I finally got to see one of my most anticipated movies of recent times, Arrival. It was the most recent Denis Vileneuve movie, following up from Prisoners and Sicario. Prisoners blew my mind away by how good it was, and while Sicario didn’t reach the same heights, it was still a great movie. Obviously, I was thoroughly excited for Arrival, and my excitement level only rose further after a great marketing campaign, and an interesting sounding movie. So, did Arrival live up to my sky-high expectations, read my 6 points below to find out.
1. The acting was pretty solid all-round.
There were really just 3 characters in this movie. There were plenty of extras, but Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker are the only ones to really have more than one line of dialogue. I have heard some Oscar buzz surrounding Amy Adams, and whether it be for Nocturnal Animals, or the more likely option, Arrival, I do feel like she is a lock to be nominated. If she does, then it is quite deserving. She didn’t exactly blow me away from this performance, and I feel like she has never reached the heights that she did in American Hustle, but this was still a nice, subdued performance by Adams. Jeremy Renner is a very underrated actor, and gets some unnecessary hate. He was clever and smart in delivering his snappy dialogue. Renner won’t get nominated or anything, but he still gave a nice little performance to add to his CV. Forest Whitaker was fine I guess. He really was just the same in every scene, and there was nothing wrong with his performance, there was simply nothing spectacular either.
2. I loved how the slow tension was built.
Arrival is a slow build movie. There is no big action set pieces, and no fancy explosions. This movie built up tension from the word go. O loved how quick we got into the main plot of the story, and the build up to that was excellently done. We got out back-story for Adams, and we knew that the aliens had landed and that everyone was in a panic, within the first 20 minutes. Some movies fall into the trap of spending half of the movie on that, but not this one. The movie was tense at all times. The scenes of them trying to communicate with the aliens are some of the best all year. They were so damn intense, and once they left the ship or whatever they called it, it was like taking a sigh of relief. Then the ideas and tension was all built back up for the next time they enter the ship to try and communicate. Villeneuve is a master at this, and the slow building tension and conflict in this movie was so refreshing to see.
3. The direction and screenplay were all fantastic.
This movie solidified Villeneuve to stand alongside Nolan, Tarantino and Scorsese as my favourite working directors. He did such an amazing job with making this movie that had a lot of potential, into one of the best of the year. In the wrong hands, Arrival could have been a boring snore fest, with nothing really happening. But Villeneuve made this into such an interesting movie that was done in such a refreshing way, that we hadn’t really seen before. He restrained the want for crazy explosions and action, and replaced it instead with a great, very tense and deep story. The screenplay was also excellent, and could well get an Oscar nomination. There was no big explaining monologue, and there was a lot left up to the audience. For example, in Inception, they brought in Ellen Page, so that she could be the character that doesn’t know what’s going on, so when they are explaining everything to her, they are practically just explaining it to the audience. In Arrival, there is no character like that. Obviously there are some moments where somebody is explaining something to somebody, but not often, and also not to the extent of what other movies are prone to do. We are often left to make up our own opinion for something and the screenplay and direction leaves a lot up to the audience.
4. This was a great pure Science Fiction movie.
The first two acts of this movie is more science than fiction. Everything is quite logical, and people react in different ways. These different ways are probable to what might happen in real life. The conflict created was great also. But everything had a reason, and everything did start to seem quite realistic. This was until the final act happened. The final act of this movie, without spoiling, really is asking the audience to take a big step forward. The science is taken over by the fiction. This was initially a little bit jarring, but once it all plays out, and the intrigue of what is happening is too much for you to doubt where the movie is heading. But the big turn from realistic to not so realistic, is really worth sticking with, and has a great pay-off.
5. This was one of the most intriguing movies that I have seen in a very long time.
I have never been in so much awe of a movie. Damn, I was so intrigued by this movie, and the direction that it took. I was almost disappointed by the ending and the 2 hour runtime flew by. Honestly, I was so invested in this movie, and I can’t put enough praise on Denis Villeneuve. The best up and coming director really proved his worth with this movie, and I can’t wait to check out his future projects. The pure concept of this movie is genius, and if you aren’t at least a slight but interested in this movie, then you should get yourself checked. I won’t go on too much more, but this was a truly fantastic movie
6. Overall, Arrival is my favourite movie of the year.
I still have to see the likes of Hacksaw Ridge, Moonlight, Hidden Figures and Manchester by the sea. But from the movies that I have seen this year, Arrival is my favourite. As much as it pains me to push the likes of Hell or High Water, La La Land and Rogue One down the list, I just can’t resist this movie. It intrigued me so much. Whether it be the sound, score, cinematography, screenplay, visuals, or directing, it was spectacular. I love Villeneuve, Amy Adams was very good, Jeremy Renner was a nice addition to the cast also, therefore it is looking like another struggle for negatives.
I don’t think that that this purely perfect, but I am going to be more generous with my full scores, so Arrival gets a 10/10.
Movie enthusiast from the middle of nowhere in Ireland. Love listening to movie podcasts and between that and watching movies, most of my free time is taken up. Active sportsperson. Turns out i'm pretty good.