Monday, November 14, 2016

Arrival

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Running Time:1 hour, 56 minutes 
Rating: PG-13

It wasn't until a few years ago that I got into the sci-fi film genre. "Aliens," "Interstellar," and "Gravity" helped me get on the bandwagon, and now I'm excited anytime a new space film gets released. (I finally saw the very first Star Wars just last month!) The fact that we know so little about aliens, outer space, other galaxies and the like, leaves a lot of room for creative story lines and interpretations. "Arrival" is the latest sci-fi/alien film, and it's the best movie I've seen all year. I would advise you to not watch the trailer, so there are truly no spoilers.

It's always difficult to write about films like this - not divulging too much of the plot, but wanting to entice my readers to go see it. The cinematography is beautiful, the score haunts, and you'll alternate between being on the edge of your seat and being totally lost. Director Denis Villeneuve is fresh off "Sicario", a fabulous, underrated movie that has quite a bit in common with "Arrival". While the plots couldn't be further apart, we're on a journey through the eyes of a female protagonist, figuring everything out at the same time with her.

Amy Adams plays Dr. Louise Banks, an expert linguist hired to communicate with paranormal creatures that have arrived to Earth. The arrival came in the form of 12 UFOs, scattered randomly throughout the world. Adams brings such grace to this role that it's easy to empathize with her. Jeremy Renner, though a bit miscast, does a fine job as physicist Ian, who works alongside Louise to figure out how to communicate with the aliens. I could always use more screen time with Forest Whitaker, the military officer who hired them.

Louise, Ian and the team are allowed inside the UFO every 18 hours, when a door opens. Their first trek inside will cause anyone anxiety to watch. I was worried that seeing the aliens would take away the intrigue and mystery, but it's always interesting to see different writers' and directors' interpretations of the creatures. The plot slows a bit during the middle, but every other scene jerks you back to the pressure cooker Louise, Ian and the rest of the world are in. What seems like a daunting and impossible task isn't made easier when each country shuts off communication with each other, out of mistrust and fear of the unknown.

I hate to stop here, but that's really all I can say without giving away too much. You don't have to enjoy sci-fi films to enjoy this movie. If you do enjoy them, you'll really love this movie. It's one of the most unique filims that I've seen in a long time. The story, though strong on its own, is supported significantly by Amy Adams, a true tour de force. She has a lot to carry with this film and she doesn't disappoint. You'll leave, still thinking about the movie for days to follow.

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