PLOT- When aliens land their ships on twelve sites around the world, American linguist, Louise Banks ( Amy Adams), is approached by Colonel Weber ( Forest Whitaker), to help the military decipher the alien language. Louise is brought to the landing site in Wyoming, where she leads a team of linguists, who are working in cooperation with experts from around the world, each country rapidly trying to figure out why the aliens have landed and if they mean harm. Leading another team of experts, but working closely with Louise, is mathematician, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). Tensions between countries quickly rise, as the alien language begins to be deciphered. Will lack of communication and miscommunication, lead to a global catastrophe? Can we communicate with not only another species, but with our own?
LIKE- Dan and I went to see Arrival, with zero expectations. We had not seen a trailer and didn't really know what it was about, except that it had something to do with aliens. Let me begin, by saying that Arrival is one of the best movies that I've seen in 2016. It's thought-provoking, affecting, surprising, and exciting. It's a damn good story!
Without giving anything major away, I was impressed with how this "Alien Story" wasn't really an alien story at all. It's this wonderful, all encompassing story about Louise's life and the choices that humans must make. It's about choosing to fully live, despite potential fears and pain. Louise seems skittish at first, but she's a bold character, who makes bold decisions. The ending of the film had a very unexpected twist, that honestly, left me stunned.
One of the early scenes has Louise walking through her college campus shortly after the aliens have landed, this is maybe a day or two after the landing. The campus is deserted. This was unsettling, and reminded me of 9/11, when I decided to drive from my home in Glendale to Pasadena, where I had previously arranged to meet with a fellow classmate to work on a project. On the ten minute drive, I didn't encounter a single car on the freeway that wasn't a police car. This is Los Angeles, we just don't have empty freeways, ever. There was no curfew, but everyone was staying home, scared, keeping loved ones close. Seeing Louise on the empty campus, brought up those memories. I think that Arrival handled both the public and government reaction to an alien landing in a realistic manner. It's a scary thing.
There was potential to be cheesy with the design of the aliens, however, this also works well. The aliens, named by the humans as Heptapods, are seen throughout the film, but always through a hazy glass partition, keeping it mysterious. The way they use written communication is unique.
Story is what I'm primarily interested in, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the acting. Renner and Whitaker are solid supporting actors, but this is Adam's show. She carries the film and delivers a riveting, emotional performance. She is the heart of Arrival. A little warning, Arrival might leave you feeling shattered. Dan and I walked out of the cinema feeling drained, and it led to a melancholy evening. This melancholy carried over into the next day. I couldn't stop thinking about the film.
DISLIKE - Not a single thing.
RECOMMEND- Yes!!! Go see Arrival on the big screen, it's a film that should be experienced in the cinema. I say this, not just because it's beautiful to behold, but that its themes are of communication and humanity, making it a film that is a better experience with the collective energy of an audience. I happen to always think having that audience energy is an important part of the movie going experience.