Some of the greatest science-fiction originating from Hollywood are not only thought-provoking but play up to the intelligence of the viewer. Long gone are the days where radioactive survivors of desert bomb testing and giant insects were the only big screen menace. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), Contact (1997), Interstellar (2014), Prometheus (2012) and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) are among the best examples of intelligent science-fiction and Denis Villeneuve was clearly inspired by the latter with slow camera pans that creates a flowing movement throughout the movie.
Amy Adams plays the role of Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist who must figure out a way to communicate with alien visitors in order to find out if they come in peace. The language of communication, from interpretation of meaning, lack of a phonetic alphabet, to pronouns are all taken into consideration while the U.S. Government races against time to weigh all options of retaliation in the event of an attack. A number of critics are jumping too quick before the apple cart to claim Amy Adams delivers a performance worthy of another Oscar. The film was released too soon before the Oscar buzz and there will more than likely be performances above and beyond taking notice in the coming weeks. Adams delivers a top-notch role for a film that normally would have been considered another comic-book-style action flick.
Arrival accomplishes the best out of an intelligent script by utilizing the claustrophobic pattern of showing panic in the streets through television screens in the background — not in the foreground. The entire film unravels within Banks’ point-of-view. The movie also delivers a solid mystery. Not until the conclusion of the film do all the clues come together to form a solution. And like Another Earth (2011), leaves behind food for thought.
Jeremy Renner plays the role of Ian Donnelly, her assistant, and since the entire movie unravels from her point of view, his role is relegated to supporting and therefore Renner’s talent is wasted for this movie. An actor of his caliber should be doing bigger movies with bigger roles.
The film’s scientific ideology is spot on throughout the movie. Kudos to the film studio for not giving too much away during the trailers, leaving us with plenty to chew and digest. Amusingly, Paramount took a financial loss with Zoolander 2 and the remake of Ben Hur, both expensive productions from the get-go. Arrival cost a third of the budget Fox spent on Independence Day: Resurgence, and I have no doubt Paramount will make a profit from Arrival on day one (whereas Fox will be lucky if they make their money back on their disaster). Proving the rule of movie-making since the 1960s: a thought-provoking puzzle-box is worth more than a big-budget alien invasion.