‘Arrival’ Film Review

Grade: B-

Arrival Movie Poster

I have heard that there was some buzz surrounding ‘Arrival’; as usual when it comes to films that market mystery and intrigue. Especially when it comes to alien invasion films. The main mystery surrounding this film comes from the question on a lot of these posters: “Why are they here?”. It’s a question that has been asked since the first alien invasion movie ever made. But what makes ‘Arrival’ seem different is the originality it has.

Much like ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ from 1951, ‘Arrival’ focuses on social as well as political issues the current world is facing. It doesn’t rely on big-budget special effects or entertaining action to get the job done; which is one of the great things I can say about this movie. Other great things about it are its cinematography and sound design. It is a quiet movie that uses quiet tension throughout to give you a sense of suspense when trying to solve this mystery. As for cinematography, its amazing shots and effects come from when Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and crew first enter the giant half-mooned ship the aliens have arrived on.

Adams plays a linguistics professor named Louise Banks, who finds out about the invasion, and is sent by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to set foot on the ship, along with Ian Donnelly, (Renner) and a few others to find out why these aliens have shown around the world. The film gets repetitive at times with its cuts from the inside of the ship to the base where Banks and company plan ways to easily communicate with these aliens. When we do see them for the first time, we are amazed not only by the way they are animated, but how the sound design gives us a sense of quieting fear. We might have nightmares about these beings from another planet, but at the same time, we feel a sense of calm when they start to communicate; which adds a lot to the tone and mystery.

Along the way, I wanted to feel amazed and impressed. One thing that bugged me as we were coming to a close was not just its repetitive story, but with how confusing it became. I didn’t know what was going on and felt it needed some consistency. Once you find out why these aliens are around the world, the film’s tone starts to change, and you leave as puzzled as ever. One good thing I can say is that ‘Arrival’ will eventually start conversation and I believe it is the reason it has gained buzz. If this wasn’t another attempt at Oscar nominations, I would say that J. J.Abrams would have been the perfect choice to take on this film instead of Denis Villenueve, who did last year’s ‘Sicario’.

I can tell that Villenueve is a great director with the way he handled ‘Sicario’. He definitely knows how to keep an audience on the edge of their seats with the things that made both of these movies great. Even though, I can’t say that ‘Arrival’ is as great as ‘Sicario’. Both films have something good for audiences to enjoy, and this film might be a topic for many film schools later on. I just couldn’t get into it as much as others did.


One thought on “‘Arrival’ Film Review

  1. Hi! Great, succinct review. I felt a little cheated and taken out of the experience by the revelation of the nature of the alien language, right about when the film became really jumbled at the end. I think there’s some great concepts here and it was presented beautifully, and it sounds like I enjoyed the movie slightly more than you did, so I think it warrants a second viewing for me. It at least made this classic sci-fi fan happy.


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