Arrival is a godsend in a year where movies have been getting more pandering or mediocre as the months passed by. It's really refreshing to see a movie take familiar concepts but add a fresh spin to it by having interesting ideas executed right or showcasing a different story all together while not being dumbed down for audiences since Denis Villeneuve, director of Prisoners, Sicario, Incendies & Enemy, has become a fan favorite filmmaker for taking genres by giving it a new story to tell and with Denis set to direct Blade Runner 2049 (FUCK YEAH!), this filmmaker is going to go on and do breathtaking wonders for movies. Sorry if the opening description is vague but I'm just floored on how good Arrival is.
The plot centers around Dr. Louise Banks who's tasked by the military to decrypt a message from the aliens as it may hold a clue to humanity's salvation. That's all I'm gonna say about the plot cause if I told your the entirety of the plot, you will get spoiled too quick but if I were to describe the film then Arrival is about the importance of the universal language and how we must learn from one another to become a stronger species. In an age of relying on social media and where media news outlet would prefer to showcase the horrendous things humans are capable off while throwing claims of "how humanity deserves to be killed from the earth", many forget we humans are flawed by nature and despite that, we still thrive to live on for the future ahead by use of communication or working together to find ways to cure unknown diseases or find ways to help out the homeless in need. That's not to say Arrival sugarcoats the themes cause the film also explores the dangers of how humanity can lose their sense of self through fear & paranoia while disregarding logic or common sense all together. The characters are rich & unique with Louise Banks being such a well-written character as a woman who's overjoyed with the discovery of the shells while also dealing with a past that keeps coming back to her and it's thanks to Amy Adam's wonderful subtle performance that elevates her character from the rest of the cast. Jeremy Renner as Ian Donelly is also great and while not as strong as Adam's, his character is still interesting with his interactions with Banks feeling very genuine and honest as you get to see a good chemistry between 2 people making an amazing progress regarding extraterrestrial beings landing on Earth rather than having aliens go "BOOOM!!" in every goddamn alien invasion movie. The only real complaints for Arrival is some of the plot conveniences near the end of the movie and some lines becoming way too cheesy but the film never dumbs down the story while having enough subtle visual cues that would warrant a second watch for home-video.
The cinematography in Arrival is very impressive and while Roger Deakins didn't return for this film, Bradford Young was talented enough to bring a calmer yet haunting look to the film from the empty exteriors of the ship to the ships looming among the 12 cities. Arrival just oozes atmosphere and each shot is build up with great tension like the moments we witness the ships while seeing our characters ready to suit up in order to not get infected with any potential germs on the ship while the music keeps the chills until it hits you. Speaking of music, the score by Jóhan Jóhannsson (hope I spelled his name right) is the best part of the movie with it's subtle ambient sounds, heart-pounding drums and calming piano pieces that sets itself apart from other science fiction scores. Not to mention this composer will also conduct the score for the new Blade Runner movie... Goddamn it Denis! Stop taunting me with your goodness!
That's pretty much all the great things I have to say about the movie... Also, this is the shortest review I ever written so far not counting the Quickies BTW. Arrival is just a really special film that's better to watch it on the big screen by going completely blank without reading the reviews or watching the trailers since they do spoil a big key moment in the film. This is Denis best film yet and a powerful science fiction story worthy to stand among 2001: A Space Odyssey and Blade Runner...
"GET OUT OF MY MIND, BLADE RUNNER 2!!"