Movie review: Arrival

Arrival, a science fiction and mystery movie starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, was one of the nominees for Best Picture this year at the Academy Awards. This is special, because science fiction movies are rarely nominated for that highest of awards. In order to do so, the move in question must be very high-quality.

So, of course, I went to see it, and I can now confirm that it is, indeed, really excellent. It’s also the kind of movie that is hard to talk about without ruining it, but I’ll try my best to avoid spoiling it. I will tell you that once you see it once, you’ll want to see it again in light of the ending. It’s also got beautiful cinematography; the sort of movie that you’d want to see on as big a screen as possible. I saw it in the movie theater and loved it.

The movie is set in the present day, immediately after twelve giant, featureless oblong “spaceships” touch down all over the planet at seemingly random locations. It focuses on a linguist who is brought in to figure out how to communicate with the aliens inside, squid-like creatures called “heptapods” for their seven legs. The whole movie is driven by a need to ask a simple question – “Why are they here?” – before intergalactic war breaks out.

Of course, the movie isn’t perfect. It’s very slow-moving, so even though its running time isn’t even two hours, it can feel much longer. It can also be quite confusing at times, because some scenes are shown out of order, and the timeline of the movie doesn’t really make sense until the end. The soundtrack is very loud and sad, and can sound like an endless funeral dirge at times.

The ending, however, is fabulous in a very bittersweet way, and the story is overall quite interesting and thought-provoking. I recommend it highly.


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