Monday, 14 November 2016
12 humongous spaceships land in 12 different locations, sending planet Earth into a panic. Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads a team of investigators as they try to figure out what is inside the UFO's and also, what do they want. As tensions rise, global war seems imminent as Banks and her team must find a way to communicate with these extraterrestrials before it is too late.
'Arrival' is different to many alien invasion films so I guess that it is important to know what you are getting into. This isn't whimsical like an E.T and it most certainly isn't action-packed like an Independence Day. Instead, it is more like a 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind', where the story is a slowly built up, yet filled with mystery and intrigue. The film has strangely marketed itself by asking the question 'Why are they here?', with some of the trailer hinting at there being some action within the film. You must be warned to not expect that when you go to see this, as it is not that type of film. 'Arrival' is a film that is going to make you think about everything that happens with its delicate and thoughtful storytelling.
Denis Villeneuve is one of the best directors at the moment with films like 'Prisoners' and 'Sicario' gaining him critical acclaim. Villeneuve is a very talented director who takes a style of film that we are used to and does someone very fresh with it. With 'Prisoners' it was a take on kidnap thriller. 'Sicario' featured a real thought provoking take alongside a very effective action thriller. Now with 'Arrival', Villeneuve provides an alien invasion film, but with the powerful message of how we must work together and communicate with one another to ensure that the world is a better place. 'Arrival' feels very fresh to the viewer as Villeneuve adapts the Nebula Award-winning short story 'Story of Your Life' very effectively.
Villeneuve works with award winning cinematographer Bradford Young to create some jaw dropping scenes. This film features some of the best cinematography of the year with the continuous shot of the humongous vessel hovering above the ground being a highlight of the film. This a gorgeous piece of cinema and looks destined to be a classic shot. This is only one of many as the film showcases the 12 ships around the world in beautiful fashion. Villeneuve's 'Sicario' was praised for its cinematography last year, even earning an Academy Award nomination. 'Arrival' looks certain to follow suit and maybe even go one step further.
It's been a stellar week for Amy Adams as she had 'Nocturnal Animals' come out last week to high praise. In my review for that film, I said that she may be lucky to find herself nominated for her role. 'Arrival' has cemented the fact that Adams should be nominated as she is fantastic in her role as linguistics professor Louise Banks. Adams is featured the most throughout the film and it is her experience that is the main focus of the film, even more so than the alien invaders herself. Unlike in 'Nocturnal Animals', Adams character is the main protagonist of the film as she works to communicate with these aliens. Adams quality really shows throughout this film, proving to be one of the finest actresses of her generation.
Jeremy Renner accompanies Adams as her co-star and pretty much a kind of sidekick. Renner does very well at providing some more light-hearted moments with some quick witted outbursts and comments. However, for most of the film, he does seem to be in the background as Adams' character goes to work and makes the groundbreaking discoveries. There are moments where he is dotted in which is clearly used to make him feel like a worthwhile member but like in Marvel Cinematic Universe, Renner seems to be the less important supporting character. That doesn't take anything away from his performance as like in those films, he plays the role very well.
The film follows Adams' Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner try to communicate with these aliens in what turns out to be fairly entertaining. The approach to doing this is very lifelike as they do not skip over much and make sure that they are detailed with what they are teaching. Language is a very complicated thing and this is made clear throughout the film. This is shown perfectly as Banks breaks down the complexity of one simple sentence and shows an impatient leader that a lot needs to be taught. This was much more entertaining than it may sound as you enjoy watching these characters make breakthroughs. There is mystery held throughout the whole time as the intentions of these creatures are not clear, as are their capabilities. Uniquely intriguing throughout, which never felt slow or boring, just perfectly executed.
The runtime for this film is just under 2 hours which I do feel is a hindrance to the film. There are moments where you feel like points could be fleshed out a bit more and I feel this is most evident near the end of the film. The ending seems a bit rushed, as does what happens with these extraterrestrials which did seem a bit odd. This film could have easily been longer adding yet more detail to key moments, again especially the ending. This is the one part of the film that I feel dipped in quality. There was such a high standard and slow build throughout the film which didn't help the ending for me. It felt out of place as everything seemed to be perfectly crafted whilst the film seemed to rush in the end.
Once you leave the cinema, you will be intrigued to rewatch this immediately. There is a startling revelation near the end of the film which makes you rethink what you have just seen. This was done incredibly well as you will surely be continuously thinking about this movie once it is finished. That's the true beauty of this film. It is incredibly thought provoking as it respects its audience's intelligence. It encourages you to think, it encourages you to create discussion. 'Arrival' truly is one of the best films of the year which you should be rushing to see.
Final Verdict =
So have you seen 'Arrival'? If so, what did you think of it? I highly recommend this film and hope that this review helped you decide on whether or not you see this film. Once again, thank you for taking the time to read my review, it is much appreciated!
By Angus McGregor