With all the comic book adaptations, sequels and remakes in recent months, you might think that the original tentpole film is a thing of the past. Yet here comes an intelligent, emotional, occasionally gutting epic that just happens to feature some brooding and terrifying aliens.
Talking about Arrival is hard, well if you are a jerk I suppose it is easy, but the beauty of the film is how it unravels, revealing itself incredibly slowly and surprising at every turn. It took a lot not to read any of the other reviews before seeing it, but I was rewarded with a highly emotional experience with an interesting new take on an age old story.
Sure, despite many original ideas, there are some references and nods to classics such as Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, ET and War Of The Worlds but then as kings of the genre you are always going to get that, there is no Xeroxing of ideas here, Arrival just uses these classics as jump off points and then swerves you time and again.
Don’t expect too much action with Arrival, it is very much a thinking man’s space flick, a lot of the screen time takes place either in a computer room trying to learn the languages of our visitors or later, inside the pod trying to communicate. These scenes all belong to Amy Adams, hers is a great performance, a mixture of great strength, intelligence and occasional fragility, she carries the tale completely on her shoulders and should be applauded for doing so.
Arrival is a slow burn epic which might not spend a lot of time throwing aliens at you, but if you are looking for dumb, you have ID4 and its sequel to entertain you – this is very much a thinking person’s sci-fi epic and whilst you might not be throwing your popcorn in excitement, you will come away with serious questions about the state of our world that will not fade as fast as the credits.