Review of Arrival


Why am I doing a review?

I have always loved reading. The more imaginative the story, the better they were, I thought. The point was to read them for how they made me feel rather than for any connection to the real world. In school, teachers wanted me to connect them to the real world, using something called a book report. Doing such a thing seemed sacrilegious, somehow. It also felt like cruel and unusual punishment. As often as such assignments came, perhaps they weren’t all that unusual.

With that, blogging a review of anything goes against my every instinct.

There is more to the story.

My experience has been that my enjoyment of a science fiction movie is almost always the opposite of how highly critics extol it.

Then I went to see “Arrival,” and thought it was great. Looking at reviews for it, I discovered the critics all loved it. None of it agrees with my usual expectations, but that is the situation.

Beyond all that, I find myself not wanting to put out any spoilers. There is a requirement to compare “Arrival” with others. While the inciting incident is the arrival of aliens, it is nothing like Independence Day. Perhaps comparing it to Contact would give a better idea.

The Review

Twelve ships appear over random spots on the planet. One site is in Montana. Linguistics professor Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, has to determine why the aliens came to Earth.

The first thing she determines is that there is no relationship between the aliens spoken language and their written communication. The written language consists of a circular swirl with protuberances at random locations. She, together with a team, are finally able to decipher these ideographs, finding the system of writing and the aliens’ concept of time are related.

There are scenes intermixed with learning the visitors’ language. These are scenes from Banks’ life, including both joyous and heartbreaking experiences. At first apparently unrelated, it all becomes a complete experience, in much the same fashion as one of the alien ideographs.

Amy Adams’ acting is as close to perfect as I could imagine. The cinematography is amazing. It is also thought-provoking. I thought a couple of scenes and situations were either unnecessary or lacked sufficient rationale. My opinion could change if I watched it again.

That is the biggest test of a movie: would I look at it again? When it comes to “Arrival” I can say, ‘Yes!’ with no reservations. Personally, I recommend it highly.