So the weekend is almost upon us. If you are planning a trip to the cinema on your time off, you should definitely check out Arrival, the new Sci-Fi epic starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker, and directed by Denis Villeneuve. Here’s the trailer:
And I have to say, the trailer doesn’t even do it justice. This week in college, we were putting together half hour radio chat shows, and I was in charge of the review section, so I chose to go and see this. And I’m so glad I did.
In it, 12 alien spacecraft, nick named ‘shells’, arrive at seemingly random points around the world. One such ship has landed in Montana in the US. Amy Adams plays gifted linguist Louise Banks, who is brought in as part of a team also consisting of theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner, in an effort to communicate with the aliens. Under the guidance of US Army Colonel Weber, played by Forest Whitaker, they must determine why the aliens have arrived on earth and whether they are friend or foe.
You might be thinking, so far so alien invasion movie. But you would be wrong. Arrival is so much better than your average alien invasion movie, because it is so much smarter than what is usually on offer. In most cases in the past, the aliens arrive and just start attacking the planet and then the world must fight for survival. But here, the aliens essentially park up their ships and play the waiting game. Every 18 hours, they open their doors to allow the team in to observe and try to communicate with them.
What makes the film so interesting is the fact that the aliens only communicate via symbols, as opposed to an actual language. It is up to Louise and Ian to combine their skills to try to determine what each of the symbols mean, and it is fascinating to watch. I almost felt like applying for a degree in linguistics after watching this. Ya know, just incase the aliens do arrive at some point; I’d be prepared.
All performances are strong here, but the standout is Amy Adams. It’s not surprising really. Whenever you see her name attached to something, you just get the instant feeling that it will be good. Between this and Nocturnal Animals (also on my to see list), she is practically claiming the November box office for herself. She is such a talented actress, and her performance as Louise Banks almost makes you feel like you’re watching an actual linguistic professor with years of experience behind her. She has been nominated for 5 Oscars in the past, and the buzz being generated by this film seems to be pointing to at least another nomination for her, if not a win. Finally!
And I can’t forget to mention the direction of French man Denis Villeneuve. He has delivered us such incredible offers over the last number of years in the form of Prisoners and Sicario, and Arrival just continues that run of quality. He is currently directing the highly anticipated Blade Runner sequel, and I for one cannot wait to see what he delivers because if it is anything like the three films listed above, we are in for a treat.
I don’t want to give too much away, as there is a massive twist you won’t see coming, but it is so satisfying when it arrives. I’d only have one small criticism. In the beginning, we aren’t shown a direct shot of the spacecrafts or the aliens themselves, much in the same style as Cloverfield. It really works to heighten the anticipation for their big reveal, and actually makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Because as we know, the thing you can’t see is often far scarier than the thing you can.
Unfortunately, again much like Cloverfield, once the aliens are revealed it is kind of underwhelming. They are not as frightening as you would imagine when you couldn’t see them, and are a kind of generic representation of aliens on film. But, believe me, it is a tiny criticism, and it won’t affect your enjoyment at all.
Arrival is a must see, so get yourself to your nearest cinema.
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Runtime: 1hr 45m