Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.
It’s hard to believe that Eric Heisserer the writer of Final Destination 5 could pen such a work as Arrival, that whilst not perfect, grasps those starry heights set forth by Christopher Nolan within the sci-fi genre.
This could have all easily gone wrong though, with the film majorly helped by the directorial work of Denis Villeneuve - who really is on fire right now - who once again employs his trademark visual style - but this time with cinematographer Bradford Young on board (known for 2014’s Selma) - and a fantastic edit - where Arrival could have truly fallen apart - accompanied by some bass-filled sound design with his now stalwart counterparts Joe Walker and Jóhann Jóhannsson, who once again bring that tension building felt within Sicario to an entirely different kind of picture within Arrival.
For a film that seems so large in terms of scope on paper, Arrival is an acutely personal film, one that quickly does away with the distraction of world-ending consequences - vacating them to the background - and instead gets to the root of storytelling itself, putting you on a more emotionally driven journey that its surface trappings of Alien encounters would have you believe - having far more in common with the Jodie Foster flick Contact than a bombastic Independence Day - and pulling you under its surface for something far more deeper and profound whilst placating you with beautiful lush scenery to gaze upon.
It truly is something special to bring those high concept science fiction idea’s into a grounded film, a path that Nolan laid out with Interstellar and Arrival is now trailblazing, crafting a must-watch film regardless of fandom for the genre, because it exceeds it.
Arrival is not perfect mind you, in one hand the film exudes an intriguing scientific - and highly watchable akin to last year’s The Martian - approach to the problem of initiating communication with Aliens and the puzzling nature of a relationship beyond that first contact, of figuring out why the Aliens are here and what they want; whilst on the other, Arrival undermines these logical underpinnings with a stereotypical military complex, that is exemplified in one particular event involving some actions of military personnel that truly make no sense within the confines of the world created within Arrival.
Thankfully this is just a minor niggle in what is an otherwise emotional and fascinating film, that Amy Adams once again shines within - who’s on a roll of her own, with a similar standout performance in Nocturnal Animals - because as previously mentioned, whilst Arrival may be touted as a larger, global-spanning film, it’s not.
Arrival is not about aliens, nor the end of the world or military powers, it’s about a single woman - in this case Dr. Louise Banks - and her journey, and ultimately the emotional realisation she - and you the viewer - will stumble upon.
Arrival is a must-watch, poignant and thought-provoking endeavour that blends an excellent script with a masterclass of filmmaking by Denis Villeneuve and crew, who once again hit it out of the park.
- 5 Out of 5 Stars
Can meander into character stereotypes
Beautiful visuals & sound
High concept ideas
Release Date: 10th November
Runtime: 1 hr 56 mins
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg & Mark O'Brien
Yes, though some concepts may be a little hard for a young child to understand.
Director Denis Villeneuve and his crew are already filming their next feature, Blade Runner 2049.
Arrival is based on the short story "Story of Your Life" written by Ted Chiang.
Renowned scientist and tech innovator Stephen Wolfram and his son Christopher Wolfram were consulted to ensure all terminology, graphics and depictions were sound.