Arrival, released in November of 2016, is a science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve and stars Amy Adams (Trouble with the Curve and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day), Jeremy Renner (Captain America: Civil War and Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation), and Forest Whitaker (Battlefield Earth and The Last King of Scotland). The screenplay was written by Eric Heissere and is based on the Nebula Award-winning short story by Ted Chiang. The movie is rated PG-13. Click here for a detailed examination of the film’s rating.
Twelve alien spacecraft arrive over different parts of the globe. World governments make first contact but are unable to communicate. Like all the nations of the planet the United States government wants to know one thing, what do the aliens want? In desperation, the military reaches out to linguist Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams.
Colonel Weber, played by Forest Whitaker, takes Banks to a growing military camp in Montana near one of the alien ships. Working with another scientist named Ian, played by Jeremy Renner, Banks struggles to understand the alien's language of clicks and chirps. As tensions around the world increase, she begins to decipher not their spoken language, but their written one.
Arrival is a movie that requires you to think and be engaged with it. It is both a story of sadness in the life of Louise Banks and how the world might change starting on that first day of contact with an alien race. What should we do? How would we greet them and how would we communicate with them?
Part of this movie is told in flashback, or is it. Time, and our perception of it, is at the heart of this film. A portion of this movie can only be understood if seen in both the present and future. As I said, Arrival is a story that requires you to think.
No cities are destroyed during this movie and the military plays a largely supporting role. However, in one scene, a small group of American soldiers act by themselves to harm the aliens and supposedly protect the world. As I sat in the theater watching this unfold I kept thinking that the soldiers would be better trained and led. The subplot seemed forced, for added tension, and didn’t seem plausible to me. Thankfully, this is a very small part of the movie.
Arrival is science fiction in the best tradition of the genre. If you like movies that cause you to ponder elements for days afterward then you will like this film. Recommendation: Buy a ticket and see it in the theater.