For decades people have asked ‘is there life in space?’. A question that has baffled scientists and others who have tried to explain the strange otherworldly visions we occasionally see. While we wait for answers, TV and films have capitalised on our fascination for the stars with a plethora of sci-fi films. ‘Arrival’ is the latest in a long line to speculate what would happen if aliens came to earth. It may not answer any questions but it’s a diverting movie sure to further make us wonder if we aren’t alone in this vast universe.
When an armada of spaceships land on earth, an elite team is sent to investigate. Among them are skilled linguist Louise (Amy Adams), mathematician Ian (Jeremy Renner) and army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). Unsure of what the new visitors want, the team attempt to appease the global powers who want war. Taking risks in order to prevent catastrophe, the trio walk into potential doom to ensure humanity has a chance of survival.
‘Arrival’ is an interesting film with an intelligent narrative. It isn’t the typical ‘laser fights and explosions’ sci-fi film, but a more cerebral experience. Through the central characters we feel their trepidation in facing the aliens. Moving through the months learning how to communicate in a different language, we follow their path to discovering the aliens’ motives. With a myriad of messages exploring the importance of team-work and openness, ‘Arrival’ embraces its many story layers.
It’s interesting watching how various nations react to the ships. From being worshipped to feared, their presence reveals a litany of human emotions. At times the sense of urgency the movie needs is missing. This is down to Denis Villeneuve’s leaden direction. ‘Arrival’ can be slow going with the glacial pace diluting the impact it needs. It’s just as well the performances and CGI are top notch which provide interest in spite of an occasionally muddled story.
‘Arrival’ isn’t the type of sci-fi film one expects although it engages. It requires viewer investment with a generally satisfying pay-off. Forcing its audience to think rather than sit back and watch a spectacle isn’t a bad thing with the ‘how would we handle the situation?’ question never far from mind.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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