A Review of the Movie Arrival (2016)
I used to think, “Arrival” would be boring, then I watched it, and it turns out- I was right. But it was also a somewhat good movie.
“Arrival” starts with some sad music and a voiceover of Louis Banks (Amy Adams). She’s sad, and it appears she is sad because of the loss of her child. Losing the child is continually shown in the film through a series of “flashbacks.” Then some long egg-shaped rock looking spaceships appear positioning themselves at various parts of the world. The US government contacts Louis Banks a linguist to help communicate with the aliens and find out what they want and why are they here? Joining her is science guy Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and serious soldier guy Forest Whitaker (Colonel Weber).
The movie is considered ‘smart science fiction.’ Where instead of action scenes, guns shooting, and dialog full of one-liners, “Arrival” is a slow-paced film that still has a lot of the same movie tropes of sci-fi, such as the Chinese and Russians being the bad guys. And, trigger-happy soldiers making stupid decisions and fire the first shot, or with this film the first bomb. Forcing our heroes to do their best to de-escalate the situation and communicate with the aliens who have shown nothing but peaceful intentions.
There appears to be some reasonably decent thought by the filmmakers regarding dealing with a first contact alien encounter. For example, they use hazmat suits to avoid airborne viruses and possible contaminations. On the flip side when it comes to how a giant alien space egg hovers just above the ground, well, that is left for the audience to put to unknown space alien technology.
Amy Adams does a respectable job in her performance in the film. She uses a soft voice speaking with reason and expressions to carry the film. Her character is believable in appearance, tone, and her overall performance. Jeremy Renner as covers up his arm muscles for this film to attempt playing the smart guy which he does well. And Forest Whitaker is Forest Whitaker.
Overall, it is an okay film. The pacing and cinematography is reminiscent of “Interstellar” and “Contact” to where it looks dramatic but you spend most of the film waiting for something to happen. It’s nice to see a alien encounter film from Hollywood that isn’t quick cuts and action. But it would have been nice to have a little more worth watching in this film beyond the slight twist of an ending.
- Director: Denis Villeneuve
- Writers: Eric Heisserer and Ted Chiang
- Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
- Rated: PG13
- Running Time: 2hrs
- Production Budget: $47,000,000 est.
Review by Milo Denison, the author of “How to Manage Your Manager” available now.