A stunning achievement from director Alex Garland, this adaptation of Jeff VanderMeer’s science-fiction novel is a rare breed of big studio filmmaking: It’s an impressively cerebral, nearly literary genre entry that keeps things moving without sacrificing its deliberate pace for unnecessary action sequences. The special effects are breathtaking, and the ambient sound that permeates throughout the movie manages to establish an eerie, moody atmosphere that never lets up. Natalie Portman and Jennifer Jason Leigh make for an effective, strong duo, and they’re well-matched by a compelling supporting cast that never lets an opportunity to shine pass them by. This is a thinking person’s science-fiction movie, and it’s a fascinating journey from beginning to end.
Rating: ★★★★ (out of 5)