The latest in a long tradition of alien first contact films, Arrival is based on an award winning short story published in 1998.
When twelve extraterrestrial pods suddenly appear across the globe, Earth’s population is put into a frenzy. The question on everyone’s mind is, of course, “what do they want?” Nations across the planet work furiously to find a way to ask that question directly to the visitors. In the US, that task falls to the team of Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a brilliant linguist, and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a mathematician. The more they learn, the higher the stakes become, and a global showdown seems inevitable.
To say anything more about the plot would be a disservice to you. Even to bring up some certain films I would like to compare it to would give too much away. It’s not that the film relies on a twist ending as the payoff – it’s just so much better if you don’t know what’s happening before it takes place.
Most of the film is actually rather innocuous, a slow but steady story that gives far more focus on the complicated process of deciphering an entirely alien language than any other film that comes to mind. What could be an exercise in tedium, however, is portrayed in a riveting real life manner as discoveries unfold and mysteries peak around the edges of the story.
If you know where to look, you might hazard a guess at where things will end, but Arrival truly goes in a direction you’re likely not going to decipher before our heroes do.
A character-centric film, this is no Independence Day. There are moments of tense drama and action, but at the core is a unique blend of humanity, emotion, scientific theory, ethereal pondering, and beautifully conceived otherworldly visuals.
Arrival will pull at your emotions from corners you weren’t award of prior, and give your brain a workout in the process. As emotional as it is intriguing, and as perplexing as it is inspiring, it is a philosophical debate wrapped in a nearly flawless tale of science, fiction, and tenderness.
Things that The Tree of Life so painfully and heavy handedly tried to accomplish, Arrival does effortlessly and understandably. The story and characters are relatable and enjoyable and you will be pressed to find holes in the plot beyond what will simply inspire further discussion and actually enhance the story rather than detract from it, and perhaps warrant a second watch.
Nearly flawless, this is an intelligent drama disguised as a spectacle-filled blockbuster, and it will appeal to both crowds.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“The most thrilling movie and without any action scenes. I already want to watch it again.”
Brother Hamster did not screen this film
My rating: Five out of five hats
Arrival touches down in 2,317 theaters, November 11