Interesting first contact movie with lots to say about the importance of language in shaping the way we think.
Basically, alien ships land at 12 places on earth, and nations react predictably.
Whittaker is a colonel, tasked with trying to find out why they're here - he recruits Adams' linguistics professor and a scientist played by Renner.
While the reactions of the humans are pretty predictable, the aliens themselves are well conceived. There's interesting takes on the nature of language, time and weapons. There's a real feeling of 'otherness' to them.
The film looks beautiful, with moody pale greys, smoky fogs and the acting performances are similarly unshowy, serving the storyline above all else.
Amy Adams has has really been in need of a vehicle to show off her acting chops - this, coupled with Nocturnal Animals, released at the same time in the UK do the job.
It does that thing that Inception did really well - mixing complicated ideas with good storytelling. If anything, Arrival feels a little more profound in terms of emotion, but not as original as Inception.
PLEASE DON'T READ THE SPOILER UNTIL AFTER YOU'VE SEEN IT. It's really worth trying to go into this movie without knowing too much about it.
Where Arrival really works is by using a non-linear timeline as a sucker punch. That part of the story describes the heartache and tragedy of knowing the future, but living through that future for the moments of joy amidst the pain. And on that front, it does very well. It's this aspect that elevates a good looking film into something more cerebral.
It's a good movie, and Jeremy Renner manages to be watchable without making me want to punch him. Adams does a great job - it's definitely her film.
I think it's really interesting how this film plays with tropes. You think you're watching an identikit aliens film, but it's what's going on underneath that is interesting. It leaves a feeling of watching a magic trick, but it's not a feeling of being cheated.
Also, Villeneuve is a brave director. He allows the camera to settle on Adams' face for long, long shots, and she conveys universes of emotion with tiny micro-expressions.
The beginning of the movie is superb. And I like the punch near the end, but I felt it was too aesthetic, too much like the rest of the movie. I think a fracture would have been better after. Also, there is the other simplistic vision of Chinese and Russian, and the clichés of US military's need to destroy.