ARRIVAL [2016]

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Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Written by Eric Heisserer (screenplauy), Ted Chiang (based on the story “Story of Your Life”)

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker


Denis Villeneuve continues to show his skill and virtuosity with another film far removed from his last, and somehow tops that incredible movie with Arrival, which shares some similarities with his film Enemy, in that, you need to think.

If you want to sit back with your popcorn, don’t watch this. This film probes many interesting and important aspects of humanity, such as language, memory, trust… the list could go on. It is quite amazing how a film about an alien visit can reveal so much about people. Arrival challenges the assumed norms of how we relate amongst ourselves, and more importantly, how those relations could be tested by an alien visitor, which most of humanity seems to see as a threat. And to be fair, that is human nature, to be afraid of that which we do not know.

Arrival challenges this notion though, and while doing so it delivers an incredibly thought-provoking story that I need at least two more viewings to piece together.

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The monolithic alien craft is an important character its own – its size dominates many incredible outside takes and represent just how big the humans’ task is – that is, to translate what these aliens are trying to say.

To go further into the story would be just mean, so go into this as blind as you can, with an open mind, and prepare for an experience.

This makes other recent films of the genre (with the exception of Ex Machina) seem downright pathetic and dumb. This is what sci-fi should be like – apart from the ending (arguably), this film does NOT show its hand to the viewer. This is easily one of the best movies to involve aliens too – the contact between humanity and their visitors is infinitely interesting. Credit must go Jóhann Jóhannsson and the sound-editing crew for creating the such a tense atmosphere when needed.

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The way the aliens talk needs to be heard through cinema speakers, as it almost sends chills up your spine. Soon though we become accustomed to it, much like the scientists down on Earth who are trying to decode what these beings want, using all the mathematics, scientific and linguistic skills in the world. The soundtrack is also a fantastic feature – it is never over-bearing, but is incredibly strong when it needs to be, and it all sounds suitably alien.

The film needs to be seen on a big screen. Not only does the alien craft look amazing, but it is also a part of some incredible camerawork. There aren’t enough scenes outdoors to take advantage of this on a large scale, but boy, when we do see the ship, it is a sight to behold. Not only the craft, but the amazing looking clouds surrounding it, indicating just how huge the ship is.

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Amy Adams leads the way as a very convincing protagonist, the linguist who is lured in to somehow decode the messages. Her working partner is a scientist,six beer(1) a surprisingly tolerable Jeremy Renner. The contrast between these professions isn’t explored as much as it could have been, but hey, given the massive themes this film is juggling with only two arms, I think I can let that one slide. Hell, it is worth the price of admission just to see the alien’s ship. It almost has the same impact as the monolith from 2001, with the added advantage of some top-notch CGI.

“The best sci-fi of the decade?”

You’re damned right!!! Watch this film!

Easily worth a full sixer. I’ll be seeing this at least one more time before it is gone from the screens.

6/6

 

42 Comments on “ARRIVAL [2016]

  1. Yessir! Arrival is a beautiful example of sci-fi-cum-aliens craftsmanship. I just love Villeneuve’s ability to make films out of complex and often abstract concepts. But also I think Arrival’s ability to remain understandable and relatable, that it is not SO abstract (i.e. Enemy) that viewers feel put off, makes it the director’s most accessible work to date. Just, an incredible film. I loved it and apparently you did too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah man, I’m with you every way – I’ve liked Villeneuve and his films just keep getting better and better. Using the same guy who did the Sicario score helped a lot too. But yeah, its not toooo abstract, but it isn’t dumbed down either. Loved this one!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw this yesterday and it had such a big impact on me. The intelligence and the ideas in it were superb as well as the visuals. And Amy Adams was luminous in the lead, she is thoroughly convincing as our entry point into the journey. I was thrilled that the film actually took its time to tell the story rather than rushing it, gave it a very good slow burning impact. And here’s my review if you’re interested. https://vinnieh.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/arrival/

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    • Adams was brilliant mate, I’m with you! Good to hear you are revewiving some recent movies man, now I’ll be able to read some of your stuff about movies I’ve actually heard of before 😛 Usually you just make my watchlist longer 😛 😛 I agree, it didn’t rush anything did it? And it didn’t feel overlong or anything either. The pacing was perfect, fuckin everything was perfect man!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I decided to get off my ass and get to the cinema more so I could discuss more newer films with everyone. This movie was masterful in every sense of the word. The deliberate pace pulled you in and slowly revealed a lot of layers. The visuals were beautifully and mysteriously rendered. And Amy Adams provided the deep emotion of the piece with a lovely performance.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Good on ya mate, I can’t go a week without going to the cinemas!

        Amy Adams was indeed fucking great man. You make a good point about the pacing of this also, I hadn’t considered that. “mysteriously rendered” is also a great way to describe those amazing visuals. That alien craft is the most memorable inanimate character since the monolith in 2001 imo.

        I think it is safe to say that the new Blade Runner flick is in safe hands. How it will compare to the original though…. that will be interesting

        Liked by 1 person

      • Why thank you for the praise on my review. I hope Amy Adams gets some awards notice for her role in this, she blew me away.

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      • Yeah she deserves notice for sure. I don’t give two shits about awards, but in regards to getting a deserving actor recognised, well then I appreciate what an award can do. I still think the Oscars are horrible though! 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • She deserves it. I saw this again just now, just as good. Best sci-fi since 2001, I’m convinced. It just says so much.

        Also, the soundtrack is AMAZING! I downloaded it, amazing stuff. The same guy did Sicario, which also has a great soundtrack

        Liked by 1 person

      • Do it if you can, you’ll catch so much more. Its no less amazing to look at for a second time, in fact it was better. My mouth was literally hung open, eyes like O.O

        Liked by 1 person

      • Arrival is just that man, see it again if you can. You can’t beat the cinema experience and this film is infinitely rewatchable. The new Blade Runner is in safe hands

        Liked by 1 person

  3. So looking forward to it but I only have the time to see one movie this month in cinema so I’m opting for Nocturnal Animals. I can’t wait for you to get into Westworld – it’s another thought provoking science fiction 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I finally watched the first episode of Westerworld Margaret…. and much like this movie, I need to see it again! There is so much happening, I barely understood much but I still loved it. Hopefully I can catch up to you so I can follow your posts on it. Ed Harris is so badass!!

      Hmm, its ha hard toss up between Nocturnal and Arrival. Both look great, and I’m seeing the former today. One thing though – this is one of those films that will reeeeally reward your trip to the cinema. I don’t know much about Nocturnal but I doubt the visuals are as amazing as they are here. But hey, that’s just my opinion… that you didn’t ask for 😛

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    • Ahh bummer. I got to watch this with my dad, who loves his sci-fi – he had it all figured out before I did! Its a complex movie but not too complex. Perfect balance I thought. I hope you get to see this Cindy, its quite amazing. Villeneuve (sp?) is getting better and better. I mean, Sicario was amazing, and now this, a TOTALLY different movie, is even better. One of the best around at the moment this guy is

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  4. Great write-up Jordan! I’m really looking forward to seeing this one as there seems to be so much that I’ll enjoy about it. Plus I love your description of Jeremy Renner as “surprisingly tolerable” – perfect!

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    • Hehe, yeah I’m not a fan but he isn’t bad here. And the rest of the acting is so on point, especially Adams.

      But the visuals, the soundwork and soundtrack…. gotta see this at a cinema if you can. Its mindblowing

      Like

  5. Nice review Jordan. I’m really into this new wave of surreal sci-fi, plus you can never go wrong with Amy Adams. I definitely need to catch Arrival soon, especially with last Tuesday’s grim news…

    Liked by 1 person

    • You gotta man. The visuals and the soundwork all round makes this essential viewing at a theatre. Then there is the story, which says so much. I just saw it again and took in even more. I’m convinced its the best sci-fi flick since 2001.

      Oh, and when you say new wave of surreal sci-fi flicks, what ones are you talking about? I guess Predestination was one, that was pretty great (and Aussie too!)

      Yeah, Tuesday (Wednesday arvo for me) was depressing for sure. I knew it was gonna happen man, but…. I don’t think I was prepared for it to actually happen.

      What really bothers me though mate is how they keep on saying how Australia is the US’s closest allie, and at the same time we are seeing how HUGELY our politicians are kissing Trump’s arse, even though they all said he was insane; the guy who lost as PM this year called him ‘barking mad’ haha. Now they are all kissing his arse, its horrible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think movies like Ex Machina and Under the Skin fit well into the genre. Too many sci-fi movies are just brainless shoot-’em-ups that I’m glad to see some filmmakers moving towards more philosophical material.

        That’s absolutely awful. Back in the US there’s already been a rise in hate crimes and Trump’s already choosing some of the most crooked politicians and lobbyists for his administration. While fortunately he’s reneging a lot of his promises, including getting rid of Obamacare and the Muslim ban, the next four years are really going to suck.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahh of course, how could I forget those, I own both! Have you seen Predestination?
        And yeah I’m not a fan of mindless anything, hence my intense distaste for superhero flicks

        Heh, I knew he’d be picking people like that, because he basically destroyed the party and no one respectable wants anything to do with him – even the head of Fox!!! And when he says he isn’t going to do something, there’s a good chance he’ll say the opposite thing soon enough. The guy is legitimately insane, a true sociopath. I have nothing at all against the US but I’m now really feeling crap about being us so buddy-buddy with him. Who the fuck knows which country filled with brown people he’ll lead us into?!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haven’t checked out Predestination but I will soon. And I do loathe the superhero genre as well; when will audiences learn that all those movies are the same.

        As for Trump, he is mixing up with establishment figures; he’s already got RNC Head Reince Preibus as his new chief of staff and both Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are practically kneeling towards him now. I’m terrified that the likes of Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, and Chris Christie are going to receive cabinet positions and in complete disbelief that Sarah Palin and Ben Carson may be high ranking officials as well. Though I haven’t heard anything about Roger Ailes being involved in Trump’s administration, he’s already put Steve Bannon as his senior advisor. Bannon’s behavior is so intolerable that he makes Ailes look like Mother Teresa in comparison. He ran this homophobic, racist, and anti-Semitic site called Breitbart that floated conspiracy theories and vile editorials for years. It’s the worst possible combination of goons.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Christ, its even worse than I thought. God Obama must be thinking ‘what the fuuuuck has happened???’

        Add Predestination to your list mate, its a great mind-bending sci-fi flick. Took me three watches to figure it out completely.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. That is one heck of an endorsement dude and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Both you and Tom have got me ridiculously excited for this film. Something I initially wasn’t, even though I’m a big fan of Villenueve.
    Prisoners, Enemy (which scared the living daylights out of me), Sicario, this and an upcoming Blade Runner sequel! This guy is on one hell of a run.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah dude, this guy is the man. And with the same guy doing the soundtracks for Sicario, Arrival and Blade Runner…. they make for a good pair!

      Like

  7. Pingback: TOP TEN FILMS OF 2016 | epileptic moondancer

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