For the last several years we’ve had this trend of a really compelling ‘not too distant future’ science fiction film being released in the fall/early winter. It started with Gravity and then Interstellar and The Martian and I think that we may have found this year’s film in Arrival. Amy Adams is Dr. Louise Banks, a professor of linguistics who is called in by the military when a dozen alien spacecraft come down to random places on the Earth and hover a few meters off the ground. The aliens have opened a kind of meeting room on their ship and Dr. Banks is to interact with them, attempt to learn their language, and ascertain their intentions. The clock is ticking as not every country is happy about the alien presence and if she can’t learn to speak with them quickly, they might attack the aliens to try to make them leave.
This film kind of popped up on my radar by surprise a little while back with the release of the trailer. Despite its slightly baffling title (To be clear Arrival is in no way connected to the 90’s Charlie Sheen sci-fi film The Arrival) I was oddly intrigued by the premise. Arrival far surpasses what the trailer promises with a brilliant, thoughtful, and smart alternative to big budget sci-fi action films. It is a difficult film to review in any traditional sense as to talk about the plot risks spoiling the many surprises contained inside. This is a true ‘mystery box’ but with very rewarding layers and a truly satisfying resolution. Arrival takes a microcosmic look at a global crisis and Amy Adams gives a tremendous performance. After seeing what director Denis Villeneuve delivered here, I am now intensely curious about what his Blade Runner sequel is going to look like.
Adam Ruhl is a writer and life long Cinephile. He is the Executive
Cinema Editor of Pop Culture Beast’s Austin branch; covering festivals,
conventions, and new releases. When not filing reports, Adam can be
found stalking Alamo Drafthouse Programmers for leads on upcoming
DrafthouseFilms titles. Adam once blocked Harry Knowles entrance to a
theater until he was given extra tickets to a Roman Polanski movie.