Arrival (2016) Review

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When a group of alien aircrafts land in different parts of the world, the military enlists the help of a lonely linguistics professor named Louise to help. As Louise begins to try communicate with the visitors and decipher their language, she soon realizes they in a race against time and to discover what they are here for.

Not since films like Close Encounters of the Third Kind and E.T. have we seen films that don’t generalize aliens into the horror film genre. If you are looking for a thrilling War of the Worlds or even Signs type of alien film, this isn’t it. While some of those films can be entertaining to watch, it’s films like Arrival that are a huge breath of fresh air to the alien films. Arrival is a film that will engage, grip, and immerse you from beginning to end. What makes this film so engaging is watching our lead, played by Amy Adams, work her ass off to understand what the aliens are trying to say and what they want. You become gripped alone just by seeing her decode everything. But when the stakes are high, that’s when it becomes even more engaging. Then once it reaches the climax and everything comes full circle, you’re completely mind-blown and find yourself thinking about the movie and it’s pretty deep themes after it’s over. The character of Louise is just as engaging in the sense that she’s one of the most real-feeling characters ever shown. She’s someone dealing with every day life, doing her job, and out of nowhere she’s thrown into this situation with no time to think it over and seeing how much of a toll it takes on her. But it’s watching this character develop throughout the film makes the experience just as worthwhile. To not give too much away about the plot, I was very much stunned. As the twist grows near, you find yourself gradually putting pieces of it together, so when it finally happens you are just in shock at how all of it makes sense. Denis Villenueve provides top-notch direction and an amazing and beautiful vision that really puts into this world and there with the characters. And not to mention the cinematography and score is gorgeous and so immersive that it too helps make you feel like you are there. Amy Adams delivers her best role so far (though this could very well be beaten by her role in next month’s Nocturnal Animals). The way Adams carries the character of Louise, as mentioned, is so realistic and she portrays Louise effortlessly as if Adams herself is just an ordinary being. And as Louise is put to work, we see the massive toll it’s taking on her and the moral dilemma she’s finding herself in. By the end of the film, it is Adams’ performance that also helps bring the character and her journey full-circle.

Arrival is the most immersive and engaging film you will see this year. Not only in terms of it’s story, but the beautiful cinematography, direction, score, and the dedicated performance by Amy Adams. I can’t stress enough how much I recommend this film.

5/5

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