"There are days that define your story beyond your life, like the day they arrived."
The new year has kicked off with the arrival of its first sensational science-fiction film, Arrival. Mysterious aliens have made their landings on Earth, but why? It is up to our main character Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), expert Linguist, to find out.
Source: Paramount Pictures
Now, if you haven’t had a chance to catch this movie in the cinemas yet and would like to, I suggest skipping this article and return once the task is done. We’re moving into spoilers’ territory ahead and you should only proceed at your own risk. Consider yourself warned.
Director Denis Villeneuve opens with a succinct and sympathetic scene of a mother (Adams) embracing her new-born, segueing to her grieving over the death of her now teenage daughter. Though a familiar beginning that fans of Disney’s Up might relate to at first glance, Villeneuve manages to manoeuvre expertly around any parallels that can be drawn up between the two sequences. He adds his own touch of obscurity to it, making it less of a copy but something more towards a beautiful adaptation.
After setting up this intriguing picture of Dr. Banks, Villeneuve ushers the audience into the crux of the story. 12 random UFOs have suddenly appeared in different parts of our world, one of which is located at USA, Montana. Each affected country sets up their own military perimeters around these foreign entities and together, through a media live feed, attempt to understand the nature and purpose of these squid-like aliens residing in the giant crafts.
The heroine, Dr. Banks is approached by the U.S. Colonel Weber –"You are at the top of everyone's list when it comes to translations" –to understand the aliens' language before Earth meets it uncertain, or certain, destruction from these unknown visitors. However, she is not alone in this daunting task as she quickly meets a talented physicist, Ian Donelly (Jeremy Renner), who joins her in this affair.
Over a steadily paced progression of narrative, the audience is drawn in by the suspense and thrill of meeting these squid-like aliens and deciphering their language along with the lead characters. As Dr. Banks begins to understand the lore of what they would call “Heptapods”, later in the film, she unravels an enigma that has everyone on the edge of their seats. A shocking truth is revealed and everything that didn’t seem make sense – the flashbacks and sudden transitions to her hallucinations – gets pieced together. In dumbfounding realisation, the audience realises that we’ve been tricked. The ending was ironically both satisfying and left for more to be desired; indeed, a great end to a new start (Arrival 2, anyone?).
Whilst having a deep and abstract plot, there is also an overtone of political globalism. It forces the audience to wonder what might happen if humanity is posed with a greater threat that one nation by itself cannot resolve. When facing a common enemy, the divisive politics we see today between countries will only pose as hindrance. This is cleverly addressed in the movie when a certain powerhouse country decides to insulate itself and shut down communications with its allies to deal with the issue alone, encouraging other nations to follow suit. Was it the right move? Would the unity of global forces, in fact, have allowed for a greater understanding and possible capabilities to fend off the danger? The answer as to whether isolation allowed for a triumph in the situation... I’ll let you find out yourself.
Arrival is the kind of movie that leaves your jaw dropping throughout the 1 hour and 46 minutes of play-time. It is an unprecedented Sci-Fi movie that weaves drama and mystery well into its complex genre. I recommend having a shot at if you’re looking for novelty! This movie does not only invoke thoughts about humanity's decisions in a fight for survival, but also shows that you never fight alone. A highly appraised film that is deserving of its credits, Arrival will not let you down.