Don't worry. It's not Independence Day 3
Arrival is a 2016 science fiction dramatic thriller film directed by Dennis Villeneuve, the director of Prisoners and Sicario, and stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker.
Twelve extraterrestrial spacecrafts suddenly land in various locations around the Earth. Nations across the globe spring into a panicked state, and the U.S. military calls upon expert linguist Louise Banks (Adams) to assist in entering one of the spacecrafts and possibly communicating with the alien lifeforms. Banks is assisted by theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Renner). The aliens prove difficult to communicate with, as Banks and her crew try to uncover why the aliens came to Earth.
It's a script that's been done to death. Alien spaceships come down, everyone gets scared, and just when we think we can be friends with them, the aliens start to blow everything up. It's a hackneyed story that we hope not to see again, at least in 2016, after the incoherent imbroglio that was Independence Day: Resurgence. Thankfully, writer Eric Heisserer would laugh at such a script and refuse to make it the basis for Arrival. 'Invasion' is not the right word to use to describe the premise for Arrival, because it really is an alien....arrival, or entrance, or whatever other synonym you can come up with.
- The different take on the "Aliens come to Earth" idea. As just mentioned above, Arrival leans more on the "why" as opposed to the "what". The film more deeply examines psychological motives rather than the end result, which is typically aliens destroying everything with their guns and spaceships. Arrival should be respected for examining aliens as intelligent and curious travelers as opposed to being reduced to little more than sadistic and blood-thirsty human-killers.
- Amy Adams. Adams thrives in her role, effectively combining the emotional turmoil of her character's own life with intellectual curiosity for the aliens. Adams commands the screen and will undoubtedly turn a few heads from the Academy.
- When the mystery behind the aliens is unraveled, the payoff is underwhelming. There is no denying that Arrival is a thinking film, and maybe it is also one of those films that you can't fully analyze and dissect until you've had multiple viewings. Unfortunately, there is not a sense of wonder and curiosity after all is said and done. When you think it all the way through, Arrival leaves us more strictly confused than with what I called "positive confusion" for other thinking films such as Donnie Darko. I felt no desire to explore the film more, because the "why" that the film advertises huffs and puffs but eventually, the house blows down with just a soft poof. Arrival cares more for the "why" as opposed to the "what", and probably the only "what" you'll be thinking about when you watch the credits roll is, "What was the point?"
What Arrival really has going for itself is a fresh and welcome new perspective on the whole humans vs. aliens ordeal, with Amy Adams as the driving force. Sadly, the answers we receive in the end don't satiate our curious desires to the fullest. Nonetheless, fans of thinking films should be pleased. Even the casual viewer might find some enjoyment too.
Here you'll find my reviews on just about any film you may have seen. I try to avoid major spoilers as much as possible. I structure my reviews in the following way: