Wednesday, January 25, 2017



From IMDB:

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team - led by expert linguist Louise Banks - is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers - and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Arrival (2016) on IMDb

Reviews 699 user | 511 critic

From Rotten Tomatoes:

When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team--lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams)--are brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers--and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Rating: PG-13 (for brief strong language)
Directed By: Denis Villeneuve
Written By: Eric Heisserer
In Theatres: Nov 11, 2016, Wide
Box Office: $95,664,632.00
Runtime: 116 minutes

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 301
Fresh: 283
Rotten: 18
Critics Consensus: Arrival delivers a must-see experience for fans of thinking person's sci-fi that anchors its heady themes with genuinely affecting emotion and a terrific performance from Amy Adams.
AUDIENCE SCORE 83% liked it
Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 61,643

What goes through your mind when giant seed pods begin landing all over the earth? ©Paramount Pictures

I've heard quite a few people reference 1997's Contact when they talk about this movie...

Okay, so I saw Arrival this past weekend a half hour after I watched The Great Wall, The Great Wall was a big-budget summer blockbuster action movie sort that you watch without using your brain. Lots of nice shots, cool action scenes and little substance to the story to confuse you. Arrival, on the other hand, is on the other side of the movie spectrum.

Arrival, based on a short story called "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang, which was then turned into working script by the director Denis Villeneuve is a thoughtful and thought-provoking film, and in that way, it is similar to 1997's Contact. The only other way that Arrival is similar to Contact is that throughout the movie you follow a female scientist. That's it. In Contact, which was directed by Robert Zemeckis and based on a story by Carl Sagan and Ann DruyanEleanor Arroway (Jodie Foster) is an astronomer very much involved with the search for alien intelligence, she wants to meet an alien. In Arrival, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) isn't. She's invited to lead the team tasked with establishing contact with the aliens but the experience at first terrifies her.

What do you do when someone tells you that you need to talk to aliens? And fast. ©Paramount Pictures

Contact takes us through the experience of a first extra-terrestrial contact through the eyes of Eleanor Arroway as she battles the sceptics who try to dismiss her and her findings and then decide to not pick her for the first mission after they've completed the machine that she helped piece together, albeit with the help of a suspicious billionaire named S.R. Hadden (John Hurt). The movie deals with that first contact from several viewpoints, from Arroway's point of view whose enthusiasm after finding a possible alien civilisation and of the possibility of meeting them blinds her to the potential dangers it might present, from the government's point of view which of course is suspicious and wary of it and from the point of view of the public where some are willing to embrace it and some in outright fear of it. 

And that you have to do it dressed like a spaceman in a huge condom? ©Paramount Pictures

Arrival too tries to deal with some of the things that were put forth in Contact, how nations and governments around the world try to deal with the possibility of first-contact and in this case of the aliens literally dropping in, of how the public might deal with but it differs greatly with how our protagonists deals with it. Both movies show us a personal side of the main protagonist that colour how they deal with the situation they find themselves in but it comes at it from different ends. Where Contact feels a little melodramatic and sappy when Arroway finally gets to "meet" the aliens, what Banks discover's is entirely personal and somewhat bittersweet, yes there is more to what she discovers but best you watch it yourself, if you haven't yet that is. 

When you came to the party overdressed and the only way you can chat someone up is to dress casually. ©Paramount Pictures

Anyway, on to the likes.

  • The story. Brilliant. As you watch it and you go through what's happening guided by Banks you're also given glimpses of what appears to be Banks memories but by the end, you realise that that's not what you were seeing at all. That revelation makes you think again about what all that she's gone through. 
  • The cast. Amy Adams is amazing. Jeremy Renner provides a nice balance and counterpoint to Adam's character. Forest Whitaker is entertaining as Colonel Weber, I like that he isn't the overbearing military character but someone trying to find balance not only in the situation but also in how he deals with everyone. Enjoyed Michael Stuhlbarg's Agent Halpern too. Every main character in this film is level-headed and rational and it doesn't hurt the drama or storytelling at all. Most movies would require at least one character to be the one that pushes the others to provide drama and conflict but here there isn't one unless you count General Shang (Tzi Ma) but when you find out why he does it it doesn't appear to be an exaggerated response.
  • The visuals. Beautifully shot. Every scene just lovely.
  • The soundtrack. Amazing music. Amazing soundtrack.
  • The science. Fascinating. 

What do you do when the hosts turns out to be gigantic pods with seven legs and have no faces? ©Paramount Pictures

I've seen Denis Villeneuve's Sicario (2015) that was a tense and gripping film from start to finish. An emotional ride as you follow Emily Blunt's character and her discovery of what is really going on. Arrival is just the same but more so. Because of it's subject matter you ask yourself even more questions, questions about not only what that first extra-terrestrial contact would be like but how we would deal with it, we question about what we understand as a language and we question would we do the same if we were given that same gift the Heptapods gave her after she truly understood their language, the gift that saved the world. 

I loved Arrival and am probably going to watch it again sometime in the future. I'm giving Arrival a 4.5 out of 5. It's just too good to pass up.

Here's the trailer if you haven't already seen it. 


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