Friday, November 11, 2016 marks the official theatrical release of Arrival, the science fiction drama written by Eric Heisserer (Lights Out, Final Destination 5), and directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Incendies). Nerd Nation Magazine was in attendance for the early press screening Monday, November 7, 2016 courtesy of Paramount Pictures, Allied Marketing, and Regal Cinemas.
How did the highly anticipated sci-fi feature measure up? Is it worth the price of admission? Read on below the cut to see for yourselves!
Based on Ted Chiang‘s Nebula Award winning short story “Story of Your Life,” Arrival follows the story of Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams of Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) a linguist and college professor who, after several strange alien crafts arrive on Earth, is recruited by US Army Col. Weber (Forest Whitaker of The Last King of Scotland) alongside mathmatician Ian Donnely (Jeremy Renner of The Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, and basically everything else in the MCU) to investigate the landing site in rural Montana. and try to communicate with the extraterrestrial beings.
There are twelve spacecrafts in all, each located in a different, seemingly random place on Earth, and across the globe there is mass panic brewing, with some countries more aggressive than others. As the world stands on the brink of global war, Louise and Ian desperately try to understand the strange language of the aliens, and decypher what it is they want, and more importanly, if they’ve come in peace.
As they begin to decypher the strange alien writing, and slowly come to understand what it is the aliens are trying to communicate, we are taken very far down the rabbit hole in a mindbending, non-linear, and disorienting head trip. I won’t spoil anything, but I will say, prepare yourselves for a very strange experience.
The visuals are, as many would expect from a big budget science fiction film, very well done. The spacecrafts are stunning and look, for lack of a better term, very alien. The aliens themselves are imposing, otherworldly, and mysterious, very reminiscent of something out of an H.P. Lovecraft story, of which I’ve no doubt the original author was inspired by. These are strengthened greatly by fantastic cinematography, making some great use of aerial shots and lighting. The cast does an outstanding job, particualrly Amy Adams, who really shines above and beyond an already impressive cast in her leading role.
Just about the only negative thing I really have to say about this one is quite possibly the one thing that others may love about this film. It was very much a cerebral film, and was at times exceptionally hard to follow. The continuous shifts between time – from memory to present to future premonitions – was a major theme in this film, and may have jumped a little too much for general audiences to enjoy. To be completely honest, the non-linear aspect seemed a bit overdone here, and honestly felt like a chore to keep up with at times. Perhaps I’m just not the right audience for this movie, perhaps I’m just not smart enough to fully appreciate it, I don’t know. But I do know that I left this film feeling more exhausted than entertained. This is, of course, only one writer’s opinion.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Arrival is an exceptionally well made film, if a bit hard to follow. It makes no bones about being a thinking fan’s movie, and while many might see this as overreaching, many may also very much enjoy it. It’s an aquired raste, to be sure, and as stated above, left this writer more exhausted than entertained. If you’re into cerebral movies, this is definitely one for you… but if you’re not, you may want to skip it. Keep an eye on this one, too, because it’s sure to take home some Oscars! – 8.5/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine