Friday, November 11, 2016

Arrival - Review


Director Denis Villeneuve who has had a great run of success lately with films such as Incendies, Prisoner and Sicario, and who in August 2017 will also be releasing the sequel to the 1982 cult science fiction classic “Blade Runner” titled “Blade Runner 2049”, is now offering up one of my personal favorite film genres in the form of science fiction with the new dramatic story simply called “Arrival”.

Running 2 hours and set in current time the film “Arrival” starts out immediately with the sudden mysterious arrival of 12 spacecraft all touching down (more like hovering) across the globe. Headed by the elite expert linguist Professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams), she also is brought in to work together with renowned mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) who collectively investigate why the “aliens” are here.

As time goes by without any overt threats from the 12 spacecraft mankind nonetheless anxiety levels are percolating hotter and hotter with the innate fear of the unknown about the beings and as a result humanity becomes more convinced with the passage of time that humans may actually be teetering on the verge of a global war. Professor Banks and the team race against time to find answers and above all to fully understand them with sometimes coming to risky assumptions which could be taking a dangerous chance with their own lives as well all of humanity too.

“Arrival” is less science fiction and more basic premortal human drama; that being to always first feel fear to what we don’t know and or don’t understand.  And with that as its core focus Director Villeneuve delivers for the first 1:30 minutes some real authentic tension as you observe meaningful intellectual dissection of a problem at work with the desire of trying to solve a huge problem which is “what is the purpose of the visitors to our planet”.  

What Arrival does brilliantly in my opinion is tell this basic story with the appropriate degree of “spookiness” which you would expect from an earth invasion film with an equal more prescient and perceptive challenge of telling that same story by talking about this mysterious alien invasion in a way that forces the viewer to always keep up without ever “dumbing it down”.

If you want to see what a smart and introspective sci-fi film would wonder about as in how a first human contact with an alien species might look like, this quiet but forceful film offers up a solid tale of what could be possible.

Amy Adams felt star quality real every moment on the screen as she made me and you as well feel the power of human intellect and human learning as the first basic tool of our essence, which inevitable leads to the next step in the evolution process which is to be able to communicate including on those occasions with a stranger with a different language. I hope she gets an Oscar nomination, but I always do with her.

“Arrival is not great, but it is damn solid and while the last 25 minutes of the film does levels off a bit by moving to a more conventional safe conclusion and message, I nevertheless was still highly impressed with this film being one of the smarter efforts of 2016. But what was buried in the overall purpose, direction and focus of this films plot was in fact not so much an attempt to reveal some evil intentions on the alien’s arrivals to earth as some mysterious outsiders. No, it was slightly more surreptitiously implied but evident nonetheless through the films “Q & A’ process which is when people ask smart questions and conclude smart answers that process itself is in fact an internal examination of our own minds and thoughts as well. Particularly so in all those many times we have asked from our own birth to adult hood both solemnly to ourselves and directly to others the basic simple question “why”? And by asking “why” and asking questions in general by doing so we get that much closer to a more intricate and more thorough exploration of our own human selves and our human purpose on this earth.  Don’t you agree?

4 Stars

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