Arrival, a cerebral science fiction drama, is a remarkable new film especially for anyone interested in science, space, and the nuanced complexities of communication.
When I decided to check this movie out, I didn’t know quite what I was in for. I figured the movie focused on just about everything alien movies nowadays focus on — odd-looking green creatures, a desire to rid the aliens from planet Earth, and violence.
Boy, was I wrong. Arrival is not your typical alien battle story. It’s better.
The film centers on the arrival of ships from another world. They hover over 12 spots around the globe that seem to be random. One of those spots is over an isolated area in Montana, where the government has set up an outpost to try and connect with these beings.
A part of the team exploring the Montana outpost includes a master linguist, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), and a decorated physicist, Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), who are charged with making contact with the visitors. Every 18 hours the ship opens and allows humans in. The team under Louise and Ian tries to establish an understanding of language with the goal of trying to determine why the visitors have come and if they pose a threat.
Countries around the world fear what the aliens came to Earth to do. The world is in panic. Country leaders shut off their communication with the other counties, simply out of their fear of the unknown. Dr. Banks insists that the countries need to communicate and share information to unravel the truth and reason of the invasion.
While the other countries panic and begin to declare a state of war, Dr. Banks and Donnelly remain focused to decode the aliens’ language and ask them the question, “What is your purpose here?”
Unlike most action packed alien invasion flicks, Director Denis Villeneueve (Sicario, Prisoners) provides the audience a thought-provoking story meant to leave you sitting in the theater scratching your head while the credits roll on.
I’m not going to spoil the ending (for that’s the best part), but I will tell you that while it isn’t what you expect, it’s what you need.
Adams does an especially exquisite job in this movie. She keeps her voice low throughout the entirety of the movie, using her quietness and seriousness to draw in the audience’s focus. Her character is rather calm and composed, which relates to her being the only one to truly communicate and understand the plight of the aliens.
Arrival allows Adams to shine. She has been nominated many times for an Oscar Award, but has never won. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her recognized for this film come awards season. She does a beautiful job in a complex role, serving as the entryway to this story that takes you somewhere unexpected.
I’m not the biggest fan of science-fiction movies, nor do I have a passion for outer space and alienated beings. That being said, Arrival is certainly the best science fiction movie I’ve ever seen. Its clever approach to storytelling forces audience members to grapple with their preconceived notions of what the typical “alien” is thought to be like, of what it means to communicate, and ultimately, a reminder that humankind is young, powerful, and still has a lot to learn about understanding one another.
The film hit theaters Nov. 11. Since then, it has grossed $54 million.
The movie is rated PG-13. Be sure to check it out at your local theater!