Tony's Take

ARRIVAL review

arrival-poster-a-chegadaWhy Are They Here?

Ever wonder how we would react to an unidentified object-landing?  Dr. Louise Banks is a college professor of Linguistics, one of the best in the country.   In the latest film from Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners), “Arrival”, strange, spherical objects called Heptapods have appeared on Earth in 12 different locations around the World.  The US is in disarray, with rioting, looting, and martial law in-effect.  Having helped her country before, Dr. Banks is called-on by Col. Weber, a senior military officer, to help with decoding the alien language and decipher whether they are here to help us or hurt us.  Inside the Heptapod, the rules of gravity don’t exist and they come face-to-face with the aliens that have come to Earth.  With the help of theoretical mathematician Ian Donnelly, they are tasked with not only translating their alien language, but doing-so with no time to spare.  As Louise and Ian slowly begin to make progress, we are introduced to her past; and how she must use the bulk of her knowledge to complete her mission.  As various governments begin to go-offline, Louise must put-aside logic and use any means necessary to understand the alien language; with the fate of the human race lying in her hands.

Amy Adams stars as Dr. Louise Banks, the linguistics professor with a troubled past who is called-on by the US military to help.  Adams uses this role to show-off her range, portraying a wide-array of emotions throughout.  Jeremy Renner plays her mission partner Ian Donnelly, a mathematician.  Renner shares a strong chemistry with Adams, mostly offering comedic relief in times of stress.  Forest Whitaker plays Col. Weber, the senior military officer in-charge of the landing site in Montana.  Michael Stuhlbarg plays a CIA Agent stationed at the Montana landing site, Agent Halpern.  Tzi Ma plays General Chang of China.  Mark O’Brien plays Captain Marks, another solider at the Montana landing site.

“Arrival” uses science fiction and suspense coupled with a very human story, in a way that only Villeneuve can craft; and the result is poetically-entertaining and thought-provoking.  “Arrival” works on so many different levels, one of which is its refusal to play by the rules.  The film does an excellent job of progressing through the story without explaining every element.  Another strong aspect of the film is Amy Adams.  She is far-and-away the focal point of the film, showcasing a multitude of emotions and feelings; and she absolutely nails it.  Renner, Whitaker, and, at-times, Stuhlbarg, also get the chance to steal a few scenes but not nearly as often as Adams.  “Arrival” was showcased as a straightforward sci-fi film, but it is anything but.  The promotional materials are vague and open, leading the best mysteries of the film to be saved for the viewing.  In a time where trailers spoils nearly everything, this was a refreshing choice and one that better serves the viewing process.  “Arrival”, while dealing primarily in science fiction, also serves as a love letter to the art of language; with plenty of terminology and mechanics at the forefront.  As for the aliens, I will save their appearance for the theaters, but they certainly are beautiful in their own, unique way.  Jóhann Jóhannsson adds another layer to the film with his loud and experimental score, one that will certainly catch your attention.  “Arrival” is sure to launch many conversations and arguments over its story, but its refreshing take on how we would react to an alien landing is something that will certainly be remembered.  “Arrival” has a run time of 116 minutes and its only fault is how it occasionally drags in the middle of the film as Louise’s past is slowly divulged.  “Arrival” is the type of film-making that should be celebrated and discussed, expertly-creating endless questions for the audience to discuss.

“Arrival” showcases how the human race would react to aliens landing across the globe and how we would attempt to interact with them.  The film features elements of science fiction, the mechanics of language, and a very thought-provoking story.  If you are going to the movies this weekend, go see “Arrival”!!   

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ARRIVAL is rated PG-13 for brief strong language, in theaters NOVEMBER 11TH!

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