Denis Villeneuve’s (director of Sicario and Prisoners) newest film Arrival has a new take on an age old science fiction premise. Aliens have landed but the sequence is not portrayed like it is in most alien films. Generally, when aliens land we expect complete chaos, our hearts will be pounding, lasers and explosions will take over the screen. With Villeneuve’s take on aliens, he taps into the quiet, eerie, and unsettling.
Twelve extraterrestrial ships have come to earth, but they have not landed. Instead, the massive oval stone-looking ships hover silently around the world’s biggest cities. The US government recruit’s linguistics expert and professor Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), alongside theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) attempt to communicate with the alien species. Their investigation is happening while around the world there is geopolitical mistrust and chaos. In the meantime, the world panics over the aliens’ motives. Powerhouse countries like Russia, the U.S., and China begin to mobilize their armies thinking that war is inevitable. Every 18 hours a hole at the bottom of the ship opens inviting Louise, Ian, and a handful of soldiers and scientists inside. Now inside, the alien spacecraft they come to realize Earth’s rule of gravity does not apply. Louise comes in contact with octopus-looking aliens who appear to be safeguarded away in a glass room. Louis’s job is to communicate with them and find out if “they come in peace.” Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) wants an answer immediately. Louise cannot ask what they want without knowing if they understand the English language, which turns into her teaching them English.
Arrival seems to have a deep sub-text and sends a message that is relevant in today’s day and age; a time of uncertainty as a new force is in power and it seems as if the world has changed overnight. A divided world has to come together in order to overcome mankind’s greatest hurdle.
Arrival is certainly entertaining and provides reasonable suspense, but is a far cry from consideration of awards for the academy award winning director. The movie will keep you engaged while it’s science fiction story is unraveled and the premise will promote you to ask questions regarding our priorities and humanity. It is not exciting enough to be the massive blockbuster we are all looking for. At a time where so many movies do not offer depth, Arrival will have you leaving the theatre asking questions after it takes you on its rather robust adventure.