The film “Arrival,” directed by Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario”, “Prisoners”) opened on Friday, Nov. 11, to packed theaters.
“Arrival” is about a world-renowned linguist [Amy Adams], “American Hustle’ who is asked by the U.S. military to find a way to communicate with the mysterious extra-terrestrials who have landed in rural Montana — one of twelve spots around the globe. It is up to her and her team comprised of a theoretical physicist (Jeremy Renner, “The Hurt Locker”, “American Hustle”) and army commander (Forest Whittaker, “The Last King of Scotland”) to find answers as to why the extraterrestrials have come to earth and what it is that they want.
The fact that the film was science fiction made me wary at first — such films are usually devoid of deeper meaning and are rarely thought-provoking — but my worries were soon shattered following the first 15 minutes of the film. This film shows the true potential of the genre if not the potential of film itself. I’ve always believed that film — like good literature an be a medium to provoke thought, and that is exactly what this film has done. In a previous article, I berated a film for using sloppy and careless narration work; this film shows how narration should be used universally.
Adams’ and Renner’s performances were stellar thanks to their skill in conjunction with Villeneuve’s superb direction. However, I don’t think either individual performance is necessarily award worthy. It simply isn’t that kind of film. No one performance stands out just as no one member of an orchestra stands out. Each individual performance comes together to make the beauty that is the finished product.
The film is presented well, and the cinematography is beautiful and meaningful. Villeneuve did a fantastic job of directing pace and camera. When Adam’s character meets her team, we feel as if we are in just as rushed of a situation as she is. We live vicariously through Adam’s character and feel almost all the emotion that her character does.
In my opinion this is one of the best films of the awards year so far. I will not jump the gun and say it’s the best film of the year, however. I will say this is one of the best science fiction films that I have seen in a very long time. This brings the thinking person’s sci-fi to the forefront. I hope it’s a move that other science fiction films will make in the future.
That being said, I think that the film makers achieved their goal of making an entertaining, well-paced film that also makes the view really think about what is happening. It is rare that films achieve both of these features and especially rare for a science fiction film. I give this film a 9/10 overall.