Grounded by Amy Adams' breathtaking performance, Arrival is a departure of sorts for director Denis Villeneuve, opting to showcase the lighter sound of humanity here as opposed to the more pessimistic tones he showcased with Prisoners and Sicario.
When mysterious spacecraft touch down across the globe, an elite team - led by expert linguist Louise Banks (Adams) - are brought together to investigate.
Elsewhere, the cinematography is truly exceptional with the alien craft taking a backseat to sweeping landscapes from across the world. What's so special about this is that the film acknowledges she's scared (her hands shake as she is lifted into the pod) but she's also fascinated, avid, and determined-qualities we usually see in a male hero.
Yes, the movie is ultimately a love story, and anyone who prefers their science fiction to be dystopian or, you know, scientific, may prefer to steer clear of this sentimental picture about interstellar communication. Instead, he gives us chilly virtuosity with the shift in gravity as the people board the spaceship and a "how did they film that?" shot late on as Louise enters a nether space to talk to the aliens. More of a mystery that spools out like Jodi Foster's Contact that moves at a slow pace trying to fill in the blanks to the very end. That should explain why I'm absolutely buzzing about "Arrival", a first contact film by director Denis Villeneuve that is certainly one of the best films of 2016.
Aside from a few minor aspects, "Arrival" is truly one of better films of this genre I've seen in some time.
Time shifts within the story keep us constantly reassessing our understanding of what's happening on screen, and will spark discussion after the credits roll. Jeremy Renner's theoretical physicist, Ian, wants to obtain space-travel formulas; a cynical intelligence officer (Michael Stuhlbarg) aims to ascertain whether they're here to divide and conquer.
Banks has previously assisted the military in translating a video of insurgents, and so Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) asks her for help, playing a tape of the alien noises in the hope that Banks can somehow decipher them. How would you react if we received these kinds of visitors? "Arrival" is earning nearly unanimous praise from critics as a "thinking person's sci-fi movie". Even the very way we think is likely to be so fundamentally different that it might not be possible.
"Am I the only one having trouble saying "aliens"?" Nevertheless, it is possibly the building of the more intricate plot points that knock this film down from unbelievable to very good.
Running Time: 1 hr.
She discussed Arrival, in theatres on Friday, along with language intricacies and reprising her role as Princess Giselle in the Enchanted sequel.