Arrival Review

Arrival is a 2016 science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve, starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.  Based on the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang and picks up when mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team – lead by expert linguist Louise Banks – is brought together to investigate.


Positives:

  • Fantastic cast
  • Terrific performances
  • Terrific soundtrack
  • Great visuals
  • Great directing
  • Great script
  • Terrific story

Negatives:

  • n/a

Plot: The plot follows a Linguistics expert Louise Banks, who is called in to investigate after twelve spacecrafts touch down across the globe. An elite team – lead by Louise – try to decode the alien’s language. As the world verges on global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers.   The story is pretty interesting and although goes at a slow pace does tell a pretty engaging story. That is a terrific editing that does make for an interesting story that although it does come off a bit confusing at times does help to illustrate the really good twist at the end. (4 out of 5)

Characters: The characters are pretty cool.  Louise Banks(Adams) is a linguist expert and the main protagonist of the movie.  She’s likeable, she’s strong and she shows a lot of intelligence. While dealing with the aliens she’s dealing with memories of her daughters premature death. Ian Donnelly (Renner) is a likable guy too and the two characters have pretty good chemistry with one another. Louise and Ian do have a romantic relationship and it is warranted.  Colonel Weber (Whitaker) is actually a likable guy even though he is the straight military type. Thumbs up to the supporting characters Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg), Captain Marks (Mark O’Brien), and General Shang (Tzi Ma).  (5 out of 5)

Cast: The cast all do a fantastic job and this movie. Amy Adams (Louise) just gives a terrific performance as the lead. She just shows so much depth and emotion and does a great job humanizing the cast.  Jeremy Renner (Ian) is really good and it is good to see him at a more relaxing slow pace roll compared to that of Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Brandt in Mission: Impossible series. Great chemistry between these two onscreen.  The supporting cast includes Forest Whitaker (Weber), Tzi Ma (Shang), Mark O’Brien (Marks), and Michael Stuhlbarg (Halpern). (5 out of 5)

Visuals: The visuals are actually pretty good. The alien designs do look pretty cool. It is a warm welcome compared to the more humanoid mainstream to monstrous ones such as Independence Day: Resurgence. The ship designs are neat and the use of practical effects mixed with the special are pretty sweet.  There is great cinematography and the movie just looks good.  Even the moments where Louise and Ian are talking with aliens, there is a vibrant glow that looks magical. (4 out of 5)

Score: The score is fantastic and does a great job of just embedding a great emotional response. The composer, Johann Johannsson, definitely deserves an award because he does a fantastic job. Definite two thumbs up. (5 out of 5)

Writing: The script is actually really good and the director, Denis Villeneuve, does manage to keep this moving at a really good pace while keeping it suspenseful.  Another aspect of the film that is done well is the editing.  Lousie’s “memories” of her relationship with her daughter does feel like memories and when the end of the movie reveals that she is actually seeing the future. (5 out of 5)


The Verdict: In the end, Arrival is not only a great alien film, it is a great movie all together. It might not be the best alien movie but it’s just a great take on the alien film genre and a refreshing new look. The film does feature awesome performances by Adams and Renner, great characters, great directing, great visuals, great story, great score, and a great script. Arrival gets 5 out of 5.

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