Yes, yes, I KNOW — I’m very late on watching Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival. Now — this sci-fi film was heralded as one of the best 2016 had to offer. It even won an Oscar for Best Achievement in Sound Editing. This was a film with plenty of hype, so did it live up to the well-received critique?
Well, for the most part, yeah, the film was spectacular. That’s not to say it’s without faults, however.
Villeneuve is a director that slowly, but surely, is making a name for himself. Arrival is one of the more wonderfully shot films I’ve seen in the last decade, and it helps that Bradford Young (Selma, which was a very well-done film) was behind much of the cinematography. Young and our Canadian star director team up to bring to life an idea that is quite simple on the surface: 12 alien pods arrive to earth and scientists and military personnel around the world scramble for an answer to the question, “What is your purpose here?” Luckily, the U.S. military and Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) enlisted the help of Dr. Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist who had prior work with the military and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a scientist who’s damn good with numbers. The clock is ticking and pressure is mounting globally. Decode the heptapod language and find out all of the answers.
Our tale explores sci fi elements as well as human emotions. This film puts Amy Adams in one of her better roles, constantly giving her moments to shine. And shine she does. She’s also witty at times, as you can see below.
Dr. Banks deals with flashbacks throughout the film. These surreal moments constantly have her interacting with her daughter. From drawing coloring books to asking why daddy isn’t around, there’s clearly a struggle within Dr. Banks that the film decides to bring into focus. For the record, yeah, I choked up at one of the more serious, down-to-earth conversations the two shared.
Jeremy Renner took a backseat to Adams throughout the film and, honestly, felt like a non-factor in spurts. I don’t think this is on Renner, however, as much as this is the script playing to Dr. Banks, our main gal, as the focal point for Arrival. Still, Renner was the perfect scientific wingman to Banks.
The biggest drawback is the film’s ending. There’s a mind-blowing moment which ties the entire movie together in the third act — that’s fine. But goodness, Villeneuve, you needed to roll credits about 30 minutes earlier after the reveal. The movie doesn’t leave much to the imagination, either, and explains pretty much everything in the film. Not bad for most, but I like a little challenge with my sci fi from time to time.
There’s not much that already hasn’t been said about Arrival. The film is a goodie and, while I won’t be replaying this over and over (again, nothing left to the imagination), it’s one I’ll defend as among 2016’s best.