Arrival (2016) ★★★★☆

An ambitious arrival to the genre.
Image result for arrival 2016

Expert Linguist in her field, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is recruited by the government to communicate with a recently landed ship of aliens. With her linguistic skills, she must piece together whether the aliens have dangerous intentions and serve as a threat, or if they truly come in peace.

From the director of Sicario and Prisoners, Denis Villeneuve returns fighting for a ‘Best Picture’ nomination with his latest effort, Arrival. Like Alex Garland, whose Ex Machina is an obvious extravaganza, Villeneuve understands the power of the shot. Composed by Johan Johannson, the haunting score intricately frames this detail presented within each frame. The notion presented here veers away from the ‘norm’, deferring from the all too familiar concept of destruction, but stresses on the importance humanity instead.

For all their discovery on the unknown species, the constant in both stories is neither time, space, nor love, but endings and beginnings. Arrival doesn’t centre on the creatures or Ian, but Louise (Amy Adams), a torn young woman, for who there’s more than meets the eye. Adams gives a refreshing performance which differs from her wonderfully weird antics in previous motion pictures. She is accompanied by Jeremy Renner, whose performance surprisingly wasn’t as dull as dishwater. His role as scientist, Ian Donnelly, contrasts delightfully with that of Louise, the logical linguist. It does undoubtedly suffer from a few too many conventional sci-fi elements, and a screenplay which doesn’t quite soar the heights of its stunning visual aesthetic. To many, the jargon in sci-fi fims can be a little overwhelming. Here, this does not obstruct the storytelling, and doesn’t suffer from any such issues.

Aside from the fact the spaceship design looks awfully similar to an overgrown avocado, Arrival executes its narrative on an exceptionally serious level. Challenging the notion of being afraid of the “unknown”, this contemporary piece of science fiction effectively grows on an intellectual level, but stumbles when trying too hard to land into our emotions. First-rate performances and exquisite production design will ensure you stay for this spectacle.

 

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4 thoughts on “Arrival (2016) ★★★★☆

  1. Well said, Georgina! I loved this film for so many reasons, but one of my favorite things about it was that it focused more on uplifting themes rather than world destruction. Great review, and best of luck with your classes!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the comparison of the alien ship to an overgrown avocado. It fits completely and I may not be able to shake that when I watch this again.

    Arrival definitely deserves a nomination for best picture but based on what I’ve seen so far, La La Land is hands down my choice for the big prize (still have to see Moonlight, Manchester by the Sea and Fences though). Still, I think it says a lot about this movie that we saw La La Land the day before Arrival at TIFF and this one made almost as big an impression on me.

    Liked by 1 person

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