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April 28, 2017

Arrival (2016) --- "Apparently Talking To Extraterrestrials Is Not As Easy As It Seems. And There's A New Concept About Time."

Plot Summary
 When 12 mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team - led by expert linguist Louise Banks - is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers - and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.(1) 


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Hello, Movie Buffs! 
     Alien invasion films have, quite frankly, been overdone. However, Arrival's script – written by Eric Heisserer and adapted from Ted Chiang's short story "Story of Your Life" – is an ingenious piece of work that takes “alien invasion films” to a whole new level. If you were expecting another Independence Day type action movie then you will be sadly disappointed. Arrival focuses on the struggle to communicate with the creatures, ‘Heptapods’, and what the aftermath of this could lead to should it not go to plan; a massive war depicting the bloodshed and trauma or an alien invasion, like Independence Day. Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners) has created a masterful aesthetic in every way Rather than portraying a darker and twisted look at humanity, like in Sicario and Prisoners, he instead chooses to go for a much lighter but still serious tone involving the mystery that surrounds the aliens. The film's soundtrack, created by the terrific Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario, The Theory of Everything), is an inspiring collection of thumping horn arrangements and softer pieces. The cinematography by Bradford Young (Selma, A Most Violent Year) is breathtaking and brings in references and odes to other sci-fi classics - like 2001: A Space Oddysey - with successfully acting as the perfect match to the tone of each sequence.
     Amy Adams carries much of the film on her shoulders and she does so without breaking a sweat, giving a subdued but deeply moving performance.  Adams tells Louise's story in her softest moments and through her body language, both compiling into an astoundingly delicate performance. Louise is a character rarely seen in movies today. She is a woman that uses her knowledge and skills to change the world in ways never done before, and it all comes down to languages. Jeremy Renner’s character Ian is a solid companion, and while Renner accompanies Adams nicely he can't help but be greatly surpassed by her astounding performance.
     Beyond all of this outstanding work, the one perfection of Arrival is the emotion and the power behind the story with the direction the story takes in the end to be an unexpected and profound final act in an amazing production. It sets up and delivers a thought-provoking and well-paced story that smoothly transforms into something much bigger than you could ever have expected it to be. And the best part is that it does not all happen in one moment but instead, slowly sets up a series of events, puts them into motion one by one, and then binds it all together around its central character, Louise. Another perfection of Arrival is the power behind the constant twists and turns. It has successfully proven that science fiction can be, despite the implications of its name, one of the most ‘human’ genres to make a film about. Arrival had the potential to focus mainly on stunning imagery and effects but instead, it focuses on language and conversation. It focuses on humanity and time and memory, and all that is worth fighting for on this planet. This is a film that will make you think; you either work out what is happening and watch as it comes to life or you are mesmerized at each and every turn and then blown away by the end. I have experienced both sides, having seen the movie twice so far, and I can say that the experience is wonderful on both accounts.
     Arrival has a level of strength in just about everything part, making it impossible to break the movie down into individual parts. It is a piece of art that the artist has taken careful consideration with each piece - the performances, dialogue, cinematography, soundtrack, screenplay, editing, and direction - forming one elegantly structured masterpiece (with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s  The Revenant coming in a very close second). It is a film that is about more than just language. and it proves how divided we are as a species; as each nation interprets the alien's language into different meanings and due to a lack of clear understanding, it creates fear and paranoia that could lead to global war. When Arrival ends and you discuss it for hours, you will find yourself not focusing on the aliens but rather focusing on the emotional power of it all. There will always be a mystery surrounding the unknown but the future can be just as hopeful and bright as it is scary, and no matter what it should be approached with hope, faith, and confidence.
     Overall, Arrival is a is a breathtaking achievement that demonstrates the amount of range Denis Villeneuve can put into a genre. And after a year of emotionless superhero films and crude comedies, Arrival is a stroke of genius.  The potential behind this story was vast and it delivers in spades. And in terms of the workings and artistic skills, Arrival is a beautiful, unique, and visually stunning film that you never want to take your eyes off of. This is a movie you are going to have to focus on the entire time, let it transport you across time and space only to bring you back down to Earth, evoking a feeling you may never have experienced before.

“Despite knowing the journey and where it leads... I embrace it and I welcome every moment of it.”
- Dr. Louise Banks.

Final Vote
Worth Seeing:  5 of 5 stars
Worth Buying:  5 of 5 stars

I hope you liked this post, subscribe to my blog via email HERE, send in your comments, and watch Arrival (2016).

Movies Similar 
The 5th Wave (2016)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008)
Gravity (2013)
Interstellar (2014)
The Knowing (2009)
The Martian (2015)
Passengers (2016)
Skyline (2010)

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Denis Villeneuve


Writing Credits:

     (Screenplay) Eric Heisserer
     (Based on the story, “Story of Your Life”) Ted Chiang


Produced by:

  Paul Barbeau         ---    line producer
  Glen Basner           ---    executive producer
  Dan Cohen             ---    executive producer
  Eric Heisserer        ---    executive producer
  Martin Henri         ---    line producer
  Michael Jackman  ---    co-producer
  Dan Levine             ---    producer
  Shawn Levy            ---    producer
  David Linde           ---    producer
  Karen Lunder        ---    executive producer
  Tory Metzger         ---    executive producer
  Milan Popelka       ---    executive producer
  Aaron Ryder          ---    producer
  Stan Wlodkowski  ---    executive producer


Amy Adams --- Louise Banks
Jeremy Renner --- Ian Donnelly
Forest Whitaker --- Colonel Weber
Michael Stuhlbarg --- Agent Halpern
Mark O'Brien --- Captain Marks
Tzi Ma --- General Shang
Abigail Pniowsky --- 8-Year-Old-Hannah
Julia Scarlett Dan --- 12-Year-Old-Hannah
Jadyn Malone --- 6-Year-Old-Hannah
Frank Schorpion --- Dr. Kettler
Lucas Chartier-Dessert --- Private Lasky
Christian Jadah --- Private Combs
Sonia Vigneault --- Dr. J. Bydwell
Mark Camacho --- Richard Riley
Larry Day --- CIA Officer Dan Ryder 

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