Arrival may be comprised of many alien movie cliches, but it itself was not your average creature feature. It’s not for someone who’s looking for a modern-day War of the Worlds or the next Independence Day. It is emotional and, at times, visceral. I was not prepared for the number of times I would shed a tear or two (or many more) during this 116 minute long Denis Villeneuve film. I hesitate to compare films, but I feel strongly that 2014’s Interstellar surpassed Arrival by quite a bit. Having said that, it is it’s own film and I was truly impressed.
We open to Amy Adams, a linguist and a professor, reminiscing on her life and her understanding of the linearity (or lack thereof) of time. We learn that she has lost her daughter to a rare form of (probably) cancer at a pretty young age. We’re quickly whisked away into a new world where Amy Adams’ character is suddenly part of a high-level team trying to crack an alien language being spoken by aliens who have landed in vessels parked in 12 locations around the world. We learn pretty early on that she’s very good at her job and that she has previously translated things for the government. Arrival also stars Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker, which was kind of a letdown for me. I find that Forest Whitaker only ever plays… well… Forest Whitaker. Forest Whitaker is playing Forest Whitaker AS lieutenant Jon Kavanaugh (The Shield), Forest Whitaker AS Major Collins (Bodysnatchers), Forest Whitaker AS Colonel Weber (Arrival)… he only has one character and that tends to take me right out of any role he plays. And that… is pretty much my only complaint about the cast or the acting. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner were fantastic – phenomenal even.
There were a few plot points that kind of didn’t gel with me… I don’t want to speak them aloud because that would spoil the film, but they’re pretty big, gaping holes, so from that point of view, I was kind of like, meh. But the film was beautiful. I felt empathy for the aliens, even, which you can’t expect out of most alien films which demonize the visitors.
All in all, this is a film I will probably buy on Bluray and watch when I’m feeling like something cerebral and touchy-feely… I really enjoyed it and think it’s definitely worth a watch or two!