Movie Review: Arrival (2016)

Why are they here?

** Spoiler alert – Will try to avoid spoilers as much as possible, but still be advised. **

I rarely go to movies to watch latest blockbusters and there are quite a few reasons for that. First, it’s not cheap. 6,10€ ticket for one person might not sound like a lot, but considering what you get in return, it kinda is. Torn seats, filthy floors, dirty movie screen with one big red/orange speck on it. I mean wtf? How could theater be that careless? This itself would ruin the whole experience for me, but fortunately movie was literally dark enough that it didn’t bother me that much. And of course people talking, eating, cell phones, …

arrival posterBut the whole demographic for this film was totally different. Even though it was three days after premiere and on Sunday, theater was 90% empty. Which is a shame because ** review spoiler ** movie is totally awesome, but it worked for me because there were no distractions. This of course wouldn’t work, if I went to see a shitty romantic comedy – you kinda need people there laughing to lame jokes, so you can laugh together with them 🙂

So what is Arrival? It’s a science fiction movie, based on a short story “Story of Your Life”. It stars Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, one of the best linguists in the country, who is recruited to do alien translation/communications. She works alongside scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and they need to figure out “Why are they here?”

And this is where I stop with plot. I came to the cinema with even less info and that’s how I like it. I just knew there will be aliens and that it’s supposedly good and “smart” science fiction flick (whatever that smart means). This is all I needed to know and that’s all I’m giving to you too.

Arrival was pretty slow paced considering that it’s a movie with aliens, but I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. The atmosphere, accompanied with an awesome score, made me feel of dread. I don’t usually have these kind of emotions watching fiction. At some point of the movie there was no sound at all and it was such a weird feeling. Even people who were eating popcorn stopped. Louise was asked, if she has problems with claustrophobia and all I could think about is how small this big theater room feels all of a sudden.

When they were meeting aliens for the first times, my heartbeat was probably around 150BPM. I was nervous how aliens will look like – I didn’t even know if we’re going to see them, or if it’s going to be the same as in Jodie Foster’s Contact (1997), where extraterrestrial beings took her father’s form, so we didn’t really see them. But it was good and totally believable.

I don’t like to watch movies multiple times, there are only several of those that are worth such a thing in my mind. But my first thought when credits started rolling was… Damn, now that I know the things I’ve learned, I have to watch it again! Knowing what’s going to transpire, I’m sure my view on the movie is going to be totally different watching the second time around. Thinking back now I can already appreciate all the little details and what I initially thought were just throw-away lines (but weren’t).

how would you communicate with aliens
How would you communicate with aliens?

Director is Denis Villeneuve and so far I haven’t seen any of his movies (I did add several on watchlist). But considering how good of a job he did with Arrival, I’m happy to discover he’s the one doing the new Blade Runner 2049. I think he’s going to be a better fit for Blade Runner universe than Ridley Scott is at this moment. Haven’t said anything about Amy Adams either. I mean, I like her. Seen her in bunch of comedies and dramas, but when I heard she’s in a sci-fi movie with aliens, I wasn’t that sure about it. But I’m totally sold on her now. (I wonder how Jennifer Lawrence will do in Passengers, hmm…)

I like puzzles, I like to be challenged and this film definitely provides this. If I can hop on the interwebz after watching a movie, to start reading and discussing theories, I’m a happy man. Even now, three days later I’m still thinking about Arrival. Will definitely pick up short story that this movie is based on and I’ll be watching Arrival again as well. But I won’t be paying 6,10€ to see that red speck again. Will wait for home release 🙂




Arrival (2016)

A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.

  • Rating 9