Arrival (II) (2016)
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Arrival finds strength in just about everything it is comprised of. It does this to such an extent, in fact, that it's almost impossible to break it down into individual pieces. Amy Adams is superb here, giving a subdued but deeply moving performance. A lot of the film rests on her shoulders for its twists and turns to stick the landing, but she carries it without breaking a sweat. Never given any big Oscar-esque moments, Adams tells Louise's story in her softest moments and through her body language. It's an astoundingly delicate performance. Renner is also solid, and accompanies Adams nicely, even if he can't help but feel woefully overshadowed. Louise as a character is the film's most exciting element - a woman that uses her knowledge and skills to change the world in ways it has never been changed before, all of which comes down to language. When Arrival ends, you will spend hours thinking about yourself and the language you speak and use every day. The potential behind this story was astronomical, and it delivers in spades.
Much like in his previous film Sicario, Villeneuve has created a masterful aesthetic in every way. The film's soundtrack, courtesy of the terrific Jóhann Jóhannsson, is a sublime array of thumping horn arrangements and softer pieces. The cinematography (by Bradford Young) is breathtaking, bringing in references and odes to other sci-fi classics (notably 2001: A Space Oddysey) but successfully acting as a perfect match to the tone of each sequence. The flashback sequences focused on Louise's young daughter look and feel like forgotten memories, while the moments inside the spacecrafts feel entirely alien. The production design is stunning, the large pitch black objects hovering over the cities feel instantly dark and foreboding, and the brief sights of the creatures we're given reveal something wholly original. In terms of technicalities and aesthetic, Arrival is a thing of beauty - a unique, visually resplendent film that you never want to take your eyes off of.
But where Arrival hits perfection, though? The emotion. The power behind the story, and the direction the story takes in its tremendous final act. This is what makes Arrival such a phenomenal film. It sets up a story (an already thought-provoking and well paced one, at that), and then smoothly transforms into something much bigger than you could ever have expected it to be. Another stroke of ingeniousness is that the film doesn't do this in one movement. Rather than drop one bombshell and change its direction, Arrival slowly sets up a series of events, then puts them in motion one by one, binding everything neatly around its central character. Y'know that feeling you get when an absolutely killer plot twist lands? Arrival will give you that feeling for the entirety of its final act. It is, of course, entirely possible to work out where it is headed. I did, as a matter of fact, and it just made the whole thing feel that little bit more special. You either work it out and watch as it comes to life before your eyes, or you cluelessly dedicate your time to its finale and feel mesmerised at each and every turn. Whichever you experience, it is wonderful.
Arrival is a film that feels thrilling in its own unique little way. When it ends, and you discuss it for hours (which is inevitable), you'll find yourself not focusing on the aliens. You'll be focusing on the emotional power of it all, on the human side of the story. I've deliberately left a lot out of this review, just to avoid spoiling the direction the film takes in its final act. The power behind the constant twists and turns is game changing; it proves that science fiction can be, despite what the name might imply, the most human genre to make a film about. Arrival has some stunning imagery and effects to play around with, but instead it focuses on language and conversation. It focuses on humanity and time and memory, and all that is worth fighting for on this planet. It is a breathtaking achievement, and one I already cannot wait to experience countless times again. In a year riddled with emotionless superhero films and crude comedies, Arrival is a godsend. Villeneuve has been on the verge of a masterpiece for the last few years, and he has finally landed it. Arrival is a film for the ages. Seek it out at all costs, and let it transport you across time and space only to bring you back down to Earth, evoking a feeling you may never have experienced before. This, people, this right here is why I adore cinema.
Because the trailer for "Arrival" belies absolutely nothing about the depth and complexity of the film. At face value, it looks like a dubious "Close Encounters" wannabe, with a threat of movement towards the likes of "Independence Day" and "The 5th Wave". Actually what you get is a film that approaches the grandeur of "Close Encounters" but interlaces it with the intellectual depth of "Inception", the mystery of "Intersteller" and a heavy emotional jolt or two of "Up".
Amy Adams ("Batman vs Superman") plays Dr Louise Banks, a language teacher at a US university facing a bunch of particularly disengaged students one morning. For good reason since world news is afoot. Twelve alien craft have positioned themselves strategically around the world, hanging a few feet from the ground in just the sort of way that bricks don't. Banks is approached by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) and offered the job of trying to communicate with the aliens: where did they come from? why are they here? Banks faces the biggest challenge of her academic career in trying to devise a strategy for communication without any foundation of knowledge on what level communication even works at for them. Assisted by Ian Donelly (Jeremy Renner, "Mission Impossible IV/V", "Avengers"), a theoretical physicist, the pair try to crack the code against a deadline set by the inexorable rise of international tensions – driven by China's General Chang (Tzi Ma, "Veep"; "24").
Steven Spielberg made a rare error of judgement by adding scenes in his "Special Edition" of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" showing everyman power guy Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) entering the alien spacecraft. Some things are best left to the imagination. Here, a reprise of that mistake seems inevitable, but – perversely – seems to be pulled off with mastery and aplomb. The aliens are well rendered, and the small scale nature of the set (I'm sure I've been in similar dingy waiting rooms in UK railway stations!) is cleverly handled by the environmental conditions.
But where the screenplay really kills it is in the emergence of the real power unleashed by the translation work. To say any more would deliver spoilers, which I won't do. But this is a masterly piece of science- fiction writing. The screenplay was by Eric Heisserer – someone with a limited scriptwriting CV of horror film reboots/sequels such as "Final Destination 5", "The Thing" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" – so the portents were not good, which just adds to the surprise. If I were to be critical, some of the dialogue at times is a little TOO clever for its own good and smacks of Aaron Sorkin over-exposition: the comment about "They have a word for it in Hungary" for example went right over my head.
Denis Villeneuve ("Sicario") deftly directs, leaving the pace of the story glacially slow in places to let the audience deduce what is going on at their own speed. This will NOT be to the liking of movie fans who like their films in a wham-bam of CGI, but was very much to my liking. The film in fact has very little exposition, giving you lots to think about after the credits roll: there were elements of the story (such as her book) that still generated debate with my better half on the drive home.
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are first rate and an effectively moody score by Jóhann Jóhannsson ("Sicario"; "The Theory of Everything") round off the other high-point credits for me.
An extraordinary film, this is a must see for sci-fi fans but also for lovers of good cinema and well-crafted stories.
(Agree? Disagree? Please visit bob-the-movie-man.com for the graphical version of this review and to comment. Thanks).
The Calamari People, who float in a room of steam, write in circles – which is apparently how they experience time. Without a beginning or end. They can see their lives in their entirety. And the Calamari People are here to give humanity a gift, we find out: Once you unlock their language and become fluent, you will experience time in the circular way they do. It's a lot like becoming fluent in French and suddenly realizing why the French love Jerry Lewis so much.
From the lack of character and character development to the way the story unfolds, the movie is like watching a real-time long shot of a grave digger digging a grave on the grayest of all days. It's morose and filled with dread. Monotone and monotonous. Shovel after shovel after shovel, and he never seems like he is getting anywhere.
The entire pic is filled with "music" that is just a bunch of low hums that underscore the dread and monotone. It doesn't give us a clue to how we should be feeling. And that's why I go to the movies, to feel. How about awe at seeing the spaceships? The joy and celebration of the first breakthrough of communication? Nope, we get tedium and low bassy hums.
Jeremy Renner plays a physicist who doesn't do any physics, and he nicknames the two Calamari People we see Abbott & Costello. Although you can't tell them apart, Abbott becomes my favorite character in the movie because he gets to die midway through and doesn't have to suffer through the rest of the film. Lucky Abbott.
Throw in voiceovers and flashbacks that we find out are really flashforwards because time is actually circular to Amy Adams, and you have a film that yearns to be so much more than the real-time gravedigging than it is. It's the type of intellectual pretentiousness I thought only the Nolans could put on the screen.
So many things in the movie make ZERO sense, just a few examples:
- The colonel expects the linguist to decipher some alien language that sounds like gwowodkgjdkgrowlhwkas on the spot from a dicta phone.
- Most important event in humankind and all decisions are taken by some random soldiers in the camp. President of the US or any politicians are never shown and take no role whatsoever in the story.
- Some "rogue" soldier (god knows how) gets his hands on explosives, avoids all controls, and expects to destroy with a few C4 charges a huge spaceship which defies the laws of physics.
- The way they "decipher" the alien random scrabbling are just completely arbitrary and laughable (aka there is no explanation on how anything is deciphered) but magically after a few months they have a full vocabulary with which they can have a conversation. In real history many real human languages based on actual letters (not random stains in the air) were a completely unintelligible until the Rosetta Stone was found with a key to understand them.
- The alien presence on earth is just nonsensical. They arrive, say that they have bought some "gift" to humanity because in 3000 years they will need help in return (for what?) and then they disappear in thin air without having accomplished anything.
- The attack by the Chinese general (again, no government exists, it seems that soldier can just do what the heck the want) is stopped by some phone call whose contents nobody bothers to explain.
- most of the movie is just going back and forth from the ship, zzzzzzzzzz
- The physicist is practically useless. He just sits around without giving any scientific contribution. His only role is to represent the love interest of the linguist. He could have been a janitor for all I know.
People saying that this is the best movie ever have probably never seen a movie in their life or have suffered a concussion. Proof of this is that, while we're still talking about 2001 a space odyssey after 40 years, in 3 months nobody will remember this onsensical, boring, badly written piece of garbage.
I love Amy Adams and think she is a great actress, and the first half of this films is suitably spooky, fully of mystery - but as soon as she gets in to the alien space ship and starts writing her name LOUISE, I just shook my head. Why is it so hard for Hollywood to write a decent script???
We spent YEARS deciding what to put on the side of the Voyager spaceship in case any sentient life forms discovered it, and used pictographs and hieroglyphics, but in this film the world's best linguist (allegedly) who knows Sanskrit (so therefore must know alien languages) just stands there and writes LOUISE in bad handwriting on a small white board and shouts her name whist enthusiastically thumping her chest!
That is how the English behave abroad, not how you make first contact with an alien race.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind did this so well with sound and colour, but here we just have a flip chart and a marker.
such a flippant regard for science makes all the rest of the film silly. People were laughing in the cinema when Ian started saying his name, and walking up and down 'IAN WALKS'. And then all of a sudden Lousie can recognise the word for time travel, which is a very complex concept, and all in the space of a few days.
Clearly the director and writer had a really great idea, and set up the world very well, but as soon at they go to the complicated bit - how do you actually communicate with an Alien from another planet who has no cultural references, then they bottled it and threw in a Voice Over from Ian, who we never quite worked out what he was there for. It's an old film making trick - if you are stuck thrown in a voice over that explains stuff.
They didn't even bother to try colours, or sounds, or lights, or music - just a white board and a marker and Louise has been writing in English, whilst round the world everyone will be writing in their own language and confusing the poor aliens.
And if you have got Forest Whittaker the Oscar winner in your film, for god's sake give him something to do! He has no purpose in this film, all his lines could be cut. Just have soldiers grab Alison and fly her to the space ship - give her the briefing in the chopper...
The director and writer should be forced to watch Close encounters of the third kind until they appreciate how pathetic their film becomes.
Such a shame. 8 out of ten for the first 30 minutes and 2 out of ten for the slow fart of the rest of the film.
Colonel: (out of the blue) It's been only two days
C: People are already demanding answers. Here, listen to this *plays audio recorder*
L: (still confused)
C: Well? Come on! What are they saying?
L: I'd have to be there; I can't translate from this.
C: You did it back then with Farsi insurgents!!
L: That's because I already knew the language (Duh!)
C: Ooohh, I see what you're trying to do here you sly girl... it's not gonna happen, this is not a negotiation!! (storms out)
And then they land a helicopter in her backyard to pick her up (so over the top!) after they find out that the second "expert" on their list gives an "incorrect" answer to a question that doesn't make sense: "what's the Sanskrit word for 'war' and its translation?" Isn't that asking the same thing twice? In any case, this was a clumsy way of introducing the theme of miscommunication. Apparently this Berkeley scholar was not aware that a word can have different meanings in different contexts/uses.
Louise is the only real character in this film; they decided to make everyone stupid and hollow just so she could look smart and layered. She's written to be more a translator between two known languages than a linguist. They really didn't know how to show a true linguist at work, so they decided to skim through the whole deciphering process by means of a montage rather than showing her actual process, which would have been far more interesting. You could say this is a film that only features sci-fi elements as a backdrop for a drama. Well, they should have advertised it as what it is!
Renner' character doesn't behave like a scientist, he's quite ignorant and shallow (but we're supposed to think he's smart because he scribbled some unintelligible stuff on the whiteboard). The only contribution he makes is incredibly contrived and unnecessary. He's there for two reasons: 1) to give presence to natural science, providing a counterpoint to Louise who represents the social sciences, 2) a plot device for the twist ending/love interest (by the way, who bought them falling in love? Nothing throughout the movie hints at a developing relationship. The ending was so cheesy).
Then the military is a bag of clichés: stupid, impatient, and reckless. And since when a colonel and a general make all the political decisions? The whole "let's unite and cooperate" message falls flat because it was so unrealistic. The right-wing nut-jobs sub-plot felt rushed and unnecessary. It's like they're trying too hard to take a political stance against everything that Trump represents, but it comes off really heavy-handed.
I'm not even going to bother with time "travel" paradoxes and contradictions about the presence/absence of free will, because I get that this is sci-fi and the plot is supposed to serve a greater message, in this case, the moral question that Nietzsche famously once posed:
"What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sight and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence' [ ] If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing: 'Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?' would lie upon your actions as the heaviest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?"
There were far better ways of exploring this question.
As for the cinematography, it was unnecessarily bleak, and the only memorable piece of the score is not even original; it was written by Max Richter years ago for another film and recycled here.
Unlike Villeneuve's previous works like Prisoners and Sicario, Arrival isn't a dark or twisted look at humanity. Instead, Villeneuve chooses to go for a lighter yet still serious tone with the mystery surrounding the arrival of the aliens. That is what makes Arrival so incredible. Villeneuve injects elements from Stanley Kubrick's 2001 to make the story not only visual stunning but also makes it very captivating. Arrival does not rely on conflict between the humans and aliens to keep you invested and entertained because Arrival is against that trope. Each time our characters interact with the aliens, who remain covered in mist for most of the screen time, we as the audience gain something new in the form of knowledge and discovery rather then an action set piece. And when we return back to the outside world, we see through the media how each discovery affects it in different ways.
The characters are one of the reasons why this film works. They are not treated as cliché plot devices but are just real people who just want answers to this situation. Amy Adams truly is the star of this film as she carries this film with a sense of gravitas but also vulnerability. She shows a woman who is at first terrified from meeting the newly arrived aliens but gains strength when she learns more. Flashbacks to a tragic event also reveal the struggle she goes through especially as the fate of the world is on her shoulders. Jeremy Renner does a good job as a physicist with a dry sense of humor. Forest Whittaker is also great a the general who isn't a trigger-happy idiot but someone whose job is just to get answers in order to find the safest and most humane solution possible.
Arrival is a film that is more then just about language. It shows how divided we are as a species as each nation and culture interprets the alien's language in different meanings. And from this lack of clear understanding it creates fear and paranoia that could lead to global war. But Arrival shows that despite the mystery that surrounds the unknown, the future can be just as hopeful and bright as it might be scary and we should approach it with confidence.
This has proved Denise Villeneuve has range in genre as a director. I look forward to seeing him continue his work in the sci fi genre with Blade Runner 2.
The common type dates back to Buck Rogers and has more modern iterations in Star Trek and Star Wars. Action and mayhem.
The other type, the "smart" or intellectual type, is harder to classify. It has been around forever but appears and disappears randomly. Consider the DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951/2008) or CUBE (1997) or the more recent MARTIAN (2015).
The second type is an oddity because most of the heavy lifting takes place in your brain, not on the screen.
I consider ARRIVAL the best example of the "Smart" genre ever done.
These films, because they are so subjective, require a central character that the viewer can identify with. Ms. Adams deserves special merit for picking this film up and carrying it to the finish line.
A must see, for fans of "smart" scifi.
Although "Arrival" is set up like many other Sci-Fi films with a doctor being needed by the government to do some top secret work to save human kind, it is not a traditional Sci-Fi film. Being Denis Villeneuve's first leap into the Sci-Fi genre "Arrival" is a story of self-reflection which is helped along by an alien presence. For no particular reason 12 alien ships land all over the planet in seemingly random locations. The only true form of communication takes place from a single opening in the bottom of the alien vessel, where Linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is tasked at trying to open up dialog with the visitors. Physicist Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) is tasked with finding out how the alien vessel is capable of travel through space and how it seemingly defies gravity. The real question however remains in not how the aliens got to earth, but why?
What sets this film apart from others in the genre is the way that it plays with the notion of time, love and the essence of being human. Which is showcased in director Denis Villeneuve and writer Eric Heisserer's effortless ability to jump from time and place. While trying to discover what the Aliens are, and their motivation, Dr. Louise Banks discovers what makes herself human and questions everything held sacred to her. "Arrival" is just as much a film about aliens landing on earth, as a film about self-discovery and the value placed on love and loss. Dr. Banks although participating in some of the most ground breaking work a linguist could ever be involved in, is haunted by the tragic loss of her daughter. This coupling of discovery and loss is reflected perfectly in the acting performance of Amy Adams who is often torn between several emotions throughout the film.
Just as in his previous movies "Sicario" (2015) and "Prisoners" (2013) Denis Villeneuve employed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson who created an eerie and often unsettling composition for "Arrival". The sound pairs perfectly with the strange other worldly images of the aliens and their craft, the composition adds another layer of complexity to the already foreign and creepy world that is the alien craft. Visually the film is fantastic with an expert play on light and dark imagery, and the very deliberate use of color to emphasize certain characters and events. This transfers into the shadowy and smoke filled environment inside the alien vessel as well as the ink like Rorschach style alien writing. The visual effects used in Arrival give a sense of other worldly presence making the ship look as if it were a great technical feat of some unknown civilization, yet at the same time look organic as if were merely plucked from the surface of some far off planet. The aliens themselves look as if acquired from a Guillermo del Toro set, they are octopus like with long tentacle arms and gunmetal gray coloration, which begs the question of how a creature like this could have the dexterity to craft a sophisticated vehicle.
The film comes together to create a package of visual, intellectual and audible bliss. The composition of Jóhann Jóhannsson is second to none and at times the sound plays a critical character in the film. The cast with inclusion of Michael Stuhlbarg and Forest Whitaker (2 actors not really know for Sci-Fi) was a welcome addition. The dynamic between Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner seemed organic and a hallmark of great acting. But the stand out performance was that of Amy Adams who played a truly troubled and conflicted character.
In "Sicario" Vileneuve finished the movie with unanswered questions and left a lot to the imagination. In "Arrival" the film ended with a perfectly packaged ending that felt too neat and tidy. The film went into some sophisticated ideas that dived into the essence of humanity, yet did not give the same license for abstract thought with the conclusion. Ultimately Arrival is not just an exploration of alien beings, it's an exploration at what makes us human, and the positive and negative aspects that are associated with that humanity.
Firstly, to put your mind at ease, I won't be analysing the plot, thus avoiding the use of spoilers. This decade, Villeneuve has crafted some fantastic works of art in the form of 'Prisoners', 'Sicario' and now this science fiction gem, and here's hoping his career further develops with more movie masterpieces coming our way. In a world where mysteries remain and the possibility of extraterrestrial life still stands unanswered, 'Arrival' approaches this with it's cliché-free take on the genre.
The relatively unknown Bradford Young provides the film with some of the most stunning cinematography ever conceived, taking advantage of the twilight hour to give the film its somewhat unique look, supported magnificently by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson whose score is both haunting and beautiful. If you're someone looking for a science-fiction tale that keeps you guessing and thinking throughout, with fantastic performances, cinematography, music and near-flawless direction, then 'Arrival' is the film for you. The masterpiece of 2016!
From visually stimulating scenes to an unexpected score masterfully composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson you recognize at once this is a thinking film you'll long remember.
One scene in particular features a cloud that took my breath away. Sure, the extraterrestrial vehicle was amazing, but that cloud... As a photojournalist of nearly fifty years, I was stunned at the lifelike character of the cloud and suspected it was real, though I knew that was impossible; you can't cue Mother Nature when it's time to roll. I wanted to praise the CGI team for the effect, but Shawn Levy confirmed it was natural. They had set up to shoot this wide shot, worried about impending rain, or too much wind, or the lighting being too dark for the right effect, but the cloud wanted to become a star that day, and it rolled into frame with absolute perfection. This scene alone is worth a nod to Bradford Young for best cinematography.
The special effects team delivered, too.
Amy Adams performance was stunning. Sci-fi is largely disregarded when awards are passed out, but if the Academy neglects to acknowledge Adams work in this film, I may boycott them forever. Adams is Oscar-worthy for a Best Actress nomination for her character of linguist Dr. Louise Banks in this one, though Meryl Streep will most likely take it for Florence Foster Jenkins.
It is clear the five years taken to bring this story to the screen were well worth the work.
Ten well-deserved stars for ARRIVAL. I wish it a huge success at the box office so this team will continue to make more films of this caliber.
Every now and then however, we get a film like Denis Villeneuve's Arrival that comes along and offers something totally different. The film uses its tagline "Why are they here?" quite literally to deliver one of the most fascinating films you will see all year.
Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is one of the world's leading linguists, who gets recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications. Along with mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise attempts to get answers as to why twelve alien spacecrafts have landed at different locations around the world.
I had only seen three of Denis Villeneuve's previous films before yet I have been impressed with the diversity of his films, a trend he continues with Arrival. What I really admire about Villeneuve as a filmmaker is the choice he makes to not spoon feed the audience with every single piece of information. He instead makes films to challenge the audience, leaving them to either complete the puzzle themselves or question the morality of his characters.
With Arrival, Villeneuve has crafted a truly thought provoking science fiction film, telling the story in a slow yet masterful manner, leading to a beautiful pay off. The theme of communication resonates massively with the world today, the moment communication between twelve countries via satellite link breaks down summing it up quite suitably.
Villeneuve's storytelling is aided by some superb cinematography from Bradford Young and a haunting score from Jóhann Jóhannsson. Young's cinematography captures the sense of wonder perfectly while Jóhannsson's score heightens the sense of mystery surrounding the alien visitors and their intentions.
Coming to the performances, Arrival features a real emotional heartbeat thanks to a fantastic performance from the always dependable Amy Adams, who conveys such a wide range of emotions as Louise, growing in confidence with each session she gets with the visitors. Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker offer some fine support for Adams but there is no doubting this film belongs to her.
Arrival is one of the best films of the year and a really great example of science fiction filmmaking from Denis Villeneuve, who is perfectly suited to bring us the sequel to Blade Runner next year. I would happily put this film in the same league as something like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of the all time greats of sci-fi.
Nevertheless, this movie fails at everything it intends to do, it is ridiculously predictable, except for them the timing of events, there is some hopscotching of a few scenes, that in the end only adds the thought provoking question of whether to make a baby or not knowing the baby's future, being a father it is not an easy question, but that adds nothing to this Sci-Fi movie, it would have been better used in another movie context.
Almost 2/3 of the way through the movie is already resolved and utterly boring. Honestly, did anyone think they would not be able to communicate with the aliens ?? Did anyone really think the scientist was not going to end up with the translator ?? Did anyone really think that having alien ships spread across the globe was not going to bring us to the brink of war or force humans to cooperate ??? (this movie actually does both), Did anyone really think that the bomb was not predictable, and worst of all, it was not even properly justified in the plot, I mean, two soldiers, of what I suppose are elite teams surrounding the alien spacecraft, see this video of a guy ranting about the aliens and become motivated to endanger all mankind, just by seeing this video ??? Absolutely and completely not believable. Did anyone really think she would change the future ???
Truthfully, this movie has a good starting concept, but all of its implementation, development, which there is little of it, is rustic, basic and downright bad.
Watch the trailer, has the best bits, don't waste your money.
Really, I'm still wondering what was the point of this movie, I can't believe there are people calling it a masterpiece, it's really really bad !!!!!!!
So very wrong.
I don't thank I'm revealing any spoilers, but just in case, i'll say it now.
The movie is about a linguist brought in to try and communicate with aliens that have appeared around the globe. And that's it. You would think that if she was successful there would be huge implications and if she was not successful there would also be huge implications. In the end, there were no implications - she wrote a book. And the book had no impact on the world either. The end.
This is why I'm such a happy Netflix customer. I can give the movie half an hour to get going and when I realize that it's going to be a stinker (aka Fury) I can stop it and move on to something else. In this case, I was trapped in a sold out theatre. When it was done everyone just quietly filed out. I'm pretty sure its because, like me they were trying to figure out what the point was and how they got tricked into watching it.
I'll give it a star though for the music score.
I don't usually write negative reviews, because I like to spend my time and my words on the movies that I love and not on the movies that I hated. But since this movie has such a high score on IMDb (more than 8!) and some people are calling that crap "a masterpiece" I felt forced to write something about it.
Science-fiction movies are not my favorite, but if they are amazing, I can really love them. I loved Blade Runner, Alien, Matrix, and Interstellar, to name a few. Those movies are masterpieces!
Arrival is pretentious, depressing and super boring, and, as somebody said over here, it has more holes than a Swiss cheese. The script has many flaws, and nobody seems to notice that. We are not stupid, you know? The "aliens" (those ridiculous giant squids with elephant skin) say that they need the humans every 3,000 years. Why? Nobody bothers to explain that. Then, a professor who speaks many languages is supposed to translate the "language" of these aliens that sounds, as somebody also said over here, something like "jfhjkdfgkdkjhakjagfjgfhj". So ridiculous!
All the characters -with the exception of the one of Louise- are completely empty. And we only feel for her because in the beginning her daughter dies, but she becomes quite annoying with her suffering face and her mascara on her eyelashes (who would bother to paint her eyelashes on a moment like that?). Who are the other characters? a bunch of "nobodies", and we really don't feel for them. In a moment I thought: if the aliens kill all these people, who is going to care? The future-husband: is he a physicist? his role is completely superfluous. Then: the "bad guys" are, of course, China, Russia and other anti-American countries, who decide to cut off the communication and attack the aliens. Boooooooh!
Some people say that this movies is deep and "intellectual". Well, if you want deep and intellectual, go read some philosophy books, and don't waste your time on a stupid pseudo- intellectual-pseudo-moral-and-pseudo-science-fiction movie.
Arrival is so boring that I got really distracted by Amy's ugly and pointy nose. I almost fell asleep and I never ever fall asleep in movies.
So, at the end, what did these aliens do? They almost caused the Earth's destruction and "blessed" Louise by making her learn their language, which makes her see the future -like a curse-, and know the horrible death of her daughter as a teenager. Such a treat!
I would give "Arrival" a 2, but since the music was good I give it a 3. If this movie wins any award at the Golden Globes or at the Oscars, we can say that Americans finally lost their sense of good cinema and art. Greetings from Madrid!
The story was feeble: bunch of aliens turn up and they're not awful, but want to teach us how to help ourselves. They communicate with squiggles that only Any Adams can decipher. Oh and somehow she manages to save the world by spontaneously speaking Mandarin.
The plot holes are simply too numerous to mention: the way in which a random academic is simply allowed to run the operation is not credible, the dialogue is wooden (and clichéd). The acting is lame. The special effects are so so. The aliens are laughably bad.
The editor must've been on strike when they brought the footage in since he left in oodles of material that could easily be left out (if I see another floating, cloudy scene of an obscured heptapod, I think I'll retch). The cameraman also had an off day and the director, I hope, will soon be looking for other work in the film business -- perhaps he can sell the popcorn, since he's clearly not up to the job of telling a story.
All that said, the other reason I am stunned is that, at the time of writing, this film has an 8.4 rating on IMDb and the showing that I attended was sold out (although some folks wisely didn't bother to take their seats).
For me it was 116 minutes of my life that I'll never get back. For someone else, this is a film of genius. I guess that life would be boring if everyone liked the same stuff.
This is simply yet another example of a filmmaker trying to awe us with the CinemaScope because there's next to no story line there!
Her co-star appears to have no purpose except to stare at her in awe, while she stumbles around and experiences flashback after flashback of supposedly meaningful memories? of her daughter. Oh, yeah, she's so awe-inspiring that he can't help but fall in love with her.....gee, didn't see THAT coming!
I'm not bashing Amy Adams, as to spend and entire two hours pulling out endless facial expressions of confusion and sadness, alternating first one, then the other, surely takes great skill.
Truthfully, the leap between her being selected to talk to the aliens because she was simply a renowned linguist with an old pre-existing security clearance to, "oh, yeah, actually she is the only person ON EARTH who is clairvoyant", defies imagination. Give me a big fat break, and start putting out movies with substance, and quit counting on "jump on the band wagon reviews" to pump your attendance records!
Ask anyone who attended this movie, "Would you bother to watch it again?" I think not!
That's not all! When you get to the actual stage that you wish that real aliens would just blast you with a ray gun to end the misery of watching Arrival...it ends. It's not a joyous occasion, I mean yes you are thankful the film has ended but it plummets even further into dire and mediocre pit of misery and despair. It is finally ascertained that the squid have a tool or gift for humanity. Upon the discovery that the squid will do us a favour and will return in a mere 3000 years to ask for our help in return. This is the best bit...oh sweet lord...the squid and their giant pebbles dissolve like fizzy tablets. They give us nothing...and to be honest most of us will be dead in 3000 years...so we'll worry about that when we get to it. The main protagonist is then seduced by a smooth talking scientist who breaks the ice by saying "Wanna make a baby?". You try that...please. Go up to a lady you fancy in a location of your choosing and blurt out the immortal words "Wanna make a baby?". She will either have you arrested or will destroy you were you stand. Either way I wouldn't consider it solid dating advice.
I would like to conclude by saying please listen to my mad ramblings and don't watch this movie. If like me, you enjoy Sci-Fi there are dozens of better films out there. Arrival is not original, the story line is weak, the monsters are dire and their ships are dreadful. I am a massive Forest Whittaker fan and the man is still a legend. Only two questions I would like to ask him...Why did you choose to be in arrival? & when is Blood Sports 2 going to be made?
If there was zero stars I would have given it. Total waste of time and money.
I have seen lots of B movies with better scripts than this,It is a shame such films keep coming and there's no law against this.
I was anxious,I love alien movies of all kinds and I'm not picky I can get past a thing or two in the name of "art" but this movie is wrong on so many levels it's not even funny.
Just imagine the world resources(money) wasted on this joke !
So here comes the spoil !
The aliens are 5-pod squids that communicate squirting ink circles in a tank ! OK, there must be something else ... sure there's the hero translator chick and guess what,the squids know the future and they came to ask for humanity help in some matter !
That's IT this is the whole movie in a few words, oh and some gravity manipulation in the beginning , THAT'S ALL FOLKS.
So , you have an infinite more advanced alien species with understanding of space-time the humanity may never have but they chose to come to earth at the said date and just sit there till some chick reads their squirted ink in the fish tank! no radio, no math ,no lights , no no no , they just squirt ink and hope the inferior race that is humanity will understand what they want.
Well this is dumber than dumb&dumber 2 !