For those who look for intelligence in their sci-fi over big guns and explosions, look no further than Arrival . Directed by the extremely talented Denis Villeneuve (the last film before his highly anticipated sequel to Blade Runner ) this is a film that will leave you entranced and still pondering over for days.
It’s the near future and Earth has just received first contact from alien life, in the form of a multitude of gargantuan ships simultaneously appearing at random locations across the planet. In the midst of a cultural panic Doctor of Linguistics Louise Banks (Amy Adams) finds herself carried away by the military alongside physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and is given the job of understanding this new alien language. From there it’s best left unsaid, but the film is enough to keep any viewer fascinated, if not by the plot than by the ideas powering it.
The story evolves with perfect pace. The characters are given time to develop, and more importantly time to think and plan, while the reveals and information is drip-fed with precision to keep the audience hooked. The filmmaking is superb, with Villeneuve once again proving he is one of the best blockbuster directors currently working, although the cinematography sadly doesn’t stand up to his past two projects. Amy Adams’ understated portrayal carries a majority of the film, turning what could be just dull exposition into believable realisations and bringing heart to later emotional scenes.
Despite all the talent on show the ending does fail to live up to what came before but is far from disappointing, veering away from the genuinely interesting into the over-the-top and ridiculous. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the film from being a fun and thoughtful experience.