This is a film that I contemplated not seeing. Which would have been unfortunate, because I found Arrival to be both thought provoking and just plain awesome.
Arrival stars Amy Adams as Louise Banks, a linguistics professor hired by the US government to learn to communicate with alien visitors. These aliens landed at various points around the world, and it has everyone guessing as to why they are here? With the help of physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise must communicate with the aliens and prevent an all-out nuclear conflict involving many nations of the world. Arrival is full of interesting tidbits on linguistics and communication, as we the audience discover the true intentions of the aliens.
I would first like to point out the designs of the aliens. Often extraterrestrials in movies are bland and boring, but these were very different from what I am used to seeing. They looked like big octopuses and communicated by spraying ink into the air they occupied. The design of the spaceship pod is very cool too, probably one of the most unique designs in the film. I loved viewing the process the researchers had to go through to enter the spaceship, including their change in gravity as they ascend into its core. Very cool stuff.
Arrival is the kind of film that makes you think differently about our perception of time. It twists our usual longitudinal way of viewing a three act story, especially in the film’s final act. It is difficult for me to describe Arrival’s chronology without giving anything away, but it is all done in a very clever and thought provoking way. I enjoyed critically thinking about the more complicated aspects of Arrival after viewing it. Similar to when I watched films like Inception or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
The acting in Arrival is beyond great, and from looking at the cast it is easy to see why. Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker all give convincing performances in their respective roles. I particularly liked Forest Whitaker as the military general that continues to probe Adams and Renner for additional knowledge on the aliens. His character has this aggressive sense of needing to know what the intent is of the aliens to help keep the U.S. under control. Adams and Renner work great together as they slowly and methodically study the aliens.
The musical score in Arrival is mostly minimalistic, but very effective. The music becomes very loud and vehement in multiple scenes to emphasize the more grand and extravagant scene. The moments I remember the music most were when we were first introduced to the alien spaceship, as well as when we first see the aliens. Anyone who enjoys mostly subtle musical scores will be sure to like this.
The end of the film left me amazed with just how many ideas they tackled. Our perception of time, the future, life choices, and many others. I left the theater wanting to know more than I was given, which is a feeling I wish more films gave.
As a big science fiction fan, I really loved watching Arrival for its sci-fi feel. The film plays out just as I would imagine it if aliens made first contact with us. Lines are being drawn in the sand. There is twenty four seven media coverage of the event, with radical politicians and commentators coming up with radical ideas. Some people want to kill the aliens because they might be here to initiate war. Others want to work together and understand them. It all ties together very well.
I recommend Arrival to anyone who likes a thoughtful, well made film. I myself wouldn’t mind getting to view it a second time just to solidify everything that I experienced on screen. The effects are great, acting is phenomenal, and the story is very thought provoking.