Arrival is an alien movie without alien as its central subject. It's more like a drama revolving its main character, Louise Banks (Amy Adams), on cracking the way we communicate and experience our life. It rests on Sapir-Whorf hypothesis that language shapes the way our mind think. Utilizing this hypothesis, the movie build on a premise that gives us an interesting non-linear technique in presenting the story and reveal a surprising twist in the end while still manage to grasp the audience suspense (without awkwardly dumbing it down like many other movies with a twist).
However, as it is centered mostly on Louise, the people and setting around her feel rather bland and weak. Major supporting character Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), despite having long enough screen time, appear nothing more than a prop to Louise. Relationship between them come off as a bit janky and sudden near the end. A number of other supporting character, especially Shang (Tzi Ma), also feel like a shallow plot device to keep the story going.
Still a good one for the interesting premise, not the best one for the execution though.