BY THE COMMANDER
2½ (out of 4 Stars)
There have been seven films titled Arrival or variations thereof. The Arrival, The Arrivals, Arrival 2, Arrival, Arrivals and well, you get the idea. Whew!
Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Incendies, Sicario) is known (at least by me) for long, slow, drawn-out films. Arrival met my expectations following in the same vein.
This film deals with alien life coming to earth, in the form of 12 spaceships around the globe. The military is the first on the scene and while trying talk to them, they soon realize as quoted by Strother Martin in the film cool hand Luke "what we have here is a failure to communicate".
U.S. Army Colonel Weber (Forrest Whittaker) enlists the aid of Linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to decipher their language and discover why they have come to earth.
Upon arrival to Ground Zero somewhere in Minnesota our valiant scientists learn that communicating with this alien species isn't going to be easy. First, they don't speak English (Duh?), second they don't speak numbers (note the subtle reference to the 1997 movie Contact, OMG). What they do speak is a complex photo of a circular diagram with which contains multiple symbols (words) thrown in. As Donnelly describes it, “it's like writing a sentence with both hands starting at each end and ending up in the center”. Slightly more difficult than learning your average class in Thai language.
Throughout the movie there are flashbacks of professor Bank's daughter from her childhood to her demise from cancer. This insignificant sub story becomes the focal point of the film.
While I liked this film, I figured out the premise once again way too early. There were too many giveaways in the film which made it easy to figure out the ending. So once again, it became long and drawn out like Villeneuve's other movies.
I had the opportunity to see this film on the small screen but since the communication was visual I decided it was best to wait until it came out in a large 4K format. I was glad I waited because it certainly did add to the overall experience of the movie.