What is it about? Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve, is about a linguist named Louise Banks (played by Amy Adams), recruited by the government when aliens from another planet arrive at 12 locations around the world. Working alongside her is physicist Ian Donnelly, and the two must figure out why the aliens came to Earth and try to establish a form of communication with them.
How is it? 9.25/10 Arrival is an excellent movie, and one of my favorites of the year. There’s a lot to love about this movie, from its suspenseful direction to its compelling performances. Let’s talk about that first part. Denis Villeneuve manages to create an atmosphere that feels tense. There’s one scene in particular around the beginning of the movie in which Amy Adams and her team go into the spaceship, and you hear her heavy breathing. The audience feels pretty similar. The use of sound and beautiful cinematography here adds to the mood and makes you cling to your seat and sweat with the characters, anticipating the alien’s response to them. Now a lot of sci-fi movies these days are mainly just explosions. This movie does something else: it has you wait and creates more excitement through making you wait in silence behind a glass wall, rather than having said glass wall explode. The score that I previously mentioned is also great, and it adds to the mystery and tension of the movie.
The characters Amy Adams delivers an Oscar-worthy performance in this movie, and above all, this movie is about her. Her character is exceptionally well-developed and progresses in many different ways throughout the film. Jeremy Renner is also pretty good in his role of a physicist in this situation, and his character has some cool moments with Amy Adams. Forest Whitaker, also, delivers a good performance as Colonel Weber, who recruits Banks and Donnelly, and his character has great scenes trying to compromise between peaceful Banks and the aggressive government.
The plot Arrival has an extremely smart, clever, and even emotional plot. This plot does a great job of incorporating suspense, making this the sci-fi thriller it is. There is a huge twist in this movie that slowly unravels and you start to realize it more and more until it says it up front, although I can’t elaborate without going into spoilers. It plays with your mind and makes you truly believe something until it establishes the exact opposite. One slight downfall, however, is that the movie is a bit tough to follow. That plot twist hit me a little late, and you really need to be paying attention during the movie. Another great thing about it is that it’s actually really emotional, which you don’t see from a typical sci-fi movie. It explores some meaningful themes and balances them with this emotion. The movie also always stays compelling, and you always want to know what’s going to happen next, although many think the movie seems slow. While it may seem slow because the movie first introduces Adams, and shows the whole process in how her team communicates with the aliens, in terms of its story, it never wastes time, and establishes something new every shot. However, you shouldn’t go into it expecting a CGI-fest, explosions-laden, action thriller. Rather, this is a thoughtful sci-fi drama about its characters.
The visuals Arrival, visually, looks spectacular. Whether it’s beautiful shots of the outside and inside of the alien ship or just some really good-looking scenery that definitely benefits the movie, it always has amazing visuals. It also has some great cinematography, and is shot very well.
In conclusion, Arrival is a fantastic movie, with great performances and an extremely clever and thoughtful story, making it one of 2016’s best.