Based on the Ted Chiang short story “Story Of Your Life”, Arrival tells the story of twelve mysterious alien “Shells” landing across the Earth, with linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leading a team of elite U.S. military investigators to understand why they are here. It is directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) and also stars Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.
My Thoughts On The Characters And Story
The film places emphasis on Adams’ character and how she attempts to understand these extraterrestrial beings. Adams owns the role entirely, she had chemistry with virtually everyone. Her character arc is one of my favourite aspects to the film because it is explored immensely and as each scene progresses, you want to learn more about this woman and the way her mind works. The revelations she makes throughout the film are brought on logically and although there are certain instances where the jargon used would be exclusive to those groups, the film works it in in a way that doesn’t fly past one’s realm of comprehension.
Forest Whitaker’s character works as a somewhat surrogate for the audience by asking the pertinent questions to move the story along and his insistence to move things along in order to appease the higher ups, I thought stayed incredibly true to a person in his position. Jeremy Renner was arguably the weakest part of the film. I really felt no connection to him and his comic reliefness plus the few quips he said here and there made me roll my eyes.
The secondary characters were all serviceable but there was one moment with a couple characters I just couldn’t believe occurred… I don’t wish to get spoilery with this review so I will just say, a major event unfolds that I wish was explored a bit more following it and/or some type of consequence for such a decision made.
The unfolding of events is one of my favourite aspects of the film. Every bit of progress made to communicate with these beings had me on the edge of my seat because I wanted to know what the hell they were trying to say! The final act does feature some quick conclusive moments because it felt like they needed to wrap everything up in a more rushed way than the first two acts were, however I was ultimately intrigued to the very end and forgive that wrap up since the overall picture was immensely enjoyable.
Every moment they were in the Shell dripped of suspense, I could feel my neck tense up during certain instances. This film is best to watch in a theatre because it is an immersive experience. (My Humble Opinion Alert) You really won’t feel the same awe and wonderment of it watching it on your couch on Netflix scrolling through reddit on your phone.
How Were The Other Aspects Of ‘Arrival’?
This movie is one of the most beautiful looking films of the year. Denis Villeneuve is a fucking mastermind behind the camera, as indicated by his entire filmography thus far, Prisoners being my personal favourite. If I had a dollar for every time I thought “wow… That is a gorgeous shot” or “wait, how did he film this?” I’d have like, a lot of money.
The direction by Villeneuve is easily my favourite aspect of the film. There really are no issues with the directing as I found it essentially flawless. It is a slow-burning piece with an emphasis on its characters rather than the bombastic action-alien-killing-spree similar sci-fi films have, and with his direction & the focus on deliberately slow yet intriguing sequences shot really work to grip the audience.
The music is composed by Villeneuve regular Jóhann Jóhannsson, who also composed the aforementioned Prisoners and Sicario plus the upcoming Blade Runner 2049, and the score is incredible in Arrival. It is so atmospheric and the sounds coming off the screen is simply brilliant. Max Richter, the composer for the ridiculously spectacular HBO series The Leftovers, also has a contribution to the soundtrack with “On The Nature Of Daylight“, that man can genuinely do no wrong in my eyes.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous-looking, slow burn of a sci-fi picture, check out Arrival.
Hungry For More Reviews? Check Out The Following:
Arrival receives 4/5 Matt Damon heads.