Arrival was the movie on everyone’s lists for 2016. Everyone except me. Not because I didn’t like it, but solely because I didn’t have a chance to see it in theatres, despite numerous people telling me that I needed to witness it on the big screen. I don’t make it to the movies nearly as much as I did once upon a time for a number of reasons, but it usually involves me just missing it before it leaves cinemas.
Arrival arrived at my doorstep on blu-ray and finally gave me the opportunity to sit down and enjoy the film. Something I’ve been waiting to do for a few weeks now.
Many of you have seen it already but the basic synopsis of the story without spoilers is a language expert, Louise Banks, is brought in by the government to help aid the world in deciphering and translating an alien language after 12 ships land on earth.
Stakes are high as no one really knows why the aliens have arrived and the race is on to communicate and find out if they come in peace or if they’re here for something else entirely.
I’ve loved Amy Adams ever since her role in Junebug, way back in 2005, that earned her her first Oscar nomination. I loved her as Giselle in Disney’s Enchanted. I… less than loved her as Lois Lane in Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman but I don’t blame Adams for that one bit. I loved her as Louise Banks here in Arrival, despite the seriousness that surrounded the character.
I don’t want to make this review a comparison of films but one of my big problems with “smart female characters” is how they’re shown on screen. As Lois Lane, we’re never shown that she’s a smart character. We have to rely on being told continually that she’s smart, despite her actions contradicting this. In Arrival, however, Louise Banks is shown how I think these characters should be portrayed. Banks puts in the work, demonstrates her abilities, backs up her intellect and continually shows us that she is capable of thinking on her feet and applying her knowledge to the real world.
This may seem like a frivolous thing to take away from the film but after seeing women depicted in such a way for a long enough time, you start to pick up and appreciate when women are portrayed better.
As far as the other cast, I still don’t really buy Jeremy Renner in the role of genius mathematician, even after seeing in the film. He didn’t sell it for me, personally and not to say that he’s bad in the film but I definitely think there may have been other actors better suited to the role. That being said, he works fine and didn’t take me out of the film generally speaking but he also didn’t do a lot for me. Adams definitely could’ve held the role on her own, although I realize it is based on a book that I don’t really have any information on in terms of how it compares.
The special effects in Arrival are fantastic and I think it was an excellent decision to not make the spaceships anything overly intricate. There’s a certain beauty to how simple they are and shows you how advanced a species must be to travel in something that doesn’t outwardly appear to be a space travel vessel. The scenery around the ships is stunning as well, especially one particular scene where you see the morning clouds rolling in over the tree line towards the ship as Banks and the crew are first headed to the government site. The aliens too aren’t overly imagined and the effect really does feel otherworldly.
I loved how the creatures are depicted and how they wind up communicating with Louise and the others, which felt truly original and interesting. Maybe it has been done like that somewhere before but I haven’t seen it and I enjoyed it a lot.
The story is really what you’re here for though. While it IS a story about aliens, personal loss, the survival of the earth and the species on it… it’s also a story about communication and how language unites us and brings us together and how that itself can be our salvation.
Arrival Blu-ray Special Features:
- Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival – Featurette
- Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design – Featurette
- Eternal Recurrence: The Score – Featurette
- Nonlinear Thinking: The Editorial Process – Featurette
- Principles of Time, Memory & Language – Featurette
Must buy! Arrival is one of those films that’s totally rewatchable for a number of different reasons. As mentioned, the story, the acting and the cinematography are A+ reasons to make sure you watch it and have it in your collection for now and in the future.