Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher


Some may dismiss Arrival as another "aliens--friend or foe?" film. That would be a mistake. As Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) directs Eric Heisserer's and Ted Chiang's screenplay, Arrival is an intricately woven web that captures us emotionally and intellectually, and its killer payoff ending makes the viewer reevaluate everything that transpired before. That ending also elevates it from a good drama to the upper echelon of its genre, alongside films like The Day the Earth Stood Still and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And like the best science fiction, it addresses the human condition and critical events of the day; in this case, the importance of surmounting nationalist and cultural barriers to face problems that affect humanity.
Amy Adams is Louise Banks, a world-renowned linguist haunted by the death of her daughter. One day, on her way to teach a class, she finds the campus in chaos. Military jets fly overhead; news stations broadcast the arrival of a 1,500-foot tall alien craft, hovering above the ground at twelve random locations around the globe. In short order, Col. Weber (Forest Whitaker) shows up to recruit her to lead a linguistics team in learning the purpose of the aliens. On the way, she meets Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), charged with heading the scientific part of the team. They, along with a group of military men get right to work, entering the craft on what seems to be an impossible task, a task that gains urgency as Chinese Gen. Chiang (Tzi Ma) is moving in favor of a military option, and CIA operative Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg) is not about to let anyone else get the upper hand. The slim hope for the team is an emotional connection Louise seems to have developed with the aliens.
To say more would be to say too much, so we will only add that Arrival's deliberate pace is offset by the intellectual stimulation of the plot and the satisfaction of wonderfully synergistic filmmaking--Villeneuve is emerging as one of the great working directors. The story provoked the most post-film discussion and speculation our group has enjoyed in a while, and the performances, as one would expect, are uniformly excellent. But, this is Amy Adams' movie. Adams, possibly the best current actress never to have won an Oscar (though five times nominated), gives an understated performance that hits all the right emotional notes. In this year of so many great female performances, it may not pay off on the awards circuit, but it should not be missed.
8.5 out of 10
FilmZ and Guy S. Malone, Researcher


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