July 20, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Geek Review: Arrival

An intelligent sci-fi film about first contact and language barriers.

More often than not, science fiction at the movie theater means alien invasions, explosions, the occasional superpower, and can generally be seen as another action film with a high special effects budget.

But the new Arrival is nothing like that.   SPOILER-FREE review after the cut.

Man, this was good, but at the same time, there isn’t much I can say about the movie itself without revealing what turned out to be a really cool twist.  I mean, I felt myself burst into a smile when I realized what was going on, and that is all I am going to say about that.  Anything more will put the reader of this review (hi, Jimmy) with a hint on what to look for, and that will make the twist less impactful.

Here’s what I can say, and most of this is revealed in the trailers for the movie.  Aliens arrive on Earth one day in giant ships that look like halved almonds.  Looking like some sort of weird squids, they don’t speak a language that comes across as anything remotely intelligible to any human ear.  In Montana, the United States has recruited gifted linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a brilliant woman working at odds with various men around her.  Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) is initially more interested in learning some advanced physics, but at least he’s open to new ideas.  Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) just wants pragmatic results as soon as possible.  And CIA Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg) is mostly looking at everything from a national security standpoint.  A total of twelve ships landed around the world, and tensions and hopes are running rampant all over.  The race is on to not only find out what the aliens want, but also to see who can figure it out first.

Adams is spectacular in this movie, and director Denis Villeneuve put the movie together in a way that, you know, makes the effect of the movie spectacular.  The bittersweet (for lack of a better word) ending makes for a fine time at the movies for anyone looking for intelligent sci-fi or just a fine film.  Nine out of ten dry-erase board breakthroughs.