This Friday from director Denis Villeneuve and Paramount Pictures is the mystery surrounding their “Arrival.”
Strangely shaped crafts have landed in several spots around the planet Earth. One such craft sets down in a vast field and the military are sent in right away. People are on edge and Linguistics Professor Louise Banks keeps a close eye on the news from her office.
She is surprised when Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) comes to her with a recording from the aliens looking for translation. Louise makes it very clear that she needs more information before offering up her opinion. As quickly as he came in, Col. Weber leaves and she returns home as everyone is doing.
Later a helicopter lands in her yard as Col. Weber returns telling her to pack and come along. Arriving she becomes the leader of the communications section of a camp that is set up close to the craft. She also meets scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and the two are told they will be suited up and entering the craft.
Their first encounter with the aliens is nothing they could have imagined and once over the initial shock, Louise realizes she must find a way to communicate with them. Enlisting the help of Donnelly, she quickly and creatively begins teaching the aliens and at the same time learns their language.
But the world is shaky as General Shang (Tzi Ma) takes the lead in believing military action is the only way to deal with the unknown. Louise and Ian must work quickly if they are to divert catastrophe from both outer space and inner space.
Adams as Dr. Louise Banks is a character that is deliberate yet hugely flawed in a believable way. She shows frustration but with restrain, fear yet doesn’t hesitate to move forward, finds answers using the simplest terms and all while in the middle of an internal crisis of her own. Adams has always been an actress I keep my eye on particularly because she is so diverse in the roles she chooses. This year she has been busy with the earlier year release of “Batman vs. Superman” and the December release of “Nocturnal Animals” with Jake Gyllenhaal.
Renner as Donnelly is very laid back for a guy for a scientist. He is actually the humor of the story line while jumping into this mystery full force. Renner has all the characteristics that make this role so believable and that means once again he keeps his talent in the forefront without use of a bow and arrow.
Whitaker as Col. Weber is a straight faced soldier who wants answers. Not understanding why the answers don’t come easier, he relies on Louise and Donnelly to make it all come together before General Shang has his way. Ma as Shang is the leader promoting war based off of a fear of the unknown.
The cast also includes Michael Stuhlbarg as Agent Halpern, Mark O’Brien as Captain Marks, and Abigail Pniowsky as Hannah.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give “Arrival” four tubs of popcorn out of five. This is a story that is a mixture of issues that will leave the audiences thinking about it all long after leaving the theater. It is definitely Adams and Renner that give the film humanity and heart which one wouldn’t expect from a linguist and scientist dealing with aliens!
The cinematography is visually stunning with its ethereal moments brought to a crescendo by an amazing soundtrack. Tackling the ever-contemplative issue of time, “Arrival” bends, shifts and twists time reminding me a bit of “Interstellar” (which is an awesome film as well). Mixed in as well is the frailness of humanity and the quickness to embrace fear first instead of understanding the unknown first and pointing a weapon – say — never!
The issue of these aliens or Heptapods is also an interesting take as they seem to want to communicate. Interactions between human and Heptapod is actually charming especially when Louise and Donnelly name the two they are taken with Abbott and Costello.
“Arrival” is a combination of so many genres and it actually brings each of them to a conclusion that can be taken two ways which means I’ll be looking forward to hearing the readers take on it. The film is sad, humorous, dangerous, and larger than life in feeling.
In the end — why are they here?