RATED - (PG-13) -116-MIN-2016
Arrival and the Circle of Life
Part (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), (Contact), and (Interstellar), (Arrival) is a welcome entry into the alien contact genre that is smart, somber, scary.... and actually asks you to think. Thank God for fall movies! Canadian-born director: (Denis Villeneuve) certainly got my attention with his brilliant films: (Prisoners) then (Sicario), and he doesn't disappoint with (Arrival). This is a wonderful film, which is more about humans than aliens.
Twelve very large, alien shaped craft, simultaneously appear at apparently random places around the globe and perch themselves vertically just feet off the ground. They are shaped like a smooth dark gray skipping stone, disrupt nothing, and now the world leaders are freaking out as to what to do. There is a growing panic in the population. Is this the end of our Earth? Communications with the ship and it's inhabitants have started, but they aren't getting the information they need, as there is a basic language barrier between the two sides. Basically, they don't know what the hell to do.
In a series of scenes at the beginning, we are introduced to the sad and lonely linguistics college professor: Louise Banks (a perfect choice in Amy Adams), who is still in major grief over the loss of her daughter: Hannah to cancer at a very young age. We see in moments intercut with the (present?) the loving relationship mother and daughter have, along with the many battles all of us have with our children. These early scenes are crucial for setting the tone this thoughtful film presents. It takes its time with a lovely narration by (Adams) when she talks to Hannah as she thinks of her. The music, as in all of his recent films, is crucial to the story (Villeneuve) is telling. The beautiful and somber piece: ( On the Nature of Daylight) by (Max Richter) is used several times and it is perfect in setting the tone. Also, the score by the talented and frequent contributor: (Jóhann Jóhannsson) contrasts the opening theme with foreboding transposing notes and blaring horns to signal an otherworldly presence....it is fantastic. The look of the movie also is fitting, with a gloomy overcast tone to it even when the sun is shining, giving the eery effect of it peeking out here and there like it would around a storm cloud.
After a basic order of martial law throughout the country, Louise, holes up in her home by a lake, watching like everyone else, the mysterious events unfolding. She then gets a visit from the military at her home by: Colonel Webber (Forest Whitaker) who knows Lousie from her earlier work translating top secret stuff for the Government before. Webber asks for her help, as they are at an impasse. He plays her a recording of the aliens communicating and she is intrigued. At first, she is wary, but ultimately, she is whisked off to Montana by helicopter. While en route,
(Adams) is very good in these scenes as her and (Renner) prep for their first contact with the alien ship hovering over a field, as they are given mysterious shots and injections to protect them against all sorts of
(Villeneuve) stages these scenes well, and when you get glimpses of the beings and how they sound, there is a sense of wonder and dread, as they drift in and out of the foreground disappearing back into a cloud for cover. It is also very cool how the aliens communicate: by way of a watery inklike substance that squirts, from their seven digit appendage, in a circular pattern in front of the window which confuses everyone at first. What does this all mean? Are they friendly? Do they want to start a war or take over Earth? That is up to (Adams) and (Renner) to figure out.Meanwhile, the military is getting impatient. They want answers now.
It is all rather a bit befuddling, but (Villeneuve) slowly peels the onion back and reveals a larger picture of how the beings communicate in a totally non-linear way. There is no beginning or end to how the aliens think, and there is a message that, of course, the powers of the world get wrong. Who wouldn't confuse gift with a weapon? As Lousie and Ian begin to decipher the language, she starts to have more and more visions of her daughter. What could this all mean? As with life, it is beautiful and heartbreaking.
There are the obligatory nations who want to strike with force as they don't understand, and the reason they have come in the first place, still had me confused a bit; but the core of its story, turned upside down, and in then in a circle, will have you thinking afterward. When the movie ends, you will find yourself pondering a bit in the parking lot.... about many things.
The very best of the sci-fi genre in films over the years, that have stood the test of time to me, have always had some common elements to them all that would universally appeal to people: There is an outside force not of this earth, who have come here shrouded in mystery, to tell us something that will make us feel like there is a higher purpose, to our silly little existance... on this small little blue ball, sitting alone in a corner of our vast universe. (Arrival) is one of those films.
You should see this movie!
watch the trailer: