Arrival begins with massive alien ships arriving at multiple places around the world. Contrary to most alien encounter movies, however, these ships arrive in rural, less populated areas than places like Washington, DC. As one could imagine, the United States military wants to find out the reason for the aliens’ visit to our planet: are they friend or foe? In an effort to determine the visitors’ motives, the government sends Col. Weber (Whitaker) to enlist the help of the premiere linguist in the country, Dr. Louise Banks (Adams), as well as mathematician Ian Donnelly (Renner). Their goal is to find a way to connect & communicate with the crew of one of these ships, and find out what they hold in store for humanity.
This film is a provocative look at communication – both symbolic & verbal. This message is most evident in two places. First, in the muted greyscale cinematography of Bradford Young, which creates an importantly haunting & dim feel throughout the movie. Second, in the mesmerizing score composed by Johan Johannson. Johannson’s ethereal music grabs the audience’s attention, and pulls us in to Louise’s emotions; and in doing so, it’s almost like the score whispers a reminder to pay attention, as things on screen may not be exactly what they seem.
Arrival is not the usual fast-paced action movie filled with over-the-top special effects. You won’t see a Ridley Scott “alien attacks world, alien meets girl, girl saves world” kind of experience. What you will see, however, is the celestial visitors acting as a catalyst in the professional & personal lives of the humans involved, while Col. Weber acts as a tool which prods the group into a much bigger picture. At its core, the film asks a profound question of its audience: How much awareness do you have of your own life?
Arrival is a must-see for those who enjoy thought-provoking cinema that stimulates the senses. However, if you’re looking for an action-oriented film with lots of explosions, this one isn’t for you. The film is rated PG-13.
This one is a solid 3 starships out of 5.