Years ago a man once said space was the final frontier. Because of that, mankind has always had a fascination with it, and like everything else, we want to conquer it. That love of space and the beyond has spilled into movies from the fifties like “The Day the Earth Stood Still” all the way to 2014’s “Interstellar”. When aliens are involved it seems they usually want to destroy the world, or warns us of the path that our mistakes will take us. Whatever the reason we are given for the visit, a great Sci-fi film will capture the minds of all who see it. That is what you want in a Sci-fi movie, one that will make you ponder our existence and question what we could be, that is something we don’t always get. Some movies want to be that, but come up short, but a movie like “Arrival” sores above that goal.
Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist at a local college. Her life along with the rest of the world changes when twelve objects land in different places around the earth. It doesn’t take to long before she is asked to help translate the unique communication they are receiving from those who occupy the objects from Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker). She is taken to Montana where the object is located and brought up to speed on what is known about them. Everyday a team goes inside the object and at the same time two aliens appear, so far they haven’t gotten far in understanding them. Enter Louise and Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), who is a scientist, and with Louise are America’s best hope to know what they have come for.
“Arrival” is written by Eric Heisserer off a short story from Ted Chiang called “Story of Your Life”, and is a film that will make you think. There are no lasers, only communication, as the script brilliantly uses mistrust and fear of the unknown. With a strong story, director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario), lets it be the center of attention, where it belongs. Villeneuve lets it unfold in long sequences, letting everything set in and linger at a perfect pace. With everything in place, it’s up to the actors to bring it all home. The cast does just that, and this by far is as good a performance you will see all year from Amy Adams. There is just a way she commands the screen, in a way that is mesmerizing to behold. “Arrival” grabs your attention early and never lets it go, as the story unfolds, it will make you think after it ends. It’s not strictly the Sci-fi part that makes you think; it’s the reaction by the people and countries involved that will. In a time it seems that a movie is judged by how many explosions it has, “Arrival” wants you to ponder as well as to be wowed. The bar for a movie like this always changes, as something comes out that makes others around them react, to sum it up in simplest terms, others have to step up their game. “Arrival” is not just a great Sci-fi movie, it’s one of the great films of this year, period.