Arrival Review

Not your typical alien film…

“Now that’s a proper introduction.”

I’ve been a big fan of Denis Villeneuve ever since I saw Prisoners (2013). I really thought that movie was fantastic, not only was it my favourite film of 2013, but I also thought it was extremely overlooked at the Oscars; especially in the acting and directing category. I was super intrigued by Arrival because of the subject matter and after being blown away by all of Villeneuve’s other films, I knew I had to see this one as soon as I could. The trailer was really spectacular, so needless to say I was ridiculously excited to go check this film out.

Arrival is a Drama, Mystery and Science-Fiction film about a language specialist (Amy Adams) who is recruited by the military to aid in the translation of alien communication.

Arrival is directed by Denis Villeneuve. As I stated prior, I’m a big fan of his work and I’m always blown away by what he directs. Villeneuve’s filmography consists of Polytechnique (2009), Incendies (2010), Prisoners (2013), Enemy (2013), and Sicario (2015). His other big project coming up, that I can’t wait to see is Blade Runner 2049, which is due to release next year. I’m a big Blade Runner fan and I cannot wait to see what Villeneuve does with that world. But Arrival was something else, something I haven’t quite seen before. The sheer amount of depth without loosing the viewers in the details was fascinating. The way that Villeneuve moves his camera and just brings you into this world is captivating to say the least. I always find myself really analyzing his films, and I always find myself falling in love with one of his shots or camera movements. Like in Sicario, for example, the scene where the FBI goes over the border into Mexico, and we see this convoy of black Jeeps, just flowing in and out of traffic just hit me, and shocked me. All of it was shot from a helicopter, in one continuous shot. As you know I’m a sucker for those kinds of shots. Arrival shared a similar shot which I fell in love with when Louise and Ian first arrive at the makeshift military camp. In this scene we see a shot from a helicopter where we get a full 360 degree path around the camp and the landing site of the UFO, and then we stop at the other side of the military camp. Not only did it wow me with the continuous shot, but the cinematography here was absolutely breathtaking, as is tradition with Villeneuve’s films.

The cinematographer for Arrival was a man by the name of Bradford Young. His filmography consists of A Most Violent Year (2014), and Selma (2014). I thought his name should be mentioned because he did a beautiful job. The way that the film is shot and how it brings you in and doesn’t let you go, even when the credits roll is something to talk about. I felt like he just did a superb job with Arrival and I hope in the future Young and Villeneuve work  together again.

Arrival is based on a book by Ted Chiang and the screenplay was adapted by Eric Heisserer. Heisserer wrote the screenplays to A Nightmare On Elm Street (2010), Final Destination 5 (2011), The Thing (2011), Hours (2013), and Lights Out (2016). After previously seeing The Thing and Lights Out earlier this year, I have to say that I find his scripts very interesting and clever. Especially with Lights Out where it could have been really bad and cheesy, he actually wrote smart characters. This was his first crack at the drama side of screenplay writing. Honestly, after first reading what this guy did, I was skeptical. I thought the dialogue would be a bit cheesy and that it may be cliche. Just because The Thing (2011) i didn’t think was great film, the dialogue was weak, but the CGI really took me out of the film. But Lights Out (2016) I thought was good especially for a genre where we know all the tropes. Arrival was his best film he’s written, by far. The characters were well written, the atmosphere was perfect, and the plot was just plain fantastic. I have zero issues with the writing of this film, and I’d be interested to see what Eric Heisserer writes next.

Arrival stars Amy Adams as Louise Banks, Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly, and Forest Whitaker as Colonel Weber.

Amy Adams’ filmography consists of Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Wedding Date (2005), Enchanted (2007), Doubt (2008), The Fighter (2010), The Master (2012), Her (2013), Man of Steel (2013), Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). Adams also has another film before the end of the year with Jake Gyllenhaal called Nocturnal Animals (Release Date – December 9th) that I’m excited to see. Amy Adam’s was Louise in this movie, I really like her acting chops, but I especially liked her in this movie, just because it was different that what I’ve seen her do before. I would go as far to say that this is the best movie I’ve seen her do so far, and hopefully she does some more interesting things in the future, and I’m really excited to see Nocturnal Animals this year too. I would say that she will definitely be nominated for Best Female Actor in a Leading Role at the 89th Oscars.

Jeremy Renner’s filmography consists of S.W.A.T. (2003), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007), 28 Weeks Later (2007), The Hurt Locker (2008), The Town (2010), Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2011), The Bourne Legacy (2012), The Avengers (2012), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), Mission Impossible 5 – Rogue Nation (2015), Avengers: Age Of Ultron (2015), and Captain America: Civil War (2016). I’ve always liked Jeremy Renner, I think he’s a great actor. Lately, however, I felt like he was replaying the same characters in franchise films too much, which is a weird criticism when he’s in a franchise. But I felt like Hawkeye was a great character for him and he is Hawkeye but that role for me has gotten stale. Also his role in the Mission Impossible franchise also got a little stale for me too. It was refreshing to see him do a movie where I don’t have any basis to go on before I see a film. I got to go into this film knowing that he wasn’t going to be playing the typical movie role that I know he does. I thought he was excellent in this movie, it was great to see him take on such a different type of role. The chemistry he had with Adams was superb as well, they meshed really well.

Forest Whitaker’s filmography consists of Platoon (1986), Good Morning, Vietnam (1987), Panic Room (2002), Phone Booth (2002), The Last King Of Scotland (2006), The Great Debaters (2007), Street Kings (2008), Repo Men (2010), Out Of The Furnace (2013), The Butler (2013), and Southpaw (2015). I’ve always enjoyed Whitaker’s work, especially Panic Room (2002), which from my memory was the first film I saw with him in it. Panic Room was a very tense film and it really showed off Whitaker’s acting skill. Arrival, I felt like he did a great job in as well. He was really on the ball with this one.

The acting throughout this movie was just superb, as was to be expected when you have a really talented director.

I bring this up again because I keep hearing people argue about it. People claim that there is no originality left in Hollywood. That every story is a remake, reboot, an adaptation, etc. People who say these things need to look outside the box and look for something a little different. Sure Hollywood loves their remakes, but theres also a few really amazing, and original gems that come out every year that go under the radar. Which is a shame. If you want originality, actively look for it, don’t sweep it under the rug. Arrival is one of the most original movies I have seen this year, probably second to Swiss Army Man…I know…Its hard to compete with a farting corpse.

This is a movie that begs to be uncovered, that begs to be watched and rewatched. It begs to be discussed and talked about with your friends and loved ones. And it begs to be discovered by audiences everywhere.

Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival gets a 5/5. This is definitely one of the most interesting, intriguing, and best films I’ve seen this year.

This was a mind blowing film, and I’m still picking up the pieces.

It came out at the perfect time, and definitely will be one to look out for at the 2017 Academy Awards.

My Oscar Predictions Are:

Best Director – Denis Villeneuve

Best Female Actor In A Leading Role – Amy Adams

Best Cinematography – Bradford Young

Best Picture – Arrival

Until Next Time!



I will be attending a screening for Manchester By The Sea on Wednesday November 30th, so stay tuned for a review of that.

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