23rd Mar2017

‘Arrival’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark O’Brien, Tzi Ma, Frank Schorpion, Lucas Chartier-Dessert, Christian Jadah | Written by Eric Heisserer | Directed by Denis Villeneuve


When language expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is called upon to try to help communicate with aliens who have arrived on Earth, it is a race against time before apparent war with the visitors. With time quickly running out and communication seeming impossible, will a miracle save humanity from apparent destruction?

Arrival is one of those movies that has a moment that reveals the truth to the audience, and if they miss it, it remains a very confusing movie. When they finally get it though, it is both heart-breaking and brilliant in equal measure. It is also a moment that I won’t spoil here. It has to be experienced to realise how good the storytelling in Arrival is.

At the beginning of the film we are presented with Banks as a broken woman, and we experience exactly why she is broken. With the death of her daughter, and the breakdown of her marriage it appears she has nothing. Then of course we witness the arrival of the aliens to the Earth and Banks being pulled into the communication attempts.

Where Arrival works is that Amy Adams puts on a very good performance as Amy Adams. While we may not be language experts like her, she plays the part of the audience. We experience the meetings with the aliens and get to share in the highs and lows of communication.

We also get to see her meeting Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) her colleagues, working to understand the aliens and attempting to communicate before it is too late. We also see the budding relationship between Banks and Donnelly, which is important to the story.

What the Arrival does well is it gives the audience the feel of the sheer scale of the alien Arrival, but it also manages to keep it personal to the character of Louise Banks. She is the key to what the aliens are trying to communicate, and this will be a life changing event for her. It just isn’t what we have expected, and as already mentioned, the revelation is heart-breaking and impressively done.

For fans of science-fiction, Arrival is a movie that you look forward to, because it is something different. It isn’t just about shooting blasters and exploring new worlds, it is a personal story that brings the alien worlds down to our level of Earth. It is about the beauty of language and what it can do, and what our limitations as humans are. That is why Arrival is one of the best films (if not the best) of 2016.

Arrival isn’t just for science-fiction fans, it works on many levels that pushes the film over many movie genres. If you want love, it is there, drama too, it is a story about life. It may take aliens to make us realise that, but when we do it is a beautiful moment. If you’ve not seen Arrival yet, then now is your chance. This is a must-buy movie.

***** 5/5

Arrival is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek

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