Arrival is an aliens landing on Earth movie. We all have wondered if there is life other places in the universe. And if there is, then what does it look like, and if it showed up here, what would be the purpose of the visit?
This genre within the science fiction genre has been a hit with moviegoers since the popularity of movies began growing in the early 20th century. Invasion theory flicks like Independence Day, both versions of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and War of the Worlds say aliens are here to eradicate the human race. For films like The Thing, the invader just wants to kill.
And then there’s Men in Black and District 9, where aliens are just hanging out.
Arrival is of the Close Encounters of the Third Kind variety. Huge, half-egg-shell shaped spaceships land at what looks like strategic places on Earth. They don’t do much except sit there. Panic ensues while authorities worldwide try to figure out the point of the visit.
Amy Adams is terrific as Dr. Louise Banks. She’s a linguist sent to Montana to work with a physicist played by an equally good Jeremy Renner to learn the language of the Heptapods — as they’re called — and ask them questions. While struggling to communicate with the creatures, Banks is also dealing with the death of her daughter.
Arrival doesn’t have you worrying about the fate of the planet. But there is a deliberate darkness to the film and a gloomy undertow that pulls at you. Like the film’s main characters, you struggle with the significance of the visit and — more importantly — the why.
Credit for the mood goes to director Denis Villeneuve, who directed the equally dark Sicario and Prisoners. He gets help from writer Eric Heisserer (Lights Out), who penned his script from Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life that won the Nebula novella award in 2000.
Turning a book into a movie often doesn’t work. Subtle things that add depth to a plot get missed. While Arrival makes a good transition, there are places where it struggles to find footing. By the time you get to the unique solution with the equally unique twist, you’re glad you’ve arrived at Arrival’s exit.
The Kennewick Community Education You vs. Mr. Movie class has been rescheduled for Dec. 2 and 3. You don’t have to live in Kennewick to participate http://bit.ly/MrMovie_Dec2.
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stahlbarg
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, some violence. It’s playing at Regal’s Columbia Center 8, the Fairchild Cinemas Pasco and Queensgate 12s; Walla Walla Grand Cinemas.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen.
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.