Arrival Review


Rating: 4.5 out of 5


Arrival is a 118 minute linguistics lesson that is so much better than it sounds. It is an unexpected gem that provides audiences with not only two focussed performances from Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, but a twist ending as imaginative and unpredicted as The Sixth Sense’s or Planet of the Apes’ final scenes.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), an esteemed linguistics professor and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist, are called upon by the U.S. government when 12 spaceships unexpectedly begin hovering over earth. With the world on the verge of war, Banks and Donnelly must race against time to figure out how to communicate with the aliens and answer the highly sought-after question, ‘What is your purpose on Earth?’

I was most impressed with this movie by how well it was able to hold my attention. The basis of the film sounds uninspired and the alien aspect seems timeworn, but not one facet of the film felt monotonous in any way. From the heartbreaking start of the movie, where we see Banks lose a loved one to a rare form of cancer, to the twisted? ending, I was on the edge of my seat, anxious for what was to come.

Aside from the well-thought-out storyline, I enjoyed the movie because it forced me to think. Movies are often thought as a medium to blatantly convey an idea or emotion, but in movies like Arrival, the filmmaker goes the extra mile to give us surreal moments that force us to contemplate things greater than ourselves. It also comes at a time where our world, let alone our own nation, is so polarized that it is difficult to communicate with one another. Although that might not be the message director Denis Villeneuve was trying to get across, there is a lot this movie is saying for those willing to listen. Most of the information in the movie was handed to the audience, but it’s our job to put it together and fill in the blanks, which makes for a great, thought-provoking film, when it’s done as well as it is here.

The dialogue was realistic and the cinematography, at parts, was stunning, but I found the “war on aliens” aspect to be a bit cliché. This was the primary, if not only, weakness in the movie.

In a time when two blockbusters are released each week, this movie will probably be overlooked. However, I would urge you: rather than looking forward to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them or Moana, take a moment to appreciate this movie, then appreciate future movies in their respective time.