Arrival ★★★½

This movie subverted a lot of my expectations. I can't say why, but I entered this film with the mindset I wouldn't particularly enjoy it. However, to my pleasant surprise, I found it succeeded in a number of areas I hadn't particularly predicted it would.

In all honesty I went into this cautious that it might be another example of all too common 'big alien spaceship = great movie' overhype, yet it is plainly clear to see that Villeneuve has a special eye for very good grand-scale spectacle on screen. There was something really haunting about some of the alien interactions in this film that I thought really added a unique dynamic. It's clear to see that Villeneuve had been influenced in part by 2001: Space Odyssey, and it was very engaging to see how he built upon some of those visual themes himself.

The visual side of this film was notably impressive and extremely well done for a story of this magnitude; I found Villeneuve toed the line well between the large awesome set pieces, and the more intimate moments throughout.

I was also pleasantly surprised by Amy Adams' performance; I've sometimes found her a bit annoying in the past, but I thought she brought a good perspective to this. The rest of the cast was strong too. I'm a big Forest Whitaker fan, and it's never bad to see Jeremy Renner put in a solid performance.

There were some very good audio choices throughout this that added a subtle layer to a few scenes that I appreciated.

I'll come clean though, narratively I thought there were simultaneously some excellent plot points laid on top of some other rather stinky ones. By which I mean the story itself was brilliantly unique and interesting, but every now and then a moment would crop up out of the blue that stood out to me as just ever so slightly too bullshit (even for this story). These were few and far between, but they did start to collect more and more so in my mind in the last half an hour. I just can't help but feel like the ending was a bit rushed and way too convenient. I would have been perfectly happy if it had all gone tits up and the aliens had just destroyed us all for being annoying pricks. We would have deserved it. Something about it being all happy and neat at the end just turned me off it a bit.

Also I think I'm a bit allergic to when stories start to go nuts backwards and forwards through time, and this did start to get a bit Nolan near the end.

However, apart from that, this is another very strong instalment from Villeneuve that I would definitely watch again.

MiloGlaister liked this review