For the full Movie Bears Podcast review of ‘Arrival,’ check out the video below. Read on for our mini-review!
Once in a while a movie comes along that works so brilliantly well that it elevates its genre. And with ‘Arrival’, the new sci-fi film from director Denis Villeneuve, that is never truer. With a pitch-perfect mixture of cerebral, hard science fiction elements and a quiet but powerfully emotional wallop, this alien invasion movie is the most human movie of the year.
Based on the short story ‘Story of Your Life’ by award winning sci-fi author Ted Chiang, ‘Arrival’ takes place around present day when several strange alien spacecraft, looking like giant stone saucers, suddenly and mysteriously appear on Earth. While the world community scrambles, a talented professor of linguistics, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), is recruited by the US government to decipher the communication methods of the alien beings and determine the intent of their visit to Earth.
There is a lot more that elevates this film besides how wonderfully it handles the “let’s talk with the aliens” procedural element, which it does manage to cover quite well, if a just a bit superficially. But the film’s brilliance lies in how it handles the underlying heart of the story. Viewers who appreciate a unique storytelling approach will be rapt by how deftly the source material and Villeneuve’s vision weaves the globally significant stakes for humankind with very intimate and personal ones and have them work perfectly together for a surprisingly emotional movie experience.
‘Arrival’ also features solid performances from its cast including Jeremy Renner as Louise’s scientist teammate and Forrest Whitaker as the military officer in charge, but this is squarely Amy Adams’ movie, as it, and we as the audience, become focused primarily on the character of Louise. Her performance and the character combine to give us one of the year’s great movie heroes of any gender.
Add in its cool but beautifully ethereal cinematography by Bradford Young (‘Selma’, ‘Ain’t Them Bodies Saints’) and a memorably affecting score by Johan Johansson (‘Sicario’, ‘The Theory of Everything’) and Villeneuve’s ‘Arrival’ is the first “run and see” film of the Oscar season and one of the best sci-fi genre films in recent memory.
By Jim Puliafico, Movie Bears Podcast