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