Arrival: A Review

The film Arrival, which came out on November 11, 2016, is a must-see movie for science fiction enthusiasts. Receiving 8/10 stars on IMDb, this movie has a creative way of taking on a classic sci-fi theme: aliens arriving on Earth, and the worries and speculations that come with them. In Arrival, twelve spacecraft suddenly appear, each hovering over different, seemingly random locations. The movie follows linguistics professor Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, as she is given the task of learning how to communicate with the aliens.

The way director Denis Villeneuve creates the setting and theme of the movie is brilliant. As the movie progresses, you slowly learn that what you see in the opening shots of the film is not what you should assume as true. As the plot unfolds, the film comes full circle by the end and creates an “ah-ha” moment for the viewer. Encompassing the plot is the theme of communication, a simple concept becoming a tense topic of discussion with the added drama and pressure of the world unsure of what those in the spacecraft really want.

First meeting with the arrivals (Photo: Jan Thijs - © 2016 Paramount Pictures)

First meeting with the arrivals (Photo: Jan Thijs - © 2016 Paramount Pictures)

Another one of Arrival's strengths is that the use of CGI is not overdone. This is more of a drama than an action film, which is not something every sci-fi film can boast. It is a movie that makes you think, making you unable to predict what will happen next. With most scenes taking place in practical sets among human beings rather than digitally created creatures and worlds, the drama and the unpredictably feel even closer.

Arrival is a masterful telling of how we communicate and how being open and learning from others — in this case, aliens — can lead to enlightenment. The film's subplots — coping with loss, understanding the ways our actions affect the present and the future, and the mounting pressure the world's governments are under to uncover the reason for the aliens' arrival — expertly add to the intensity and thought-provoking nature of the film. Furthermore, these subplots only add to focus of the film and the problem that the characters are solving: how to communicate, whether it be with each other, or with the aliens.

Two thumbs up!

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The Stream Team: Sci-Fi