Review of 'Arrival'

arrival.jpg Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguistics professor whose class is interrupted by the news that twelve alien egg-like objects have entered the atmosphere and are suspended above the surface of the planet. Banks is approached by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to assist in an effort to communicate with the aliens at their Montana landing site where they are joined by cynical physicist Dr Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). Banks and Donnelly learn that every 18 hours a door opens in the bottom of the alien device allowing them access to the interior where a transparent barrier separates them from the walking octopus-looking visitors. Banks quickly discovers that the aliens can communicate with circular shaped symbols though progress in understanding them is difficult and other countries are more keen on utilising the weapon they have heard the aliens mention…

Though a somewhat slow burner, cerebral, film I really liked it. The story is very good with the puzzle of why the aliens have visited Earth intriguing. The movie does drag in the middle as the mystery of the alien writing is deciphered but it picks up it's pace as it leads to a climax. Without giving anything away, the only thing that I found unbelievable was Banks' unlikely romantic hook-up…unlikely in that throughout the movie there was little, if any, hint of romance between the two characters.

The effects are particularly good with a highlight being the odd gravity the humans encounter as they enter the alien spacecraft. The acting is measured and even with little occasion for much emotion other than awe and wonder at the events that are enfolding around them. Whitaker does a good job as the steely colonel that quickly sees that Banks might just be able to solve the puzzle. Renner is likely familiar to fans of the Avengers movies as “Hawkeye” but here is relegated to little more than a side-kick to Adams' largely emotion-free linguistics expert prone to periodic unsettling visions of her daughter.

I think many will find this movie boring with it's slow pace but it is a modern and intelligent Science Fiction story asking intriguing questions about the nature of communication in one of the most pragmatic and realistic alien films I have seen in years.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2017-03-23

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve

Studio: 21 Laps Entertainment

Year: 2016

Length: 116 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Other reviewed films by Denis Villeneuve: