Photo courtesy of Jan Thijs
In a time when the movie industry is saturated with big-budget science fiction films, it can be difficult for a film to distinguish itself as truly outstanding within the genre. “Arrival,” a new film from Paramount Pictures, competes against films such as “Interstellar,” “Gravity” or “The Martian” in terms of sci-fi excellence.
However, “Arrival” stands apart due to the exceptionally positive philosophical views of protagonist Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams.
Louise is a linguistics professor recruited by Forrest Whitaker’s character, Col. G.T. Weber, to work for a special government project. She teams up with physics professor Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner, to communicate with extraterrestrials who have recently arrived on Earth.
The aliens arrived in twelve locations in different countries in giant egg-like ships which hover above the ground. The ships have a latch that opens every twelve hours, and each country’s government sends agents inside to attempt communications.
Whereas Americans Louise and Ian combine brain power to try to understand the language of the tentacled creatures named “heptapods,” other countries take a more violent approach to the unwelcomed guests.
Diplomatic pressure eventually causes a standstill in the countries’ combined attempt to solve the riddle of the heptapod language. Earth is on the verge of declaring war against the alien creatures, and it seems like Louise and Ian are the only people who want to preserve the inter-planetary peace.
The movie centers around Louise’s struggle to understand the new language, which is unlike any linguistic challenge she has faced before. The approach which she takes is methodical and thought-provoking. Any appreciator of the beauty of language would be impressed with this aspect of the movie alone.
Discovering the secrets of this new language has a side effect, though. Louise finds that as she immerses herself in the alien language, she begins to think as they do. For the heptapods, time is not linear. They are able to perceive points of time as happening all at once.
As Louise gains some of this ability, she is taken into her tragic past, and she struggles to reconcile her past feelings with her current occupation. With this same ability, she is also able to gain information critical to convincing other countries to combine knowledge gains by each of the twelve ships, to finally discover the real reason they have come to Earth.
Unlike other action-based sci-fi movies, “Arrival” captivates without using a series of high-intensity action scenes with advanced technological weapons. Instead, it presents a story that speaks to the mind and to the soul.
The breathtaking scenery and CGI combine with a beautiful soundtrack for an extremely aesthetically pleasing production. I was thoroughly impressed with the scientific authenticity that film offered, and on top of that, the emotional storyline was gripping.
This movie offers a different outlook on what a modern sci-fi movie can be. Well worth the watch, “Arrival” is a fantastic film with a unique story, backed up by incredible cinematography.