[Review] Arrival – Sci-Fi Redefined

Director:  Denis Villeneuve

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Our Rating5_star


Every now and then there comes a movie which redefines human logic and makes us wonder about how this universe is working. Goerge Lucas, James Cameron, Steven Speilberg & Christopher Nolan are one of the those few genius film makers who have shown us time and time again that opening up the imagination can lead to limitless possibilities. Add Denis Villeneuve to the list as well. He took a book and turned it into a beautiful, thought provoking & imaginative movie which can be classified as a piece of motion picture art.


The original book, on which the movie is based, titled “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, was published in 1998. It was nominated for multiple awards and won some too. It took Hollywood over 10 years to actually start working on the live motion picture and Eric Heisserer (The Thing, Nightmare on Elm Street, Final Destination 5) was chosen to the screen writer for it. I must say that Eric has done a marvelous job in writing some of the most compelling dialogues which Denis turned into a visual treat.


The movie is about an alien landing, well multiple landings and 12 to be precise, all over the world. This is one of the first times I have seen other countries given some importance as well but there’s a deep political message as well, to which I will come to later. A linguistic professor Louis Banks (played by Amy Adams) is tasked to interpret what aliens are saying and there is a team assembled to go up to their space ship, which looks like a giant rock suspended in space. Louis is accompanied by a theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (played by Jeremy Renner). Both, along with the military personnel, go the site and have multiple sessions with aliens in their space ship. The aliens, who look more like squids speak through symbol language. It is Louis and Ian’s job to learn and interpret the language so that the “earthlings” can know what their intentions are.


There are primarily only two squids communicating with them and Ian names them Abbott & Costello. Louis spends countless hours learning and interpreting the language and finally one sentence makes the entire world shit their pants. That sentence was “Use the Weapon”. The story dramatically changes once nations learn their intentions, which was being misinterpreted by all and Louis was trying to convince everyone for the same.

Amy Adams has given the performance of a lifetime

The entire movie has multiple flashbacks by Louis which seem out of place at start but once you start getting deeper into the story, you see what they are all about. The aliens have always been portrayed as “bad guys” and are only coming to earth for destroying it, like we failed to do it on our own. On the other hand, aliens in Arrival are peace loving and are seeking human’s help for their future. The movie is based on the logic of time and space and their co-relation with the language they are speaking. Louis is the only one who truly understands their language and it triggers an ability into her, which is being able to see the future. Now when you will see this sequence, every riddle, flashbacks & question will be answered.


Amy Adams has given the performance of a lifetime (award season is around the corner). Forget every role she’s ever played in any movie especially the recent Superman franchise. She is simply magnificent as Louis Banks. The portrayal of a woman who is scared but trying to be brave, a woman who sees everything in a different perspective once she understands the alien language. She has put her heart and soul into the character with her soft tone and heart warming expressions. There was nothing skillful in Superman but Arrival opens up a new horizon for Amy Adams altogether. She carries the entire movie with the support of Jeremy Renner, who also is well suited for the role. The only objection I have with Jeremy is that he probably needs to get more dramatic roles in order to explore the true actor within him.

There may be a lot of questions in your mind after the movie is over

Now coming back to the political element, which I talked about earlier. The movie shows the true face of humanity that we are ready to kill anything and anyone whom we do not understand without thinking of consequences. We think that resolving any situation with a hostile response is the answer to the problems but in reality, working together for achieving the good for humanity is the only solution.


Do watch this movie and I would recommend keeping a separate time for it as watching it in haste and without listening to the dialogues, you would not be able to get the essence of it. There may be a lot of questions in your mind after the movie is over but then again, this is only a review and not an explanation of the movie story.



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