Arrival (2016) Poster

(II) (2016)

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No CGI overkill, just some fine acting and directing
malVV_13 February 2017
Denis Villeneuve is without a doubt an upcoming director and I can't wait to see Blade Runner 2049. Prisoners, Sicario and now Arrival (haven't seen Enemy yet, or some of his earlier work). Denis knows how to capture the tension. It is almost the strongest point of all of his films. Minimal use of computer generated images, and main focus on story, characters, acting and thrilling scenes. Back on IMDb board, I have noticed a lot of people calling Arrival a boring movie. So many hypocrites these days. People trying to point out every possible flaw to look and sound smarter while at the same time hailing far worse movies. Calling it boring and slow while at the same time complaining no originality in Hollywood, only giant CGI laser explosions extravaganza. Go watch Independence Day. In Arrival there is no action, no explosions, just some amazing acting performances combined with good directing, editing and cinematography. There was not a single moment I felt bored.
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Time. Life. Gift. You. Gift. Life. Time.
tahseenahmed11 January 2019
As a kid, my dad used to tell me stories at night just like any other dads out there. I grew up, got busy with life but those priceless timeless beautiful storytelling moments that I once shared, that amazed me in wonder, curiosity, imagination and desire to know more..

I know if I think hard enough I might remember some of them, but that's not the point. The point is all those stories had characters and people and objects and places and things that I could either imagine or something that I could picture and understand and visualize in my young mind. If not for those imaginable characters and people, I would have never understood those stories, the true meaning of the story, the actual story behind the story that my dad probably wanted me to understand.

Arrival, for me is such a story. Aliens are just fun characters that help me understand the story so I can actually see beyond it and understand the untold story. You see, the way I understand it is that the director had to dumb it down for us and wrap this movie in a sci-fi genre and add aliens so you could relate it to something you are familiar with and hoped, really hoped that we try to understand the true purpose, the message behind all this. It simply couldn't have been portrayed better than this!

This movie teaches you a lot of things, if you are ready to learn. About 'time' and how much we are bound by it, about life and death, about loving unconditionally, about believing in yourself that everything happens for a reason, and so much more..
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A flat out, stone cold, science fiction masterpiece
ryanjmorris11 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a linguist who teaches at a College. One day, twelve giant spacecrafts appear in random locations across the world overnight. Louise's skills make her a requirement for the U.S forces, who recruit her - and mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) - to attempt to decode and translate the language that the creatures inside the spacecrafts are using in order to prevent a global war. Alien invasion films have, frankly, been done to death. Arrival's script - penned by Eric Heisserer and adapted from Ted Chiang's short story "Story of Your Life" - is ingenious in that it finds an entirely new angle to focus the whole thing on. Rather than start a war and depict the bloodshed and trauma of an alien invasion, Arrival focuses on the struggle to communicate with the creatures (dubbed "Heptapods"), and what the aftermath of this could lead to should it not go to plan. The whole thing is pieced together like a piece of art - the performances, dialogue, cinematography, soundtrack, screenplay, editing and direction all form one elegantly structured whole. It's a simply astonishing feat of film making.

Arrival finds strength in just about everything it is comprised of. It does this to such an extent, in fact, that it's almost impossible to break it down into individual pieces. Amy Adams is superb here, giving a subdued but deeply moving performance. A lot of the film rests on her shoulders for its twists and turns to stick the landing, but she carries it without breaking a sweat. Never given any big Oscar-esque moments, Adams tells Louise's story in her softest moments and through her body language. It's an astoundingly delicate performance. Renner is also solid, and accompanies Adams nicely, even if he can't help but feel woefully overshadowed. Louise as a character is the film's most exciting element - a woman that uses her knowledge and skills to change the world in ways it has never been changed before, all of which comes down to language. When Arrival ends, you will spend hours thinking about yourself and the language you speak and use every day. The potential behind this story was astronomical, and it delivers in spades.

Much like in his previous film Sicario, Villeneuve has created a masterful aesthetic in every way. The film's soundtrack, courtesy of the terrific Jóhann Jóhannsson, is a sublime array of thumping horn arrangements and softer pieces. The cinematography (by Bradford Young) is breathtaking, bringing in references and odes to other sci-fi classics (notably 2001: A Space Oddysey) but successfully acting as a perfect match to the tone of each sequence. The flashback sequences focused on Louise's young daughter look and feel like forgotten memories, while the moments inside the spacecrafts feel entirely alien. The production design is stunning, the large pitch black objects hovering over the cities feel instantly dark and foreboding, and the brief sights of the creatures we're given reveal something wholly original. In terms of technicalities and aesthetic, Arrival is a thing of beauty - a unique, visually resplendent film that you never want to take your eyes off of.

But where Arrival hits perfection, though? The emotion. The power behind the story, and the direction the story takes in its tremendous final act. This is what makes Arrival such a phenomenal film. It sets up a story (an already thought-provoking and well paced one, at that), and then smoothly transforms into something much bigger than you could ever have expected it to be. Another stroke of ingeniousness is that the film doesn't do this in one movement. Rather than drop one bombshell and change its direction, Arrival slowly sets up a series of events, then puts them in motion one by one, binding everything neatly around its central character. Y'know that feeling you get when an absolutely killer plot twist lands? Arrival will give you that feeling for the entirety of its final act. It is, of course, entirely possible to work out where it is headed. I did, as a matter of fact, and it just made the whole thing feel that little bit more special. You either work it out and watch as it comes to life before your eyes, or you cluelessly dedicate your time to its finale and feel mesmerised at each and every turn. Whichever you experience, it is wonderful.

Arrival is a film that feels thrilling in its own unique little way. When it ends, and you discuss it for hours (which is inevitable), you'll find yourself not focusing on the aliens. You'll be focusing on the emotional power of it all, on the human side of the story. I've deliberately left a lot out of this review, just to avoid spoiling the direction the film takes in its final act. The power behind the constant twists and turns is game changing; it proves that science fiction can be, despite what the name might imply, the most human genre to make a film about. Arrival has some stunning imagery and effects to play around with, but instead it focuses on language and conversation. It focuses on humanity and time and memory, and all that is worth fighting for on this planet. It is a breathtaking achievement, and one I already cannot wait to experience countless times again. In a year riddled with emotionless superhero films and crude comedies, Arrival is a godsend. Villeneuve has been on the verge of a masterpiece for the last few years, and he has finally landed it. Arrival is a film for the ages. Seek it out at all costs, and let it transport you across time and space only to bring you back down to Earth, evoking a feeling you may never have experienced before. This, people, this right here is why I adore cinema.
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Wow - what a surprise
bob-the-movie-man8 November 2016
Sometimes I can get very irritated by a trailer for giving too much away (case in point, "Room" and more recently "Passengers"). Sometimes I can get very excited by a really good teaser trailer (case in point, "10 Cloverfield Lane"). But most of the time a "ho hum" trailer typically drives the expectation of a "ho hum" film: "Jack Reacher: Never Look Back" being a good recent example. Then there is "Arrival"…

Because the trailer for "Arrival" belies absolutely nothing about the depth and complexity of the film. At face value, it looks like a dubious "Close Encounters" wannabe, with a threat of movement towards the likes of "Independence Day" and "The 5th Wave". Actually what you get is a film that approaches the grandeur of "Close Encounters" but interlaces it with the intellectual depth of "Inception", the mystery of "Intersteller" and a heavy emotional jolt or two of "Up".

Amy Adams ("Batman vs Superman") plays Dr Louise Banks, a language teacher at a US university facing a bunch of particularly disengaged students one morning. For good reason since world news is afoot. Twelve alien craft have positioned themselves strategically around the world, hanging a few feet from the ground in just the sort of way that bricks don't. Banks is approached by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) and offered the job of trying to communicate with the aliens: where did they come from? why are they here? Banks faces the biggest challenge of her academic career in trying to devise a strategy for communication without any foundation of knowledge on what level communication even works at for them. Assisted by Ian Donelly (Jeremy Renner, "Mission Impossible IV/V", "Avengers"), a theoretical physicist, the pair try to crack the code against a deadline set by the inexorable rise of international tensions – driven by China's General Chang (Tzi Ma, "Veep"; "24").

Steven Spielberg made a rare error of judgement by adding scenes in his "Special Edition" of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" showing everyman power guy Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) entering the alien spacecraft. Some things are best left to the imagination. Here, a reprise of that mistake seems inevitable, but – perversely – seems to be pulled off with mastery and aplomb. The aliens are well rendered, and the small scale nature of the set (I'm sure I've been in similar dingy waiting rooms in UK railway stations!) is cleverly handled by the environmental conditions.

But where the screenplay really kills it is in the emergence of the real power unleashed by the translation work. To say any more would deliver spoilers, which I won't do. But this is a masterly piece of science- fiction writing. The screenplay was by Eric Heisserer – someone with a limited scriptwriting CV of horror film reboots/sequels such as "Final Destination 5", "The Thing" and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" – so the portents were not good, which just adds to the surprise. If I were to be critical, some of the dialogue at times is a little TOO clever for its own good and smacks of Aaron Sorkin over-exposition: the comment about "They have a word for it in Hungary" for example went right over my head.

Denis Villeneuve ("Sicario") deftly directs, leaving the pace of the story glacially slow in places to let the audience deduce what is going on at their own speed. This will NOT be to the liking of movie fans who like their films in a wham-bam of CGI, but was very much to my liking. The film in fact has very little exposition, giving you lots to think about after the credits roll: there were elements of the story (such as her book) that still generated debate with my better half on the drive home.

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are first rate and an effectively moody score by Jóhann Jóhannsson ("Sicario"; "The Theory of Everything") round off the other high-point credits for me.

An extraordinary film, this is a must see for sci-fi fans but also for lovers of good cinema and well-crafted stories.

(Agree? Disagree? Please visit for the graphical version of this review and to comment. Thanks).
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Society Is Still Living In The Dark Ages
DanielStephens198825 July 2019
Truth cannot be thought, believed, imagined, communicated, spoken, written, proven, or argued. It is challenging for most people to accept, especially many scientifically minded people. They tend to assume, "If absolute truth does exist, it must be possible to prove it or argue it, or communicate it." All those are limited, and the absolute truth is unlimited, it's total... that's what makes it so interesting.
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Not A Masterpiece, An Achievement
cdjh-811255 January 2017
Arrival was one of my most anticipated movies of 2016 I loved all the trailers for this film and the talent behind it made me even more excited to see the final product and I can safely say that I was blown away by the final product. This is a slow burning, thought provoking and incredibly intriguing Sci Fi masterpiece that I think in future years will become a classic. Amy Adams gives one of the greatest performances of her entire career in this film, she perfect embodies someone who is determined in her pursuit but damaged by her experiences and it's a performance that will hopefully give her an Oscar. Jeremy Renner was just perfect casting for this film he was incredibly convincing in this film and his chemistry with Adams was fantastic. Forrest Whitaker was great in this film and it was nice to see a different type of role from him. The slow pacing of this film worked perfectly it helped to build up the slow burning suspense and gave the characters more time to be developed better. The special effects in this film are also fantastic mainly because they are used sparingly as it is clear that the focus is more on the characters. Denis Villeneuve did such an amazing job directing this film he really sucked you into the situation and made it seem more life like. This film asks a lot of questions about humanity and how it interacts and these questions are incredibly intriguing and thought provoking it forces the audience to think on real life and accurate the events of this film are to real life. The whole mystery of why the aliens are here is done perfectly you're more that likely to change your mind at least once and when a mystery like that is built up for so long it's hard to make the eventual discovery satisfying but in this case it was, the eventual reveal makes you look at this film in an entirely different way, the film also doesn't feel the need to answer every question it asks leaving certain things ambiguous that allows the viewer to think on their own answers.

Arrival is a film that trusts the intelligence and patience of its audience, it is complex and thought provoking but is never boring or dull. This is not only the greatest film of 2016 but it's possibly one of the greatest I've ever seen. I truly believe that in the future this film will become a classic.

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ARRIVAL: The Best Sci-fi Film Since CONTACT
ikjirstin14 October 2016
ARRIVAL delivers on so many levels it's impossible to describe without spoilers. The book is out there, so if you really must know before you see a film, read, "The Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang...but I highly recommend you see the movie first. Honestly. You want it to unfold as a warm, fresh croissant on a chilly morning, and melt in your mouth.

From visually stimulating scenes to an unexpected score masterfully composed by Jóhann Jóhannsson you recognize at once this is a thinking film you'll long remember.

One scene in particular features a cloud that took my breath away. Sure, the extraterrestrial vehicle was amazing, but that cloud... As a photojournalist of nearly fifty years, I was stunned at the lifelike character of the cloud and suspected it was real, though I knew that was impossible; you can't cue Mother Nature when it's time to roll. I wanted to praise the CGI team for the effect, but Shawn Levy confirmed it was natural. They had set up to shoot this wide shot, worried about impending rain, or too much wind, or the lighting being too dark for the right effect, but the cloud wanted to become a star that day, and it rolled into frame with absolute perfection. This scene alone is worth a nod to Bradford Young for best cinematography.

The special effects team delivered, too.

Amy Adams performance was stunning. Sci-fi is largely disregarded when awards are passed out, but if the Academy neglects to acknowledge Adams work in this film, I may boycott them forever. Adams is Oscar-worthy for a Best Actress nomination for her character of linguist Dr. Louise Banks in this one, though Meryl Streep will most likely take it for Florence Foster Jenkins.

It is clear the five years taken to bring this story to the screen were well worth the work.

Ten well-deserved stars for ARRIVAL. I wish it a huge success at the box office so this team will continue to make more films of this caliber.
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A film that not only tests the idea of aliens, but of humanity.
laabstract15 September 2016
Are we alone? This question has haunted mankind since they first gazed at the stars. "Arrival" answers this question with an abrupt no. Other films have tackled the question of humanity being alone in the cosmos, from classics like "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) "The War of the Worlds" (1953) "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) "Arrival" deals with the idea of alien landings in a much different way than traditional Sci-Fi films. While the picture focuses on creatures from another planet, it still has the uncanny ability to question our own humanity.

Although "Arrival" is set up like many other Sci-Fi films with a doctor being needed by the government to do some top secret work to save human kind, it is not a traditional Sci-Fi film. Being Denis Villeneuve's first leap into the Sci-Fi genre "Arrival" is a story of self-reflection which is helped along by an alien presence. For no particular reason 12 alien ships land all over the planet in seemingly random locations. The only true form of communication takes place from a single opening in the bottom of the alien vessel, where Linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is tasked at trying to open up dialog with the visitors. Physicist Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) is tasked with finding out how the alien vessel is capable of travel through space and how it seemingly defies gravity. The real question however remains in not how the aliens got to earth, but why?

What sets this film apart from others in the genre is the way that it plays with the notion of time, love and the essence of being human. Which is showcased in director Denis Villeneuve and writer Eric Heisserer's effortless ability to jump from time and place. While trying to discover what the Aliens are, and their motivation, Dr. Louise Banks discovers what makes herself human and questions everything held sacred to her. "Arrival" is just as much a film about aliens landing on earth, as a film about self-discovery and the value placed on love and loss. Dr. Banks although participating in some of the most ground breaking work a linguist could ever be involved in, is haunted by the tragic loss of her daughter. This coupling of discovery and loss is reflected perfectly in the acting performance of Amy Adams who is often torn between several emotions throughout the film.

Just as in his previous movies "Sicario" (2015) and "Prisoners" (2013) Denis Villeneuve employed composer Jóhann Jóhannsson who created an eerie and often unsettling composition for "Arrival". The sound pairs perfectly with the strange other worldly images of the aliens and their craft, the composition adds another layer of complexity to the already foreign and creepy world that is the alien craft. Visually the film is fantastic with an expert play on light and dark imagery, and the very deliberate use of color to emphasize certain characters and events. This transfers into the shadowy and smoke filled environment inside the alien vessel as well as the ink like Rorschach style alien writing. The visual effects used in Arrival give a sense of other worldly presence making the ship look as if it were a great technical feat of some unknown civilization, yet at the same time look organic as if were merely plucked from the surface of some far off planet. The aliens themselves look as if acquired from a Guillermo del Toro set, they are octopus like with long tentacle arms and gunmetal gray coloration, which begs the question of how a creature like this could have the dexterity to craft a sophisticated vehicle.

The film comes together to create a package of visual, intellectual and audible bliss. The composition of Jóhann Jóhannsson is second to none and at times the sound plays a critical character in the film. The cast with inclusion of Michael Stuhlbarg and Forest Whitaker (2 actors not really know for Sci-Fi) was a welcome addition. The dynamic between Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner seemed organic and a hallmark of great acting. But the stand out performance was that of Amy Adams who played a truly troubled and conflicted character.

In "Sicario" Vileneuve finished the movie with unanswered questions and left a lot to the imagination. In "Arrival" the film ended with a perfectly packaged ending that felt too neat and tidy. The film went into some sophisticated ideas that dived into the essence of humanity, yet did not give the same license for abstract thought with the conclusion. Ultimately Arrival is not just an exploration of alien beings, it's an exploration at what makes us human, and the positive and negative aspects that are associated with that humanity.
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Denis Villeneuve's magnum opus!
CalRhys21 November 2016
Prior to approaching this film, a word of warning that it is what many like to call a "thinking person's sci-fi". If you're going to watch this, I beg that you dedicate your utmost attention to it, as it is truly one rewarding experience, one of the smartest, most well-constructed science fiction marvels of recent years. 'Arrival' is Villeneuve's magnum opus.

Firstly, to put your mind at ease, I won't be analysing the plot, thus avoiding the use of spoilers. This decade, Villeneuve has crafted some fantastic works of art in the form of 'Prisoners', 'Sicario' and now this science fiction gem, and here's hoping his career further develops with more movie masterpieces coming our way. In a world where mysteries remain and the possibility of extraterrestrial life still stands unanswered, 'Arrival' approaches this with it's cliché-free take on the genre.

The relatively unknown Bradford Young provides the film with some of the most stunning cinematography ever conceived, taking advantage of the twilight hour to give the film its somewhat unique look, supported magnificently by Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson whose score is both haunting and beautiful. If you're someone looking for a science-fiction tale that keeps you guessing and thinking throughout, with fantastic performances, cinematography, music and near-flawless direction, then 'Arrival' is the film for you. The masterpiece of 2016!
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Don't trust the haters.
olecuyer77710 December 2016
It became obvious that you either love or hate this movie. I will just say that however. With a rating of 84% after over 8o thousand votes and the ones who hate this film with a passion giving a 1.5 out of ten average rating, you can assume that a vast majority of people loved the film, a well deserved assessment. I'm not saying that all the bad reviews have no merits, we all know that we sometimes wake up on the cynical side of the bed, but most of them in this matter, are written by empty tripe(s) waiting to be filled at the sausage factory, or by cynics way too enclosed in their narcissistic bubble to realize that the quietness in the theater at the end of the movie, was because of the introspection of a moved audience. Just ignore the haters and read the good reviews, it will give you an urge to see this masterpiece.
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Best of the (fairly rare) "smart" sci fi forks...
A_Different_Drummer19 November 2016
To this reviewer, there are two kinds of sci fi.

The common type dates back to Buck Rogers and has more modern iterations in Star Trek and Star Wars. Action and mayhem.

The other type, the "smart" or intellectual type, is harder to classify. It has been around forever but appears and disappears randomly. Consider the DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951/2008) or CUBE (1997) or the more recent MARTIAN (2015).

The second type is an oddity because most of the heavy lifting takes place in your brain, not on the screen.

I consider ARRIVAL the best example of the "Smart" genre ever done.

These films, because they are so subjective, require a central character that the viewer can identify with. Ms. Adams deserves special merit for picking this film up and carrying it to the finish line.

A must see, for fans of "smart" scifi.
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This generation's Close Encounters of the Third Kind
bartonj241015 October 2016
The mystery of the unknown is something that doesn't get explored enough within science fiction. Too often we see science fiction films, particularly involving aliens, that are only interested with how we, as a species, would fight back against them.

Every now and then however, we get a film like Denis Villeneuve's Arrival that comes along and offers something totally different. The film uses its tagline "Why are they here?" quite literally to deliver one of the most fascinating films you will see all year.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is one of the world's leading linguists, who gets recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications. Along with mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise attempts to get answers as to why twelve alien spacecrafts have landed at different locations around the world.

I had only seen three of Denis Villeneuve's previous films before yet I have been impressed with the diversity of his films, a trend he continues with Arrival. What I really admire about Villeneuve as a filmmaker is the choice he makes to not spoon feed the audience with every single piece of information. He instead makes films to challenge the audience, leaving them to either complete the puzzle themselves or question the morality of his characters.

With Arrival, Villeneuve has crafted a truly thought provoking science fiction film, telling the story in a slow yet masterful manner, leading to a beautiful pay off. The theme of communication resonates massively with the world today, the moment communication between twelve countries via satellite link breaks down summing it up quite suitably.

Villeneuve's storytelling is aided by some superb cinematography from Bradford Young and a haunting score from Jóhann Jóhannsson. Young's cinematography captures the sense of wonder perfectly while Jóhannsson's score heightens the sense of mystery surrounding the alien visitors and their intentions.

Coming to the performances, Arrival features a real emotional heartbeat thanks to a fantastic performance from the always dependable Amy Adams, who conveys such a wide range of emotions as Louise, growing in confidence with each session she gets with the visitors. Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker offer some fine support for Adams but there is no doubting this film belongs to her.

Arrival is one of the best films of the year and a really great example of science fiction filmmaking from Denis Villeneuve, who is perfectly suited to bring us the sequel to Blade Runner next year. I would happily put this film in the same league as something like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, one of the all time greats of sci-fi.
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The Arrival of a mind-blowing sci-fi masterpiece
GODZILLA_Alpha_Predator13 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Last night I saw Arrival at TIFF and my mind was blown. This is by far Villeneuve's biggest film he has tackled yet with so many strong universal themes but yet also feels very emotional and intimate from the perspective of Amy Adams's character.

Unlike Villeneuve's previous works like Prisoners and Sicario, Arrival isn't a dark or twisted look at humanity. Instead, Villeneuve chooses to go for a lighter yet still serious tone with the mystery surrounding the arrival of the aliens. That is what makes Arrival so incredible. Villeneuve injects elements from Stanley Kubrick's 2001 to make the story not only visual stunning but also makes it very captivating. Arrival does not rely on conflict between the humans and aliens to keep you invested and entertained because Arrival is against that trope. Each time our characters interact with the aliens, who remain covered in mist for most of the screen time, we as the audience gain something new in the form of knowledge and discovery rather then an action set piece. And when we return back to the outside world, we see through the media how each discovery affects it in different ways.

The characters are one of the reasons why this film works. They are not treated as cliché plot devices but are just real people who just want answers to this situation. Amy Adams truly is the star of this film as she carries this film with a sense of gravitas but also vulnerability. She shows a woman who is at first terrified from meeting the newly arrived aliens but gains strength when she learns more. Flashbacks to a tragic event also reveal the struggle she goes through especially as the fate of the world is on her shoulders. Jeremy Renner does a good job as a physicist with a dry sense of humor. Forest Whittaker is also great a the general who isn't a trigger-happy idiot but someone whose job is just to get answers in order to find the safest and most humane solution possible.

Arrival is a film that is more then just about language. It shows how divided we are as a species as each nation and culture interprets the alien's language in different meanings. And from this lack of clear understanding it creates fear and paranoia that could lead to global war. But Arrival shows that despite the mystery that surrounds the unknown, the future can be just as hopeful and bright as it might be scary and we should approach it with confidence.

This has proved Denise Villeneuve has range in genre as a director. I look forward to seeing him continue his work in the sci fi genre with Blade Runner 2.
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so close but so far.
martin-807-45227010 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This should have been brilliant!


I love Amy Adams and think she is a great actress, and the first half of this films is suitably spooky, fully of mystery - but as soon as she gets in to the alien space ship and starts writing her name LOUISE, I just shook my head. Why is it so hard for Hollywood to write a decent script???

We spent YEARS deciding what to put on the side of the Voyager spaceship in case any sentient life forms discovered it, and used pictographs and hieroglyphics, but in this film the world's best linguist (allegedly) who knows Sanskrit (so therefore must know alien languages) just stands there and writes LOUISE in bad handwriting on a small white board and shouts her name whist enthusiastically thumping her chest!

That is how the English behave abroad, not how you make first contact with an alien race.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind did this so well with sound and colour, but here we just have a flip chart and a marker.

such a flippant regard for science makes all the rest of the film silly. People were laughing in the cinema when Ian started saying his name, and walking up and down 'IAN WALKS'. And then all of a sudden Lousie can recognise the word for time travel, which is a very complex concept, and all in the space of a few days.

Clearly the director and writer had a really great idea, and set up the world very well, but as soon at they go to the complicated bit - how do you actually communicate with an Alien from another planet who has no cultural references, then they bottled it and threw in a Voice Over from Ian, who we never quite worked out what he was there for. It's an old film making trick - if you are stuck thrown in a voice over that explains stuff.

They didn't even bother to try colours, or sounds, or lights, or music - just a white board and a marker and Louise has been writing in English, whilst round the world everyone will be writing in their own language and confusing the poor aliens.

And if you have got Forest Whittaker the Oscar winner in your film, for god's sake give him something to do! He has no purpose in this film, all his lines could be cut. Just have soldiers grab Alison and fly her to the space ship - give her the briefing in the chopper...

The director and writer should be forced to watch Close encounters of the third kind until they appreciate how pathetic their film becomes.

Such a shame. 8 out of ten for the first 30 minutes and 2 out of ten for the slow fart of the rest of the film.
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I really don't understand the good reviews. Everybody in the cinema was bored to death
lruella15 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
This movie left everybody in the cinema clueless and bored to death.

So many things in the movie make ZERO sense, just a few examples:

  • The colonel expects the linguist to decipher some alien language that sounds like gwowodkgjdkgrowlhwkas on the spot from a dicta phone.

  • Most important event in humankind and all decisions are taken by some random soldiers in the camp. President of the US or any politicians are never shown and take no role whatsoever in the story.

  • Some "rogue" soldier (god knows how) gets his hands on explosives, avoids all controls, and expects to destroy with a few C4 charges a huge spaceship which defies the laws of physics.

  • The way they "decipher" the alien random scrabbling are just completely arbitrary and laughable (aka there is no explanation on how anything is deciphered) but magically after a few months they have a full vocabulary with which they can have a conversation. In real history many real human languages based on actual letters (not random stains in the air) were a completely unintelligible until the Rosetta Stone was found with a key to understand them.

  • The alien presence on earth is just nonsensical. They arrive, say that they have bought some "gift" to humanity because in 3000 years they will need help in return (for what?) and then they disappear in thin air without having accomplished anything.

  • The attack by the Chinese general (again, no government exists, it seems that soldier can just do what the heck the want) is stopped by some phone call whose contents nobody bothers to explain.

  • most of the movie is just going back and forth from the ship, zzzzzzzzzz

  • The physicist is practically useless. He just sits around without giving any scientific contribution. His only role is to represent the love interest of the linguist. He could have been a janitor for all I know.

People saying that this is the best movie ever have probably never seen a movie in their life or have suffered a concussion. Proof of this is that, while we're still talking about 2001 a space odyssey after 40 years, in 3 months nobody will remember this onsensical, boring, badly written piece of garbage.
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*** SPOILERS*** A dreary, morose Close Encounters
mkc121813 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The aliens have arrived. And they are – Holy Calamari People, Batman! – giant squid. The giant squid communicate in writing by shooting magical retractable ink out of their tentacles onto a transparent wall. It's up to linguist Amy Adams to decipher their communication before the other crazy countries in the world try to blow up everything.

The Calamari People, who float in a room of steam, write in circles – which is apparently how they experience time. Without a beginning or end. They can see their lives in their entirety. And the Calamari People are here to give humanity a gift, we find out: Once you unlock their language and become fluent, you will experience time in the circular way they do. It's a lot like becoming fluent in French and suddenly realizing why the French love Jerry Lewis so much.

From the lack of character and character development to the way the story unfolds, the movie is like watching a real-time long shot of a grave digger digging a grave on the grayest of all days. It's morose and filled with dread. Monotone and monotonous. Shovel after shovel after shovel, and he never seems like he is getting anywhere.

The entire pic is filled with "music" that is just a bunch of low hums that underscore the dread and monotone. It doesn't give us a clue to how we should be feeling. And that's why I go to the movies, to feel. How about awe at seeing the spaceships? The joy and celebration of the first breakthrough of communication? Nope, we get tedium and low bassy hums.

Jeremy Renner plays a physicist who doesn't do any physics, and he nicknames the two Calamari People we see Abbott & Costello. Although you can't tell them apart, Abbott becomes my favorite character in the movie because he gets to die midway through and doesn't have to suffer through the rest of the film. Lucky Abbott.

Throw in voiceovers and flashbacks that we find out are really flashforwards because time is actually circular to Amy Adams, and you have a film that yearns to be so much more than the real-time gravedigging than it is. It's the type of intellectual pretentiousness I thought only the Nolans could put on the screen.
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An extraordinary film.
nemoe7 October 2016
I saw this last night at the opening of the Mill Valley film Festival. Arrival is unlike any movie I've ever seen. It's about love, loss, tolerance, language and non-linear time, wrapped in a science fiction story about our first encounter with extraterrestrials.

Under director Denis Villeneuve's masterful direction, Arrival takes its time to unfold, but it gradually gets under your skin and commands your attention. The last half hour was one of the most emotional experiences I've had at the movies in a long time. There aren't many movies these days that I would call required viewing, but this is one of them. And Amy Adams is Oscar-worthy in the lead role. In fact, Arrival could also win Oscars for original score, sound, direction and Best Picture.
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Best movie of 2016 and among the best sci-fi movies of the decade
zeljkohrvatska28 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Being a linguist myself and a great sci-fi aficionado, I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this amazing cinematic gem. It has absolutely everything I could want in a smart and thought provoking sci-fi movie. It had me at the first several seconds - it gripped my attention from the get go and never let up. Music and the actor played a great part in this, but the story itself is what's really amazing. So simple, yet so complex. I definitely didn't expect the time component but caught on relatively quickly. Definite recommendation for people who are not brainless sheep used to Hollywood crash-boom-bang kind of sci fi. This is a meditative experience about human nature and its indestructible spirit. Tell all your friends about it.
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Excellent, intelligent, just a terrific film.
Sleepin_Dragon18 November 2018
This is a very, very well made film, which is thought provoking, measured, engaging, and thoroughly well made.

There is nothing brash, or heavy handed about it, the story is superbly told, with well grounded characters. The story is of course sci fi, and hugely creative, but it's never silly, it is incredibly intelligent.

Awesome special effects, I loved the design of the alien race, and their language, quite incredible.

A story of hope, which I loved. 9/10
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Disappointing and deceptive
nico-palou8 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I went in really wanting to like this film since I love sci-fi and i'm interested in philosophy of language. However, I was disappointed, mainly because it fails at its own game: the science is ridiculous, and so is its cheesy and simplistic anti-war message. The scene where the colonel first approaches the protagonist Louise Banks at her office was incredibly stupid and badly written:

Colonel: (out of the blue) It's been only two days

Louise: (confused)...

C: People are already demanding answers. Here, listen to this *plays audio recorder*

L: (still confused)

C: Well? Come on! What are they saying?

L: I'd have to be there; I can't translate from this.

C: You did it back then with Farsi insurgents!!

L: That's because I already knew the language (Duh!)

C: Ooohh, I see what you're trying to do here you sly girl... it's not gonna happen, this is not a negotiation!! (storms out)


And then they land a helicopter in her backyard to pick her up (so over the top!) after they find out that the second "expert" on their list gives an "incorrect" answer to a question that doesn't make sense: "what's the Sanskrit word for 'war' and its translation?" Isn't that asking the same thing twice? In any case, this was a clumsy way of introducing the theme of miscommunication. Apparently this Berkeley scholar was not aware that a word can have different meanings in different contexts/uses.

Louise is the only real character in this film; they decided to make everyone stupid and hollow just so she could look smart and layered. She's written to be more a translator between two known languages than a linguist. They really didn't know how to show a true linguist at work, so they decided to skim through the whole deciphering process by means of a montage rather than showing her actual process, which would have been far more interesting. You could say this is a film that only features sci-fi elements as a backdrop for a drama. Well, they should have advertised it as what it is!

Renner' character doesn't behave like a scientist, he's quite ignorant and shallow (but we're supposed to think he's smart because he scribbled some unintelligible stuff on the whiteboard). The only contribution he makes is incredibly contrived and unnecessary. He's there for two reasons: 1) to give presence to natural science, providing a counterpoint to Louise who represents the social sciences, 2) a plot device for the twist ending/love interest (by the way, who bought them falling in love? Nothing throughout the movie hints at a developing relationship. The ending was so cheesy).

Then the military is a bag of clichés: stupid, impatient, and reckless. And since when a colonel and a general make all the political decisions? The whole "let's unite and cooperate" message falls flat because it was so unrealistic. The right-wing nut-jobs sub-plot felt rushed and unnecessary. It's like they're trying too hard to take a political stance against everything that Trump represents, but it comes off really heavy-handed.

I'm not even going to bother with time "travel" paradoxes and contradictions about the presence/absence of free will, because I get that this is sci-fi and the plot is supposed to serve a greater message, in this case, the moral question that Nietzsche famously once posed:

"What if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sight and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence' […] If this thought gained possession of you, it would change you as you are or perhaps crush you. The question in each and every thing: 'Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?' would lie upon your actions as the heaviest weight. Or how well disposed would you have to become to yourself and to life to crave nothing more fervently than this ultimate eternal confirmation and seal?"

There were far better ways of exploring this question.

As for the cinematography, it was unnecessarily bleak, and the only memorable piece of the score is not even original; it was written by Max Richter years ago for another film and recycled here.
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Pure boredom
jlgibbs3013 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Note to self: be sure to check the default sort order for IMDb reviews. I realize now that it was set to 'best' and combined with all the glowing reviews and 8.5 stars I was going to enjoy my first night at the movies since Christmas.

So very wrong.

I don't thank I'm revealing any spoilers, but just in case, i'll say it now.

The movie is about a linguist brought in to try and communicate with aliens that have appeared around the globe. And that's it. You would think that if she was successful there would be huge implications and if she was not successful there would also be huge implications. In the end, there were no implications - she wrote a book. And the book had no impact on the world either. The end.

This is why I'm such a happy Netflix customer. I can give the movie half an hour to get going and when I realize that it's going to be a stinker (aka Fury) I can stop it and move on to something else. In this case, I was trapped in a sold out theatre. When it was done everyone just quietly filed out. I'm pretty sure its because, like me they were trying to figure out what the point was and how they got tricked into watching it.

I'll give it a star though for the music score.
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A Science Fiction Masterpiece
noahbeanslice-223-2623327 September 2016
Arrival is the best sci-fi film I've seen in my 22-year-old lifespan. I haven't seen certain sci-fi films like They Live, Alien 3, or Metropolis, so I can speak only from the standpoint of someone who watches a shitload of narrative, documentary and experimental films. Some of my recent favorites are Holy Motors (2012), Son of Saul (2015), and The Look of Silence (2015).

I just saw Arrival two days ago at the Telluride Film Fest and everyone in the theater had their brains cheesed out at various points in the film. For people paying close attention to every frame, the rules of the film might become clear in the beginning sequences. For an Average Joe moviegoer like me, the film is a slow, natural process of discovery from the first scene to the last. The influences of Stanley Kubrick on science fiction films has been noted time after time, but Arrival picks up its Kubrick vibes with it's slow sense of discovery, even if Amy Adams and her technology moves around the screen more frantically than 2001: A Space Odyssey. That's why I respect this film and also why I like 10 Cloverfield Lane. A lot of sci-fi films (like the new Star Trek released this summer) don't create that unfolding sense of science/alien-related mystery. The way information is revealed and presented leaves us begging for more answers, and boy does Arrival deliver.

Oscar-worthy for sure, especially in production design/special effects/sound. Don't blow it, go see it November 11th or whenever it's coming to your town.

Bring earplugs.

Just kidding.

But seriously.
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Awful movie
jeremy-clay5911 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Here is the first spoiler, you will never get back the time you waste by watching this movie. The story line is based on a linguistics professor being recruited to communicate with, ahhh well...squid...over sized face huggers...who knows and even more importantly who really cares? The creature design is uninteresting and done to death. The ships the squid arrive in are...can you guess it? If you were thinking giant are absolutely right. If not and were expecting inspired ships designs...sorry...nil points. The film tries to be cleaver by lots and lots of random cut scenes combined with a weak story line and characters which fails to connect with the audience. The language used by the aliens in my opinion would take years to decode and the antagonist of the movie manages to crack a written language based on circles in mere months. There is a real lack of explanation as to the motives of some of secondary characters, as a rouge team of military personnel attempt to blow up one of the 12 giant pebbles. Why? Surely they can't expect us to believe that a YouTube clip motivated them to possibly doom all of humanity? The movie is boring. You can feel every minute slowly tick by. As your brain is assaulted by a million random cut scenes of babies, people passing away and other mundane rubbish, you wish you were in front of a freshly painted wall watching the paint dry.

That's not all! When you get to the actual stage that you wish that real aliens would just blast you with a ray gun to end the misery of watching ends. It's not a joyous occasion, I mean yes you are thankful the film has ended but it plummets even further into dire and mediocre pit of misery and despair. It is finally ascertained that the squid have a tool or gift for humanity. Upon the discovery that the squid will do us a favour and will return in a mere 3000 years to ask for our help in return. This is the best bit...oh sweet lord...the squid and their giant pebbles dissolve like fizzy tablets. They give us nothing...and to be honest most of us will be dead in 3000 we'll worry about that when we get to it. The main protagonist is then seduced by a smooth talking scientist who breaks the ice by saying "Wanna make a baby?". You try that...please. Go up to a lady you fancy in a location of your choosing and blurt out the immortal words "Wanna make a baby?". She will either have you arrested or will destroy you were you stand. Either way I wouldn't consider it solid dating advice.

I would like to conclude by saying please listen to my mad ramblings and don't watch this movie. If like me, you enjoy Sci-Fi there are dozens of better films out there. Arrival is not original, the story line is weak, the monsters are dire and their ships are dreadful. I am a massive Forest Whittaker fan and the man is still a legend. Only two questions I would like to ask him...Why did you choose to be in arrival? & when is Blood Sports 2 going to be made?
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OMG What a snorefest
philharmonica14 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Please save your money. If I could, I would have requested my money back. When the film ended I heard at least 4 couples saying WTF!!!! Really boring movie. Not even close to any of the classics. I am reading all of the reviews that are saying a classic, right up there with close encounter etc.... NOT EVEN CLOSE. All you want to do is smack Amy Adams in the first 1/3 of the movie. Not a good character for her to play. Forrest Whittaker has the funniest accent(i think its Boston) you have ever heard. Totally goofy and giggle out loud funny. I love SYFY movies, they don't have to be CGI, wham, bam type movies but this is a total waste, gives you nothing and leave you with nothing. People will say , "Man this really gets you thinking", yeah it does, I was thinking where the freaking nearest exist was 1/2way through the movie. You are constantly waiting for the movie to get moving. NEVER happens. Slow, grey, and totally un-moving. It tries to play on the heart strings a bit but fails dismally. I wont reveal the end but 1. If you go don't blame me 2. Try not to throw your popcorn at the move screen at the end, believe me you will have most of it left over.

If there was zero stars I would have given it. Total waste of time and money.
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A thought provoking masterpiece
jovanakesar10 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
''Human. I am human.'' said Louise while trying to make a contact with the unknown creatures that arrived at our planet. ''Are we alone?'' This is the question that we have been asking ourselves since we discovered that we are a part of something much bigger than ourselves – Universe. It knows the answer to all of our questions. If only we weren't so disconnected and distanced and if only we chose to listen to what it has to say to us, we would feel that connection. It is there. It is always there. It always has been. Our purpose is to find a way to make a connection and synchronize our minds and souls with the universal source of wisdom that Universe is. With the eternal lullaby that has been sung to us and to our ancestors. To find out why we are here. Maybe the reason that other beings haven't visited us yet is because we are divided - divided by languages, countries... We seem to come up with more and more barriers each day and we seem to be more and more distanced from each other. The Universe itself shows us the perfect example of Unity. Look at the stars and planets. Look at the harmony and the perfect alignment, perfect order. Silent power of united giants. Maybe the reason we still haven't made the ''first contact'' is because we are not on the same frequency. The frequency of Love and Peace. Arrival goes further than any other Sci-Fi movie. It is a tangled web of different topics: time, loss, the possibility that other beings exist, role of one's purpose, the mystery of life itself... But to me, there are three main topics that are beautifully embroidered throughout the whole movie – Love, Unity and Time. Love is the only power that we need. Only love will unite us all. Love isn't limited in any way. Not even by time. Love itself conquers death and it shines into eternity. Arrival decided to change the way of alien portrayal in movies. It said no to stereotypes. Why would other beings have to be violent or use force? No. That's right. They don't. They came to present the world with the most precious gift – universal language. A language that will unite, a language that will tear down all the walls that humans built. And most importantly, it will change the way we perceive time. I enjoyed this aspect. Louise was able to establish a connection with them. She was chosen. She was given a gift to see the future. Piece by piece, until it all came together and formed a puzzle of her life. Before it even happened. What would we do if we knew every detail of our lives? Would we try to change it? Or we would enjoy it all even more and fully accept every single moment, like Louise did? This movie also shows how much it is important to persist in something. Persist until we find out the truth. Persist until it all makes sense. Be patient and not give up. Because whenever we get tangled in the threads of life, we will find a way out. We always do. One individual can change the world. Each and every one of us is a part of HERE and NOW. And starting with ourselves, we can make a big impact. I've always enjoyed Amy Adams's performances and this one was absolutely captivating. Her facial expressions deliver all the emotions and transport us there. We are standing there with her, in front of those unknown creatures, trying to make sense out of it all. We are participants, not viewers. We experience awe, confusion, fear, wonder and relief. Like Amy said herself, Louise is very intellectual and instinctual. She is a linguist that has a great capacity for empathy. She represents a female character that relies on her intuition, her brain, her instincts. Accompanied by Ian (who is a theoretical physicist), she succeeds in her mission, that was at first unknown to her. The movie was gradually unfolding, it had many layers. Each layer explored a different topic. Arrival is a spiritual journey, it deals with so much more than we could ever imagine it would. It has a heart, it speaks to its viewers, it gives hope. It's philosophical, it's enlightening. It also conveys a message that knowledge is power. It deeply touched me and it really resonated with me. It confirmed something that I already believe in. I believe that we are following the ''invisible threads'' of life, that we are being guided. Guided to make choices, resulting in what was already meant to be. It gave me a special feeling and I know I will be coming back to it over and over again.
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