WASHINGTON, November 13, 2016 — Unlike the average sci-fi film, “Arrival” focuses on an alien species arriving on Earth to give the planet a hand with the hope that Earth would return the favor in 3,000 years. Based on the short work of fiction entitled “Story of Your Life,” the film is a blend of startling twists and turns and great visual images. The film is directed by Denis Villeneuve of recent “Sicario” fame.
Starring Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, a master linguist, the film follows her path as she is called upon by the government in the hopes she can communicate with the aliens. Assisting Adams’ character in this effort is Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a quantum physicist. In turn, both Banks and Donnelly are being watched over by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), who is tasked with determining whether the aliens are actually posing a threat to the country as well as learning the real reasons behind their surprise arrival.
Banks begins her interaction with the aliens by teaching them rudiments of our language, beginning with basic words before gaining enough common vocabulary to get Weber’s questions answered. During her time with the aliens, she begins to experience strange dreams, somehow realizing they are visions of the future. Throughout the film, incidents seem to get turned on their collective head, leaving moviegoers to question what is really going on.
Unlike most science fiction films, fighting and action scenes take a backseat in this one, replacing mayhem with intelligence, leaving audiences with something to think about after the credits roll. Amy Adams’ performance in this film more than makes up for her lackluster performance in “Batman v. Superman” earlier this summer, given her emotional portrayal of Banks in this film with emotional and intellectual depth, becoming in the process the driving force behind the film.
In the end, Denis Villeneuve delivers a great film with considerable emotional and intellectual depth, though it may disappoint some science-fiction filmgoers for its lack of hyperkinetic action sequence. Given its strengths, however, it may be a strong contender for Best Picture Oscar.