Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival is a compelling sci-fi movie that veers away from the usual.
Its sense of realism gives it an endearing quality; fascinating to a point. It got me thinking that if something like this happens in real life, the events would most likely happen the way they did in the movie.
The subdued and, somehow, low-key treatment made it more interesting. It doesn’t have the usual elements of a sci-fi thriller.
It goes beyond the stereotypes and attempts at a more cerebral approach and, surprisingly, it doesn’t bore at all.
Dr. Lousie Banks (Amy Adams) is summoned by the military to help decipher a message from the extraterrestial visitors. She is joined by theoretical physicist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and were flown to Montana, where one (of 12) heptapods are located.
As the planet teeters on the brink of a global war, Banks and Donnelly work double time to figure out what the aliens are telling them.
Eric Heisserer did a wonderful job in adapting Ted Chiang’s short story into a screenplay. Its laden with intrigue, tension, and suspense without having to resort to what’s predictable.
And because of that, we were glued to our seats, with eyes unwilling to blink, scared to miss something important. The buildup of tension was impeccable especially with dead silent scenes and tight shots of Adams’ expressive face. All these signal that something big’s going to happen.
While there is an evident lack of action and blood-curling sequences that come with alien invasion plots, it didn’t make the movie less thrilling. The oblivion only heightens the tension. As the characters struggle to figure out what they’re dealing with and avoid global war, we also struggle with anticipation.
What do they really want?
Are we gearing up for an explosive climax?
Throughout the film, Villeneuve drops bread crumbs without us realizing it. And, for me, this is one of the best things about the film. And they led us to that beautiful and mind-boggling twist at the end.