Arrival Movie Review: A different breed of Sci-Fi!
It is impossible to talk about Arrival for me without talking about Dennis Villeneuve first. He is one of the best directors working today out there and his work strengthens that fact. Incendies (2010) remains one of the best dramas for me where foreign language films are concerned. Then there was Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), Sicario (2015) and now with Arrival, Villeneuve has made another strong statement where his directing prowess is concerned. With such a line up of brilliant movies, Dennis Villeneuve has a very bright future indeed. With Arrival, Villeneuve tackles a different genre i.e. sci-fi, and nails it like a boss.
Arrival starts with Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a language expert, being asked to work for the military by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) on a mysterious extra-terrestrial spacecraft which has set itself in Montana and there are 11 other spacecrafts on 12 different locations all over the world. She would be accompanied by a reputed mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and together they have to find out two simple answers; one, why the aliens have chosen earth as their location and second, what are their intentions. But talking to them doesn’t come easy as the aliens have a very complex written language which is almost impossible to decode. On the backdrop, different nations are having different perspective about this arrival and a tension is arising w.r.t the fact that a war is probable. With time running out, Louise along with Ian try to unlock the language and try to understand what the aliens are up to.
Dennis Villeneuve ups the mystery quotient here and keeps it taut till the end, an end which will stun most of you. The screenplay is more of a slow burner but it gives the vibe of urgency at the same time as we don’t know what to make of the understanding both the leads are acquiring. We can’t actually grasp what is going on and where all this will end and this makes it more interesting. Dennis does a marvelous job of shifting scenes from present day to where Louise is having strange visions. I’ve always trusted Villeneuve when it comes to capturing the scenes well. There has always been this distinctive visual flair in all his movies and Arrival is no exception. Bradford Young does a terrific job as the cinematographer and add the beautifully haunting music by Johann Johannsson, and you got yourself a winner! Arrival comes out as another feather in the cap for Dennis.
Talking about performances, Amy Adams is an absolute blast in the lead. It is a treat to watch her as she shines up in every frame. She portrays the lonely but extremely passionate explorer fantastically. Jeremy Renner is commendable and brings out the witty quotient (which he does brilliantly as Hawkeye) in the movie. Forest Whitaker is also good in the supporting role of the Colonel who monitors the whole process of decoding the other-worldly language.
Arrival is an intelligent take on the alien-invasion genre and Dennis Villeneuve serves up the sci-fi flick in the most presentable manner to the audience. It is more brainy than you’d expect and has deeper themes of family, loss, politics and importance of communication. Though the balance is shaky when it comes to fusing a sci-fi film with strong human drama, the end result is nevertheless satisfying. When all is said and done, when the credits roll and you are gut punched by the twist in the end, Arrival comes out as another brilliant work by Dennis Villeneuve, and a sci-fi gem to be remembered in a long time to come.