Film Review: Arrival
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★★★★☆ When 12 spacecraft suddenly touchdown in various places across Earth, US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) calls for the expertise of linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to try and decipher the alien’s motives. Looking at Arrival’s basic plot, it is easy to compare it to previous alien encounter films such as Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Burton’s Mars Attacks!, or Zemeckis’ Contact (the latter, in particular, has numerous similarities with it). However, Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival manages to differentiate itself thanks to its more intimate storyline and setting. It makes use of few locations and characters, letting Amy Adams shine as a linguistic expert still struggling with the death of her daughter. Although Jeremy Renner also gives a good, if underused performance as mathematician Ian, it is Adams’ subtle and warm turn that really helps the film feel more grounded and emotion-based rather than alien-based. It is true that Arrival doesn’t focus on the aliens (called Heptapods) but more on the big questions their appearance brings about. Would the arrival of aliens bring about a sort of anthropocentrism? Should we attack to protect Earth and humans, or wait and try to understand the Heptapods’ motives? Russia and China opt for the former option.
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