Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) is quickly becoming one of Hollywood’s must see directors, with his unique vision of storytelling and character portrayal, Villeneuve is revolutionizing how we watch films. Based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by author Ted Chiang and written for the screen by Eric Heisserer, Arrival explores extraterrestrial contact in a fresh, new way which pays homage to Close Encounter of the 3rd Kind and other greats from the past by taking aspects of those films and using them to enhance this lively new experience. This is a film to be cherished for many decades to come.
Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is approached by the military to help decipher an alien language upon the arrival of multiple mysterious extraterrestrial spacecraft around the globe. Assisting Banks are mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) each pressured with the task of making contact with the new visitors and understanding their language and their intent. Tensions around the globe are running high as China and other foreign governments discuss the possibility of first strike if contact can’t be made. Banks and Donnelly head a team to enter the ship and use their expertise to find a common ground between our language and theirs to properly interpret the meaning of their arrival and stop global war, but the answer they receive may change everything they’ve come to know forever.
The cinematography by Bradford Young is exceptional and sets the tone for the film. Director Denis Villeneuve uses these visuals as a supporting cast member as the camera work encapsulates you within the story and keeps you engaged throughout the duration of the film. Amy Adams‘s performance is crucial to the payoff and she is exceptional. Every step throughout this journey is commanded by Adams and, along with co-star Jeremy Renner, provide the human emotional element that drives each character to do whatever they must to complete their mission. Forest Whitaker stands strong as the moral center trying to keep the team on mission and the fate of the world in the front of his mind. The three are a perfect triangle of acting that play off one another to drive home the message.
Overall, Arrival is a giant step forward for film making and awe inspiring experience like no other I’ve witnessed this year. A film that turns the science fiction genre on it’s head with an ending so unexpected that it will leave you speechless. This is the film to beat for 2016.
4 1/2 out of 5