I started watching Arrival (2016) on a flight to Dallas, but didn’t finish the 2nd half until I had a chance to request the Blu-ray disc via Netflix this week. From what I watched initially, I was absolutely fascinated by the look of the film, and the quality directing. Especially with the directing by Denis Villeneuve, I was impressed with the atmosphere with the film — if this happened in real life, this is exactly how humankind would react, and the challenges we would face in communicating.
The film is based upon the short story “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang in 1998. According to one of the disc extra features, the producers desperately wanted to turn the novella into a film, but he was very doubtful that Hollywood would ever be interested. Finally, when he had a good chance, he made the pitch, and the movie execs said yes.
The film stars Amy Adams as top linguist Louise Banks. The audience is initially introduced to her through some interesting backstory. Soon enough in the present day, the world is shocked when 12 alien ships arrive on Earth. She and Jeremy Renner will be tasked with making first contact with the aliens in America. While Jeremy Renner’s character Ian Donnelly is the scientist, Louise is the key as she must try to make sense of the alien language, then formulate a response. Forest Whitaker plays the gruff Colonel Weber in charge at the alien landing site in Montana.
The film is really different than what I would have expected. Without giving the plot away and ruining the surprise, while the film is really realistic, there are clues that the film is more than the sum of its parts. In addition, the film makes a “Crazy Ivan” towards the end of the film that surprised me, and I like when a film surprises me.