The Shimmer'. Nobody who enters The Shimmer ever returns, but it is slowly expanding and could eventually take over life on earth.

Lena's husband Kane (Oscar Isaac ) is part of an expedition into The Shimmer, and he manages to make it out after a year of being missing in action. Unfortunately he is alone and confused, and his health is rapidly deteriorating.

Determined to save her husband, Lena volunteers to head into the Shimmer with a group of two more scientists and a pair of doctors. What follows is a wild, hallucinogenic trip into a whole new world.

Creative Differences

After a poor test screening, one of the producers at Skydance Media (the studio behind Annihilation) became concerned that the movie was 'too intellectual' for the average moviegoer, and demanded that writer/director Alex Garland change the ending. However, Garland had final cut privileges, and was backed up by another producer at Skydance.

Hidden Sci-Fi Gem Most People Haven't Seen is Streaming on Netflix AND Prime - image 1

The movie was released on Netflix only 17 days after it appeared in theaters, a decision that Garland lamented. While the box office totals for Annihilation barely made back its budget, this may be in part due to the fact that the film was available for home viewing so soon after its release.

Still, in the years since it first came out Annihilation has only grown in reputation, developing a cult following among sci fi fans. It seems likely that this 'too intellectual' movie will be enjoyed for a long time, due in part to the director's determination to stick to his guns.

What The Critics Said

Annihilation carries an excellent 88% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics calling it:

'An exciting, imperfect genre success.' – Observer (UK)

The Rotten Tomatoes critics consensus states: 'Annihilation backs up its sci-fi visual wonders and visceral genre thrills with an impressively ambitious -- and surprisingly strange -- exploration of challenging themes that should leave audiences pondering long after the end credits roll.'

Critics have gone on to say:

'Annihilation is strange in the most complimentary form of that descriptor. It is borderline profound, a singular experience and the kind of escapist fiction that truly liberates audiences from the oppressive weight of mundane reality.' – The Reader

'Garland need make no apologies for Annihilation. It's a bracing brain teaser with the courage of its own ambiguity. You work out the answers in your own head, in your own time, in your own dreams, where the best sci-fi puzzles leave things.' – Rolling Stone


Annihilation is loosely based on the novel by Jeff VanderMeer. The book was the first in a planned trilogy, and though Garland did not have access to the second and third books when he worked on the movie, he later said that there were some striking similarities in the way that the story played out.

After the cast was announced, there was some backlash over the casting. In the book, Lena's character is of Asian descent and one of her colleagues, a psychologist, is half Indigenous. Both characters were cast as white women.

Natalie Portman later explained that she had not read the book when she was cast, and had no idea that her character was originally written to be of Asian descent. The backlash was brief, and faded away quickly – probably because other characters in the novel were adapted to be women of color.

Where Can I Watch It?

Annihilation is available to stream both on Netflix and on Prime.