What would we do if Aliens landed on Earth? Would we panic, and hide? Would we riot? Yeah. Maybe all of those things would happen, but the answer should be: Unite. Arrival is the story of twelve space ships that land in various locations around the world. I've had my eye on this movie for quite some time now, and though I' am usually late in seeing a movie when it is released, I was quite fortunate to catch this movie on opening weekend. I didn't know what to expect going into this movie. Most of the trailers made it seem suspenseful, and scary, yet it was none of those things. Sure there was an air of mystery throughout the entire film, but nothing ever felt truly threatening. What we got was a very personal film from director, Dennis Villeneuve. One that challenges us to think, rather than one that just scares us.
Amy Adams plays, Louise, a Linguistics professor with a troubled past. She is a highly decorated interpreter, and she is specifically chosen to communicate with the Alien visitors when she is approached by, Colonel Webber, played by Forest Whitaker. Along with Louise is a Mathematician named, Ian Donnelly played by Jeremy Renner. Together they must learn how to translate the Alien language, and the government is very clear when they tell Louise that she must get answers from them right away. Why they are here, and where do they come from. One of the very first ships reported on the news lands in the back country of Montana. There, Louise, and Ian are taken to a base camp for debriefing, and then aboard the ship when a door opens every eighteen hours into the UFO. Other countries are also sending in specialists in their own areas as they attempt to make contact. Although each country is talking to each other for more information, many are protecting secrets of their own, and others fear the UFO's so much that they position themselves to attack.
There is a sense of wonderment to the entire film. It almost feels magical, but I must be clear; It doesn't become, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and it never becomes, Predator. It fits right in between. Villeneuve crafts the movie perfectly, and he uses the actors who remain cool, even when nervous, to keep us composed as well. He even shows us the Aliens right away to get it out of heads early, "There will not be any jump scares in this movie." The film is about talking, not action. Most of the movie is our main character's learning, and teaching the Aliens about our language, as they teach us theirs.
After sonic communication fails, they move on to visual. The Aliens show us their written form of speech which is more circular than straight-lined sentence. Louise realizes that in order to understand them she must think outside of the box from what she knows. To them, language isn't linear. They don't write from left to right, and they certainly have no beginning, and no end. This is also a perfect insight into the species themselves. Since they are not bound by the same rules as we are, then they must not bound by time. Which begs the question: Are they from the future? Well if they mastered space travel they have to be. Right?
Once again, I must stop right there in order to let you experience the movie for yourself. The ending is poetic, and the whole experience hasn't left my mind since. This is more human than sci-thriller. Arrival teaches us the power of communication, and how our choices make us who we are.
It is refreshing that in a time where we get big explosions, super heroes fighting super villains, and over used special effects, that we still get gems like these that turns the whole genre upside down. If you are not prepared to see this movie then I say wait until you are in a better frame of mind. Don't go in thinking you are going to see a horror, or a run-of-the-mill alien invasion movie. This is not that. I warned you not to take your babies to see, Sausage Party because it was not a kids movie, and I am warning you again. This is not an action picture. Wait until Star Wars, Rogue One comes out in theaters if you want something more exciting. Although for me this movie was exciting, chilling, and an eye-opener. I have this on my Top Ten best films of 2016, and I think if you go in with an open mind then it will right at the top for you as well.