“Arrival” | Movie Review

arrival-2016-1Grade: (A)

A refreshing and unique mental-adventure in the genre.

The new science-fiction film from director Denis Villeneuve is here title “Arrival” starring; Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker. The story revolves around an extraterrestrial arrival to earth and a linguistics specialist called in to try and communicate with this alien species. Her mission will be to try and learn if they have a language, the primary modes of communications, and most important, why they have arrived on earth.

I was very much anticipating the release of this film. I love science-fiction, it’s an extraordinary genre and sometimes a tough one to crack. Too much fluff and special-effects and you get a “The Day the Earth Stood Still” remake, or an “Independence Day” sequel. Too much fantasy and fiction, and it becomes an interesting and enjoyable, but muddled story to relate with like an “Interstellar” or “Inception” good films, but often out of touch with normal perception.

“Arrival” to me plays out like a science-non-fiction. While it covers a spectacular theme of aliens landing on earth, the following story tells one that felt grounded in reality, and realistic to how things could play out if this event really did happen. The story sticks to the science of language and uses a unique premise as it engages humans and aliens, and it was absolutely intriguing watching the communication between the two parties grow as the story progresses.


The special-effects were subtle but effective in creating an intimidating and ominous vibe when the alien craft is shown, and when the team enters the ship. The cinematography of Bradford Young blends perfectly with Villeneuve’s direction and results in a beautiful film to watch. The effects were not over done at all and the simplicity of the visuals give off a much stronger impact as opposed to in-your-face imagery that clearly is trying too hard. Jóhann Jóhannsson’s musical score was amazing, and fits the settings of the film perfectly. With long menacing tones and an imposing monotonous pace, his score adds so much intimidation to the aliens without the use of over-the-top visuals.


The performances from the cast were excellent as well. Amy Adams was perfect for this role, she fit the part and carried the film on her shoulders. She was able to effectively portray the depth of her character and it helped me connect with her personality. Both Renner and Whitaker served their purpose for the film. They had a lot of screen-time given the simplicity of their characters. The story didn’t ask to much of them but they come in with strong performances regardless. Also, the trio of Whitaker, Renner and Adams did exhibit some enjoyable chemistry.


This was a science-fiction film that focuses on intellect and it is thought-provoking as your mind takes in the concept of this unique script. It will keep your brain busy and explores an ambitiously creative plot that you must commend. My only issue with this film was minor, but without diving into spoilers there was a sub-plot that turns out to play a larger factor in things and its inclusion into the main story-line could have been done better.

It didn’t feel slapped on by any means but it did feel slightly rushed and causes some pacing issues with the story in the third-act. I just feel like the structure of this sub-plot could have been built earlier in the story more than it was, making the most out of some random scenes throughout. But regardless this was a great movie, an awesome science-fiction ride that reminds me why I love the genre. Denis Villeneuve once again crafts and excellent film, and with a fresh concept and great performances, you can’t go wrong in going to see this film.

Time: 116 min

MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For brief strong language)