Arrival (2016)

Arrival is a science fiction film, based on the short story “Story of Your Life”, written by Ted Chiang. The story won several awards in 1999 and 2000.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a professor of linguistic studies. She is on her way to teach class when she walks past many students hovering around a TV, where news is coming that aliens have arrived on Earth, and no one knows what to do. They appear in 12 places around the world, and no one knows what to do.

Shortly afterward, she is visited by a Colonel Weber (Forrest Whittaker), who asks for her assistance in communicating with the new visitors. She resists but eventually consents. She is teamed up with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a physicist who’s handling the science of the meetings. Col. Weber implores them to find a way to communicate with the aliens, and is demanding to know what their intentions are.

This movie is a slow potboiler of a film. It plays out in a plodding manner, letting the enormity of the situation sink in to the characters, and the audience, as well. I really can’t talk about the story that much, because it would spoil the experience. There’s the underlying urgency to understand, and it provides the base for the film.

Going back almost 40 years, Close Encounters of the Third Kind attempted to tell the story of encounters with aliens, and it was incredibly stunning, visually, but, to me, was a bit flat. To this day, the 5 notes and those 5 hand gestures never meant anything to me, and they never bothered to reveal what they meantl. That film frustrated me, while it entertained me.

Arrival answered some of those questions, but not all of them. It has a heart that you won’t find that in many science fiction films. This movie was a unique experience, giving me something I haven’t seen 1000 times before.

I strongly recommend Arrival, and I already know that it’s one of my top 10 films of the year.