Arrival is the most visually stunning film that I have seen in awhile. I cannot express enough how good this movie looks on the big screen and how well every single shot is framed. Scripted by Eric Heisserer and directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners), Arrival comes from Ted Chiang’s award-winning short story “Story of Your Life”.
Amy Adams (American Hustle, Big Eyes, Enchanted) portrays Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics expert and professor with a past that seems to haunt her. When 12 mysterious pods land around the world she is enlisted in the mission to find out why the aliens have come to Earth.
This story honestly blew me away and exceeded the fairly average expectations I had going into the theater. Best of all, Arrival is not your typical alien-invasion movie and the plot is much more layered and nuanced than any of the trailers suggested. This is a thought-provoking script that really stays with you long after you have walked out of the theater.
Adams delivers a strong and compelling performance in this film. I admire how her character was a smart and competent woman who faced her fears and showed bravery beyond what she even knew she possessed. What won me over the most was the subtlety with which Adams portrays Louise. Nothing is over the top or theatrical-even during the film’s biggest “Aha” moments. This is a well grounded story and the characters offer realistic responses to everything they are faced with.
As the movie unfolds there are several instances where you question how well you have actually paid attention. The unexpected twists work incredibly well because you do not see them coming until late in the film. In that regard, I couldn’t help but think of films like Signs (2002) and even Interstellar (2014). They share similarities in terms of plot, character development and the overall feeling you have walking away after viewing them.
Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, The Town, Avengers: Age of Ultron) portrays theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly who works alongside Louise in order to decipher the aliens’ language. I won’t say that this is a standout performance for him, but he does a solid job as Louise’s partner in crime. Academy award-winner Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, The Butler, Bird) stars as the gruff no-nonsense Colonel Weber, who tasks Louise and Ian with finding out if the alien visitors are intent on harming Earth. His character is necessary as he continually challenges Louise and Ian and pressures them to find answers.
Arrival clocks in at just under 2 hours and it definitely feels that long, however, the third act more than makes up for the anxiety and suspense you feel throughout the first half of the movie.
I really don’t want to say too much more about this one-just get out and see it as soon as possible. If you’re a Sci-Fi lover who can appreciate breathtaking visuals and an interesting story you won’t be disappointed.
Special thanks to Keith at Keith & the Movies for encouraging me to check it out!
Arrival also stars Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma. It is currently in theaters.