This review was not written by me, it was written by my good friend Yaseen Fawzi. I wanted to share some of his reviews by posting them on my website. All credit goes to him, not me. He writes a lot of great reviews and this is yet another one. I am aware that Arrival came out in early November (this is now December). Nevertheless, he wrote a great review as always 🙂 Here is Yaseen’s review of Arrival below:
December 22, 2016
In Arrival mysterious spacecraft land on Earth and a team of investigators, led by linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), to look further into this situation. The arrival of these visitors, called heptapods, begins to raise questions about who or what they are. Banks and her team race against time to figure out how best to communicate with these unusual beings. As she unravels the mystery surrounding the spacecraft, Banks takes a life-threatening risk that could potentially make or break the whole of mankind.
Based on a short story entitled Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang and the latest directorial effort from Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario), the film is not a science fiction story in the traditional sense of the term. Instead, it can be regarded as an allegory for discovery of one’s self, and joins Interstellar and 2001: A Space Odyssey as a film that raises scientific questions about humanity itself. Because the heptapods use symbols as their language when communicating with the human characters, this plays a key role in the film’s themes of interaction with different cultures, and the paranoia that can arise from misinterpretation. The visual motif depicting numerous international broadcasts of the heptapod spaceships further reveals how this is also a major international conundrum.
Adams gives one of her best performances as Louise, who is trying to put herself back together after the loss of her daughter. She carries the weight of the film and never lets go as she struggles to make sense of what is going on around her whilst interacting with these heptapods. There is a great degree of subtlety and nuance in Adams’ performance that makes Louise all the more endearing and relatable. Some of her more memorable scenes are outside the pod with Renner portraying Ian, containing the best, most natural dialogue from Eric Herresier’s screenplay. Supporting players Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlbarg also portray their roles as Col. Weber and Halpern with a greater degree of sympathy and complexity than the typical military operatives seen on film.
The stone-shaped pods and squid-like heptapods are thoroughly designed, with their glass environment retaining the appearance of a waterless aquarium. Villeneuve creates graceful compositions of science-fiction scenery on par with Kubrick’s imagery in 2001, and the slow, melodic editing by Joe Walker and muted cinematography by Bradford Young add to its claustrophobic atmosphere. Adding to all of this is Jóhann Jóhannsson’s haunting music score, which is just as mysterious as the heptapods themselves.
Arrival is a fascinating glimpse into human behavior and interaction with the unknown, making it a science fiction film open to various re-interpretations upon multiple viewings.
* * * * (out of * * * *) “Ya-stars”