Arrival: An Underrated "Woah" Factor

Arrival: An Underrated "Woah" Factor

This is one of those movies you think about when you’re sitting at the dinner table with the family, and someone asks you, “What’s one of those underrated films no one talks about?” Arrival is one of those movies that will spark new thoughts and ideas at said table if they've never been there before! This review will contain mild spoilers, and I highly recommend you come back and read my review after you’ve watched the film. You’ll have a better experience if you go in with no expectations like I did. 


In short, a linguists professor named Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and theorical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) lead an elite team alongside the military to investigate the mission of 12 spaceships that have descended from space in multiple places all across the planet. While learning how to communicate with said spaceships (being allowed inside the half rock shaped ship every 18 hours). Banks takes a huge risk, but one that was necessary for communication to move forward by stepping out of her suit. Does she spontaneously combust? Probably in her chest from nerves, but the Heptapod creatures actually welcome it. More risks are taken with the creatures (they do receive names, but in case you were a nosy person who wanted to keep reading before watching the movie, you'll just have to find out on your own! It plays a part in further understanding the plot). Ultimately, they start communicating via symbols while time jumping to and from the future.

With the rise of worry and political propaganda are being spread, conflicts rise between the other great nations in the world and big revelations lead to an almost fulfilling ending.

What Works

The time jumps are by far my favorite part of the film. I’ve never read the book, but once I was done with the movie I immediately added it to my TBR list. I say almost fulfilling ending because it depends on how you look at it. I believe the movie ends on a happier note due to the spelling of “Hannah” being the same backwards and forwards. While Banks and Donnelly work together, we start to see this relationship budding between them that looks familiar. And by the end of the film, you see them sharing a daughter named Hannah. Banks is experiencing a great loss and it is only at the end of the film we see her being restored. My best friend had a different take on it, but what do you think?

Another thing that works, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. Outside of their portrayals inside their respective live-action comic book movies, I haven’t seen either actor in many other films, especially in romantic roles. However, these two played off one another well. We didn't get the too early love budding cliche that really takes me out of a piece. Instead we received confirmation of their relationship only after they both had reason to care about the other person. 

The Heptapods are obviously pivotal to the movie because they don't exist in our constraints of time. I found myself quite attached to them and hope to watch more films similar to what they represent!

What Doesn’t Work

Whenever I give a film like this my highest verdict (spoiler: I loved this movie) this section is the most difficult to fill out. I don’t think there are elements in the film that need to change. I’m left to search for reasons other people may not like the film to give context or a warning for those of you who want to try it. 

There are several slow moments throughout the film that some viewers may not be okay with. Do you find yourself struggling with this? If so, I think those are the types of moments that force you deeper into the story. Since this movie does deal with time jumps, I recommend staying locked in as often as possible so you don’t miss anything. Something else a few critics pointed out was that the political conversations weren’t interesting or were lackluster. While I do not share this thought myself, I would have liked to see us travel to different countries to see how they were handling the “landings”. I’m sure it wasn’t in the budget, but a chance to see the actual conversations instead of what we got might have changed their opinions!

Verdict: I Watched This Movie and You Should Too!

Listen, all of us Sci-Fi nerds out there know the best part about this genre is the social conversations and questions we get to ask ourselves after the movie goes off. What would you do in this situation? What do you think would happen if we ran into extraterrestrial beings? We may never live to see something of that nature take place, but we can hope whoever is called to the front lines, takes the approach Louise and Ian had first. Arrival is an emotional and awakening ride that can easily satisfy your sci-fi needs!

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