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Arrival: The Words of the Worlds

November 16, 2016

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Arrival is a truly remarkable film because it is patient, smart and forgoes theatrics for small discussions. Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario) has created a science fiction treat that looks beautiful and tells a small story that features big ideas. I’ve love that the internet has fallen in love with Arrival because this is the type of film that could’ve easily slipped through the cracks and become an under watched cult classic. It is rare that a literate (based on a short story) and moderately budgeted ($47 million) science fiction film hits big and captures a lot of hearts.

Arrival focuses on 12 alien ships that have appeared in various areas around the world. There is no pattern to where they’ve landed and every 12(ish) hours their doors open to allow scientists or government officials to come inside in an attempt to communicate. Nobody knows why the aliens have appeared because there is no simple way to ask them or understand when they answer. That all changes when linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams = the best) and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) come in and begin to crack the alien language. From there, it is a race against the clock to prevent potential war and appease the millions of earthlings who are justifiably freaking out.

Villeneuve could’ve loaded Arrival with jump scares, probes and Jeremy Renner spin-kicking aliens. Instead, he and the director of photography Bradford Young (Selma) focus on jaw-dropping moments and beautifully staged set pieces. My favorite moment involves Louise and Ian entering the space ship for the first time. The moment plays with gravity and gives us a play-by-play breakdown of how people enter the towering ships. I think the moment is really important because it familiarizes us with the location and gives us a mental picture of the process so we know the journey they take each day.

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What I love about Arrival is how the pacing, themes and performances combine to form a thoughtful and patient experience. Giving more away would be a travesty so I implore you to go check out Arrival and immerse yourself in all its glory.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    November 21, 2016 4:13 pm

    This is my Ex-Machina for 2016. Wow!

  2. John Leavengood permalink
    November 21, 2016 4:14 pm

    I’m glad Renner held off on the spin-kicks. Those aliens may have had some sort of Heptapod-Fu. Imagine blocking a whirlwind kick with 7 giant tentacle legs coming at you!

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