Denis Villenueve. A solid lineup. A different take on first contact. I loved Sicario but went in expecting a cerebral epic sci-fi.
That was a mistake.
Good things:- Some really nice visual scenes- Interesting aliens Calligraphy aliens!- Clear theme of communication is omnipresent- A neat score that might be awesome in a different movie
Bad things:- The acting- The lack of emotional reaction to ALIENS! The students asking to turn on the TV, all of the main characters- Lack of useful characters Only the aliens and Louise actually did anything the entire movie. - Supporting characters are very stupid in an attempt to foil the main character slightly- Very clumsy exposition. Genre-typical news reports, voice-overs, dumb characters asking stupid questions. - Very slow pacing. This worked in parts of Sicario, but didn't work in this movie because there was no tension. The main characters never seemed remotely threatened.- Lousie showing up at school thinking everyone will be there after aliens arrive and there's a state of emergency- Why can't you translate alien language like you can translate Farsi. This is a paraphrase but in the spirit of what Colonel Weber was saying. - Useless love interest when the costars have no chemistry.- Ultrasecure military base lets someone steal a ton of explosives and put it in an ALIEN SPACECRAFT without anyone noticing. - Many unbelievable plot points- Poor dialogue Let's make a baby - real quote- Poor handling of the major plot points Looking through time seems to undermine the fact that the aliens need help. Why did one have to die if they could see the future? Why did only one die when they were right next to each other?- Very heavy handed moral messaging that didn't align with the rest of the movie.- Why couldn't Ian also see into the future as he studied the language, or any of the others?
Overall extremely disappointing. I'm honestly surprised critics or general moviegoers like this. The premise was very good. It's a real shame the execution failed so miserably.
I am going to talk about ’Arrival’ without even mentioning the plot, so don’t worry about spoilers.
There is a certain sensation that a serious film-goer might be aware of that casual popcorn-chompers may never fully appreciate. That sensation is the almost subconscious relaxation that comes over a person when they realize that they’re in good cinematic hands. You go to the theatre, and sit down, and turn off your phone, and the house lights dim, and the movie begins, and suddenly you find yourself immersed in this enormous, calm wave of relief. Yes, you say to yourself, this film-maker knows what he’s doing. Sometimes you get that feeling ten minutes into a film, sometimes less.
With Denis Villeneuve’s ’Arrival’, the sensation shows up almost immediately. Practically from the very first camera set-up.
This isn’t just a confident film-maker who knows exactly how and when he is going to dole out information. This isn’t just a film-maker who knows how to work with his cinematographer, who is just crazy amazing. This is a film-maker who, in a way, uses every cinematic technique in his tool-kit to teach you how to watch his film and how to fully appreciate his film. 'Arrival' is a crash-course in aesthetics and pacing and narrative, and it should declare to anyone who watches this film that Villeneuve is a director to keep an eye on.
Moreover, you sense almost instinctively that you can trust what he’s doing. This movie is not going to end up in some stupid nonsensical twist that betrays everything that has come before. It’s not going to trick you or kick you in the ass just for the sake of tricking you or kicking you in the ass. It may have a powerful, emotional surprise or two, but they aren’t cheap, they are integral. They are deeply considered, and woven deftly into the fabric of this film. And if you’ve been an attentive film-goer and learned how to watch this film while also watching it, you will appreciate that, ultimately, they have always been an intrinsic part of the story. But you’ll have to watch this film to know what I mean.
A lot of people are saying, “If you're a fan of sci-fi, then you owe it to yourself to see this.” I think what really needs to be said about ’Arrival’ is, if you have a high-school-aged daughter, or niece, you owe it to her to take her to see this.
This movie may be small comfort, especially after a vicious U.S. election that succeeded in revealing how surprisingly anti-science and how sadly anti-woman our modern world really is. But for those who aren't afraid to think or to feel, this film is still some comfort. I didn't expect to feel so fiercely hopeful after seeing a mid-November sci-fi movie, but I was.
Now I'm just going to hang on to that hope for as long as I can.
[8.2/10] It’s hard to talk about Arrival without spoiling the film. So much of what makes it more than just a well-done first contact story is tied up in its later developments. They recontextualize enough of the prior proceedings that trying to discuss the import or quality of the film without mentioning them is like trying to give someone directions without letting them know the destination.
But its premise is fairly straightforward. Aliens have come to Earth, in twelve ships scattered across the globe. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) a linguist, is brought by the U.S. Military to the ship in Montana, in attempt to help us communicate with the extra-terrestrial presence. With the help of theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and buffer provided by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), Banks slowly but surely finds ways to talk to these beings, with the American team alternatively working with and against similar groups in other nations attempting the same.
And then there’s the twist. The birth, death, and tragedy of Louise’s daughter, implied through the grammar of film to have occurred prior to the alien encounter we witness, actually happened afterward. The estranged husband hinted at early on turns out to be Donnelly. And Banks herself, through learning to think like the heptapods, and eventually direct contact with the aliens, becomes unstuck in time. She experiences moments from what we’d consider the past, present, and future, in non-linear splendor, mixing them up like a memory collage.
Despite the narrative trickery employed, the reveal itself isn’t so unfamiliar to those acquainted with the novels of Kurt Vonnegut, Watchmen, and even Star Trek: The Next Generation. But what the twist lacks in novelty, it makes up for in thematic resonance. Like those works, Arrival uses the time-dilated nature of its story to comment on processing trauma, the value of one’s experiences and life itself in a chaotic universe, and the potential of the human mind to expand to contemplate greater possibilities.
You’re unlikely to find a film this year with as many intriguing philosophical implications as Arrival. In that, it is akin to The Prestige, as a film with a twist that initially knocks over the viewer with how it changes the reality of what’s been depicted up to that point, but that makes its bones from the implications of that new reality. In both films, what the reveals show about the characters, and say about the value and nature of human life, linger long after the shock of the twist dissipates.
But the force of the movie does kick into high gear after the non-linear way in which Louise begins to experience time is unveiled. It answers the plot-specific mystery that Arrival presents – why did the heptapods come here? They, it turns out, have experienced time in this fashion from the beginning, the thoughts and information able to exist simultaneously in the past and the future. Their journey is to help Earth unify, to serve as a catalyst for cooperation, so that three millennia in the future, humanity will be able to help them. It is an intriguing and clockwork explanation for their presence.
Beyond, however, the on-the-ground (so to speak) plot mechanics of Arrival, what makes it stand out is its exploration of how this change in temporal perspective changes how individuals think, how they value different things in their lives, how they approach and view the world. The film reflects this in interesting ways.
The heptapods’ language is circular, more symmetrical and again, non-linear to reflect their perspective, tying into the motif that learning a language rewires your brain to a certain extent. Louise naming her daughter Hannah, which the episode notes is a palindrome, reflects the way this same symmetry and perspective has filtered down to her. And the film itself often frames Louise symmetrically, using a flat background or one-point perspective to balance the images.
But most notably, that mode of thought changes Louise’s perspective on life writ large, estranges her from eventual husband Donnelly, and motivates her to both marry him and have a child, knowing that each choice will end in pain. The cinch is that for Louise, these decisions do not “end.” They simply are. They exist on the same continuum as all moments, not greater or lesser in priority or order than the others.
And for that, for the gift given to her by the heptapods, she chooses the path that will increase the amount of bliss she enjoys, where she experiences love, where she is enriched. Amy Adams understated performance gives life to this epiphany. Freed from constraints, in philosophy and temporal perspective, of having to fear loss and hardship, she pursues those paths that will make her life more worthwhile, that will give her more moments of happiness and wonder and fulfillment, regardless of any chronological path from joy to sadness.
It’s a laudable message, that applies even to the humble folks who still experience time in a linear fashion. Much of cinema tackles ideas about coping with loss or valuing the good times even in the shadow of the bad. But the device of the scattered timescape of Louise’s life, seen as an accumulation of experiences and not a linear progression, drives that point home in a unique way. Much of Arrival is about broadening perspectives, and the scattered scenes combining what was, what is, and what will be help to cast the same broadening spell on the audience that the heptapods do for Louise.
That’s part of why talking about this film without talking about its twist is so hard. The way Arrival tells its story, the ways those moments are sequenced in the film, is so essential to what the film is trying to say that discussing it apart from that perspective is unavoidably lacking. In a film about altering perspective, there is only so much to say without talking about how it attempts to shift the audience’s own perspective in the process. Arrival uses the alien and unfamiliar to tell a deeply humanistic story, about unity, philosophy, and worth, through one individual who comes to see them all very differently.
I don't believe I've ever been so captivated by such a deeply flawed movie as I am with Arrival. What others have written about far more insightfully than I could, namely that the acting is hollow at best, that the plot is nothing so much as a severely frayed thread in danger of completely unraveling, and an utter waste of one of the most creative iterations of extra-terrestrial contact in cinematic history...is all too true. Yet despite all of these reasons to dismiss the lamentable execution of this piece of art, I can't help but admit that I love it.
When you strip away all of the trappings and examine this movie solely for the essential story being told, you are privy to something very profound and genuinely uplifting: a treatise on how humanity's manifold foibles might just be redeeming after all. Through the protagonist, Louise, we see the unfolding of a series of personal tragedies being tempered with unflinching dedication to the accomplishment of something worthwhile and therein given purpose. At the risk of sounding hyperbolic, I found in it elements of the best of Disney's heroes, Shakespeare's tragic rulers, and religious texts' unwavering commitment to showing that there is no such thing as a meaningless sacrifice. While I believe they all could've been done greater justice, I believe their mere coexistence here is cause to sit up and take note, eschewing any demands for a greater polish and fidelity to realism.
I came away with a greater knowledge of myself and a more forgiving opinion of our species as a whole, and for both of those I am grateful beyond measure. Perhaps in time I'll come to see that the imperfections in its presentation actually work to clarify some or all of these laudable aspects of the narrative,...or perhaps the magic will fade under the weight of familiarity and I'll be unable to defend it as I have here now. Either way, the two hours I devoted to watching this movie for the first time are ones that I won't ever regret, and perhaps that's the best praise any artistic work can receive, especially in light of this particular story.
I was reading the short story collection by Ted Chiang that includes 'Story of Your Life', the story this film is based off of... and within the contents of book it was already my favourite. Imagine my surprise when I discovered it was adapted into a film and given the Denis Villeneuve treatment.
I thought they did a wonderful job of adapting the story, but the short story goes a lot more in depth when explaining what is happening to Dr Banks. The only problem I had with the film is that they don't explain well enough the fact that once you understand Heptapod language, you realise there is no such thing as free will (which is why the Heptapod dies, they don't warn them to defuse the bomb, Dr Banks chooses to have a daughter anyway - there is no such thing as a choice). There is a moment of the short story in which she essentially becomes detached, seeing what the other guys say as if they were rehearsed lines. Would have been cool to see that.
Leaving the original material aside, the film is super effective and just looks stunning. I'm sure I will be rewatching it in the future.
I can't say much that hasn't already been said about this film but it was fantastic to see it unravel the way it did.
That being said i have one issue with the way it ended and that is the dick move from Louise to Ian. Why she didn't have the decency to tell Ian about it their child's impending illness until years later. It was his kid too. Either tell him from the start or don't tell him at all. Clearly he got mad and found out that she knew which means she told him at some time that she knew all along. Who does she think she is? A child is two people.
Also from another comment "Also, it can be considered selfish as she is viewing time differently; she is able to relive moments with her daughter when she pleases and experience the joy she brought her constantly. Ian will spend the rest of his life feeling the despair of his deceased child and unable to relive that joy." Exactly. Really bums me out but the movie wasn't bad.
Outside of that Amy Adams played an incredible lead in this film and hope she is able to continue getting the roles she deserves. During those flash scenes with her daughter it reminded me so much of my mother it hurt a bit, in a good way. I honestly want to know more but i understand a sequel would defeat the purpose of this film. It gives hope for humanity in some way but of course it would take an alien visit for any progress to happen haha.
Clouded potential. It was good, but not the typical sci-fi movie I was expecting. It was more along the lines of something like Contact or Interstellar, where there's some good meat for the sci-fi hungry, but is interspersed with the lead character's emotional past. In other words, it's been done before.
However, Arrival just didn't do it quite as well as the others, and tried to end it with one of those "uber-deep/strange" twist endings that almost seem like cheap way to end a movie when you run out of ideas. Instead, you're left with an ending that just leaves you hanging, and is probably supposed to seem clever. But instead, it left me thinking that they indeed couldn't come to a complete closure. So they said "And then this weird crap happened, and (insert emotional attempt here), THE END."
I gave this a rating of 6 purely because of the good acting, and the good, but not over-the-top special effects. My initial rating was a 5/10, but only because I hated the forced and unnecessary backgrounding. After some thought, I went with a 6 to be fair, but that was only after I got over the fact that this is just yet another movie that's been released before, mixed with a few similar movies, thrown in a blender and rebaked into a casserole of tired stories, and sprinkled with some new fresh actors to make it taste decent.
Arrival explores a particular type of first contact. The ominous ship that appear all over the world don't seem to do nothing, they don't destroy famous building or monuments. They are just there. Every 18 hours a small entrance appears, allowing a group of daring humans to go inside and try to communicate with the aliens.
The plot is interesting and well thought. It is based on a short story by Ted Chiang called "Story of your life"(which I do recommend), but with some(minor) changes. The main character, played by Amy Adams, is an expert linguist who is recruited by the US army to determine the intentions of the alien vessels. She will then get to go inside the spaceship and interact with the two creatures inside. I won't say more to avoid spoilers, but know that it is more of a cerebral type of sci-fi than most. Even then, it manages to be captivating for the whole runtime.
The cast was good. Amy Adams was really great and really carried the whole movie. The others were a bit anonymous, but still ok.
The score was really impressive. Without being too much in your face (or rather ears), it helped increase the sense of wonderment and fear of an alien first contact. That's how it's done.
While the audio was good, the visuals were nothing short of breathtaking. The first time we get to see the ships up close is an extremely visually pleasing scene, able to convey the dimensions sheer dimensions of these foreign object and how strange they are. they really feel out of place, but in a good way. I also really liked the "chamber" into which the aliens resided. That's a really clever way to kinda hide the aliens to make them feel even more, well, "alien". Small sore point: that scene where Amy Adams is kinda floating looks really bad; the CGI on her hair was not good.
In the end, it is a really good movie. It looks good, it sounds good and it makes you think a bit when it's over. The only reason I don't give it an higher vote is because of some things that I feel are a bit of a plot hole(i'll add a spoiler marked section later). Even then, I absolutely recommend it; the two hours of the movie will fly by. Even better if you can watch it with some friends, as the movie can ignite a nice discussion after it is finished.
First of all, I think that the way the flashbacks/flashforwards of Louise's daughter were misleading, as the audience was lead to believe that Louise was experiencing them at the same time we were seeing them. It didn't feel "fair". But I can forgive that in name of a plot twist. What I feel more strongly about is that the movie tried to both have a deterministic future and free will. If you can see the future and you can change it, are you really seeing the future? And yet, the movie tries to imply that Louise makes a choice when deciding to have a baby that she knows will die very young. In the novel, it is clear that there is no free will. In the movie, it was left ambiguous just to pull an emotional string.
Finally back to having some time for movies, and Arrival has been waiting for me for a while now...
When it comes down to the technical this movie is a masterpiece. Plain and simple!! It looks gorgeous, the cinematography and editing were superb, and the sound is out of this world. If that had been all I cared about this would be an easy rating to set...
The story?!? Well...I got some issues with that.
SHAME ON YOU Denis Villeneuve!!!!!
I don't like to have my heartstrings pulled shamelessly from the first frame of a movie. It's a cheap trick, and it works for the ones doing it every damn time...and I hate that fact sooo bad.
Though...don't get me wrong. The story is actually rather good, it's just that it uses all the tricks in the books to make you feel something. I like to make up my own mind, and not getting things served on a platter. Especially feelings...
Anyway..the movie works...I suspect it does everything Villeneuve set out to do. The story in itself are interesting, and it got me thinking about what I would have done in that situation.
For many people, this movie will be a masterpiece...It will, however, not be high on my rewatch list.
On a side note...I REALLY want Dr.Banks house. What a gorgeous view...
man, i knew the general plot going in and the ending still hit me like a bag of bricks. i'm not crying there's just a tree branch in my eye. first this movie threw killer quotes at me like "if all i ever gave you was a hammer" "everything would be a nail", then it made me emotional about my own damn name.
the pacing and the atmosphere of the movie are something people are either going to love or hate. it's very much a movie about communication and thinking before acting, and the themes ring painfully true in today's global culture and political climate. so i think where you fall on the spectrum of opinions on national security, how countries ally themselves and what your own personal mentality is when it comes to fight-or-flight with the unknown will REALLY affect your perspective when you watch this film. the main stars were good—i love anything involving amy adams, to be fair—and i liked the stark contrast between the clinical approaches louise and ian took and their impulsive reactions and gut decisions. the supporting cast was believable to me; the impatience, ignorance and paranoia on the parts of the government and military. plus ian's skepticism that eventually bled into openness once he had what any cynical scientist wants—to see it to believe it. forrest played a convincing colonel who just wanted to deal with the threat like any other threat; i can't blame the man for not having the desire to sit through language acquisition with aliens time, language acquisition can be exhausting! but these were all things that felt real, and made it easy for me to connect with the characters. it lacks the action and thrilling suspense of some sci-fi movies, i'll admit, but from the very beginning it was clear that the movie wasn't trying for any of that. instead, it was poignant and surprisingly relatable for its genre. also there's nothing cooler in the universe than linguistics.
Arrival is a sci-fi film about aliens visiting the Earth that takes the high-road with the preconceptions. No laser blasts nor aggressive creatures bent on overthrowing mankind. As an ‘aliens have arrived’ films go this can only be seen as a good thing.
Add into this mix the main protagonist as an intelligent woman who only wants to solve the mystery of communicating with the ‘guests’ and you have something that could be labeled ‘adult science-fiction’. Louise Banks is a great leading character, she never resorts to violence and only uses her intelligence, experience and, dare I say, intuition to resolve seemingly insurmountable problems.
Juxtaposing this is the unfortunate US military who are once again tarred with the hot-head brush with an angry, violent, mistrusting group festering within them. Certainly, this is a giant cliche that I am guessing is added to give the audience something, and by extension Amy Adam’s character, to bounce off. It is a very old dramatic trick and in my opinion, weakens the movie. It is the 21st century do modern audiences still need melodramatic, potboiler, ploys to poke them in a certain direction? It would be brave if film-makers took a step back and decided not to have ‘baddies’ or angry characters the viewers can hiss and boo at.
It’s a minor quibble of mine and not really specifically aimed at Arrival in all honesty. Any cine-literate viewer will have seen these plot devices over and over again enough times to start to get weary of it all.
Notwithstanding the cliche Arrival has a fine cast with the always great Amy Adams, an actor I call a ‘Cornflake performer’ as in I would be happy to watch her eat a bowl of cornflakes – she would be great I’m sure.
Jeremy Renner is given the smaller role – it would have been the other way around a few years ago – with fewer lines and a much smaller but important part in the story. In all honesty he looks more comfortable in a what could be said to be as an ‘egghead’ than he does in his macho-tough-guy roles. Adams’ stellar efforts backed up by Renner are further supported by the great screen presences of Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlberg, who I initially mistook for Joaquin Phoenix.
The effects are great and look realistic enough to blend in seamlessly with the action and the creatures and their language do not disappoint. For me, and I’m well aware it probably is only me, I would have been happy with a tad more solving of the language as it seemed to go from ‘not really sure’ to ‘full on communication’ in a beat. Once again a minor quibble.
The major point of the story – I won’t give it away – was reasonably mysterious and actually well thought out enough to be slightly plausible and it was way into the running time before I cottoned onto what was happening. I see this as a major plus point for the makers, usually I can rapidly suss-out what is going to happen or why it is happening in a story. The weaker aspect, again without spoiling the direction of the story for those yet to see the film, is the resolution of the problems facing mankind near the end. The plot twists and turns itself into farcical knots that clearly unravel on closer examination.
Director Denis Villeneuve whips the whole thing along at a good pace, possibly too slow for some sci-fi fans, but to my mind, it has very little baggage and the look and feel are perfect – this bodes well for the sequel to Bladerunner, a film that has caused me no end of consternation. Being one of my favourtie films I’m not looking forward to a sequel never asked for tarnishing my happy experiences in the world of Roy Batty.
Arrival does have a massive elephant in the room though, it has been addressed by better reviewers than me, i.e. all of them, and that is the similarity in the story, tone, feel and even characterisation to the film version of Carl Sagan’s Contact. Add a dash of Interstellar jiggery-pokery and you have a distinct and even uneasy feeling of familiarity.
Arrival is an intellectually stimulating science-fiction movie rather than a CGI explosion fest about visitation from ‘aliens’ featuring a strong, resourceful, female lead. You never know that type of character could make a great Dr. Who. Just a thought…
I couldn't stop thinking about this one and may not for awhile. "Arrival" is one of the best Sci-Fi films I've seen in this year. Everything about this film was just top notch that I can't put into words without going all over.
So let put it like this:
Amy Adams was wonderful in this. A very grounded and real performance. Probably her best. Same thing that can said about Jeremy Renner.
And how the aliens were part of the story was fascinating and quite clever. Without spoiling anything, they had a unique look to them. Like spiders. Although out the film, you feel their presence. A presence that's both scary and yet remarkable.
Denis Villeneuve is my favorite working director. He can release a movie every year and still be close of making a masterpiece. Villeneuve delivers a haunting and heartbreaking story that leaves the audience with a experience that will stay with them. A beautiful, thought-provoking, Sci-Fi film that isn't an action or war movie. And I'm even more excited to see "Blade Runner 2049".
And how can I forgot the amazing score, astonishing cinematography, intelligent script, and the tearjerker ending that left me in pieces.
I honestly can't say anything else. Please do yourself a favor and watch it. For now, I'm dumbfounded.