Denis Villeneuve, the man behind Prisoners and Sicario, returns to cinemas across the country with his most impressive film yet. Taking the lessons in cinematography and story he learned from his previous Oscar worthy efforts, Villeneuve delivers us one of the most memorable sci-fi movies in recent memory. While Arrival may have been built around the idea of aliens invading Earth, its anything but an invasion story.
From the very opening shot, the film makes it clear that it wants to set itself apart from other sci fi movies. Not only does it succeed in that, it ends up blowing the entire genre out of the water. Some of the shots are absolutely breathtaking, leaving you in awe and wonder. Villeneuve is becoming something of auteur; you can tell this is his work from the very first frame. Every sequence is very deliberate but doesn’t drag on in the slightest. Overall a very poetically shot film.
What really drives the film forward in my opinion, is Amy Adams. I’ve always liked her as an actor and thought she was capable of delivering something truly moving; this was that movie for her. She brings a certain emotional weight to the character that is just perfect. The movie would be a shell of itself without her, so I think an Oscar nod is in her very near future. It’s difficult to explain exactly how well her performance was without major spoilers, so I’ll leave it at that.
Besides the acting and cinematography, the overall story was an absolute pleasure to experience. The plot is thick with mystery and paces you along at just the right speed to keep you interested and keep you guessing. The tension is expertly built into a grand crescendo at the end that leaves you stunned. The first viewing will arguably be the best. It’s rare that a movie actually leaves me sitting in the theater speechless, but Arrival managed just that. Even a few hours after watching it I was still reeling and trying to digest it all.
In an industry dominated by blockbusters featuring caped heroes fighting off the latest alien invasion, Arrival serves as a breath of fresh air. A breath of fresh air not just in Hollywood, but the science fiction genre in general. There are no adrenaline inducing scenes of absolute destruction, with the film instead opting for an intricate mystery plot. It’s intelligent sci-fi at its best, delivering philosophical ideas and leaving a lot of questions unanswered. It’s an alien invasion movie that’s not about the aliens. It epitomizes everything good about sci-fi, and then some. Arrival isn’t just a can’t miss for sci-fi fans, it’s a can’t miss for movie fans.