Arrival (2016)

Arrival (2016) movie poster

director Denis Villeneuve
viewed: 11/12/2016 at AMC Metreon 16, SF, CA

2016 has been such a bad year for so many things, I haven’t really even thought about its dearth of good new movies.  Usually, somewhere in a given year I am aware of either a dearth or an occasional spurt of good movies.  This year, I guess we have a few more weeks to see how it will go down in history.

Denis Villeneuve’s jump into science fiction is Arrival.  Written by Eric Heisserer and based on a novella titled “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, it’s a bit more a heady thing than one with laser guns.  It’s more akin perhaps to Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) or Contact (1997) in the way that it’s about a first contact with extraterrestrials, one in which the whole world is watching.

Its hero is Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguistics professor and she is teamed up with an astrophysicist played by Jeremy Renner, as they try to unlock the language of the visitors.  There are 12 ships all over the world and each country is trying to figure out what is going on.

Arrival has had a solid buzz about it, maybe in part because of that dearth of quality movies this year.  And it is good on the whole.  It’s a very human story, with an aspect of a twist that I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about it.  I guess I’m also not sure 100% how I feel about Arrival.

My kids both liked it.

I’ve only seen one other of Villeneuve’s movies, Prisoners (2013), which I was similarly unsure about.  I definitely like Arrival more and you can see how this might give some hope for his next movie, the Blade Runner sequel from next year.  That one has a lot more scrutiny and doubts, but for now, a mild hope.

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