Arrival leaves audiences awestruck
A new kind of science fiction film
By Colin Macgillivray, Staff Writer
As I walked out of the theatre after my first viewing of the stunning science fiction film Arrival, I was awestruck by two things. The first was a teenaged boy behind me angrily muttering to himself that, “this movie was nothing like Independence Day.” My second revelation was just how incredible director Denis Villeneuve’s first foray into science fiction was, and how incredibly glad I was that this film was nothing like Independence Day. I have nothing against Will Smith killing alien invaders for my entertainment, but Arrival takes an extraordinarily different approach to the first contact with extraterrestrials. Not only is it different, it’s better.
Villeneuve, originally from Gentilly, Que., is one of the best directors to break into the mainstream within the last five years. Known for the haunting thriller Prisoners and the exceptional crime-drama Sicario, Villeneuve has delivered a must see experience for those who are a fan of science fiction. The story focuses on the expert linguist Louise Banks, played masterfully by Amy Adams, and her attempt to communicate with the alien lifeforms that have touched down in twelve different locations around earth. Set to Jóhann Jóhannsson’s evocative orchestral score, Villeneuve crafts a mood of unease and lingering mystery, all the while presenting a film that seemingly transcends the science fiction genre.
Those expecting a shoot-em-up, kill those alien scum type of movie should be prepared for a more cerebral and emotional experience. It is one of the few alien flicks that shys away from the invaders and shines the spotlight directly on the human character and psyche. It’s an incredibly ambitious take on a film genre that is usually worn out with classic alien film tropes and hokey clichés, but Arrival manages to steer clear and remain a refreshing take on science fiction.
The poignant themes in Arrival are incredibly relevant, especially after the United States election has left so many lost and divided. It asks the questions of what might happen if we work together and try to communicate with each other rather than immediately resorting to violence, separation and brute force. Instead of portraying Americans as cigar-chomping, flag-waving mega patriots, Arrival welcomely portrays them as real people, with real emotions who are desperately trying to figure out what does the presence of aliens really means.
By far my favourite film of the year, Arrival was a movie about hope in a time where hope seems so far away. Amy Adams conveys an incredible sense of realism to a movie about aliens, while Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker are both excellent additions to any cast. Under the guise of a science fiction film, Villeneuve has created a piece that questions humanity and our priorities, all the while delivering a wholly satisfying film that pushes us to think about how we can come together as a community in harrowing times.