About – A dozen ‘pods’ nicknamed by the US military, land in random places across the world, from the Black Sea to Montana. Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is contacted by the military to help translate what the aliens are trying to say and ask “what is their purpose?”
Arrival isn’t your usual sci-fi, alien landing, action cliché film, it is a very sensitive brain teaser that touches on the issues of government language barriers and how the rest of the world react to something that arrives but does nothing.
Denis Villeneuve the director of the upcoming ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and last year’s spectacular Mexican drug cartel thriller ‘Sicario’ now he has landed with Arrival just months before the Oscars nominees’ release. Denis Villeneuve has brought us some of the best thrillers and brain thinkers from Prisoners to Enemy; Arrival is his new sci-fi thinker. Arrival touches of the questions that people ask everyday “are we alone?” “Is there others out there?” both terrifying if thought about enough. However Denis Villeneuve has brought us this amazingly shot and perfect score to find this communication that takes months to figure out that maybe just maybe we don’t have to be scared if something does come along to earth.
Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a university lecturer of languages that is work driven with nothing else in her life, you see this first instance when she goes back to work and the university is dissertated due to the arrival of the pods. When she does go home she is on the phone to her mother showing she is alone. She is approached by the military to come with them and find out what these pods and creatures want, they communicate by patterns of circles and symbols as their written language, Louise has to figure out what they are saying and want from earth.
Amy Adams is superb in this leading role, she shows the true struggles and heartache at what this job could do to someone. She is flawless in every single scene, unlike Ian (Jeremy Renner) who is a scientist that helps Louise with the task the military has set them. Ian doesn’t sell the same values as Louise does, you don’t get that on-screen relationship with him, he tries to be funny but doesn’t get the laughter that he is looking for. Jeremy Renner doesn’t look like he wants to be in this role it is possibly one of his worst performance with no emotion during the film that helps the audience connect with him. Ian and other side characters are your usual cliché sci-fi thriller roles, being hardcore with no care for anyone, whereas Louise has that care for everything and anyone even though she is on her own.
The meaning of Arrival is somewhat sensitive to the topic of listening to each other and not assuming the worst when something isn’t happening. With these pods arriving and obviously not talking in any world language it has to be broken down to create the simplest questions and answer. This is where the film is interesting, when Louise and Ian are talking to the creature; it is gripping on how this would work in reality and how Denis has made this happen for us to feel engaged with the creatures and Louise.
Otherwise there is nothing else to praise for Arrival as when the narrative leaves the pod they’re working out what the creatures are trying to say and the military and governments are arguing which is obvious in film like this. However it has already been done before and you can’t take that away from this type of genre and film.
Denis Villeneuve has worked with Jóhann Jóhannsson before in ‘Sicario’ & ‘Prisoners’. Without a doubt you know when Johann’s work is on-screen with the deep piano sequences and violin high pitches. He is the main composer for most of Denis’s work, he is the most underrated composer out there, he has the vision of where all of his music is being placed within the film and it works perfectly to capture the best viewing experience possible. Especially, when you first see the pods on a helicopter viewing the score is high pitched that is fast pace behind, with stunning cinematography by Bradford Young with the clouds pouring down the cliff side, this scene as described is stunning. It sets and completes the tone for the rest of the film with stunning visuals and beautiful melodies that make this film what it is, so perfectly besides everything else.
Overall, Arrival has been a big hit with critics and fans of the sci-fi genre; you can see why with everything that is going on. The performance from Amy Adams hold this film together and makes it what it is, other characters and performances are your usual people in these situations. The score and cinematography complete the work of what Denis Villeneuve set out to do and it works so well that this is what brings the popularity factor sky high on the new arrival of the pods.