Image: Paramount Pictures

In a post 9/11 world, having multiple phones around you going off and receiving requests to turn on a news channel is sure to inspire fear. For linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), an attack is not what she finds, but instead, the arrival of interplanetary visitors.

12 identical pods set down at seemingly random coordinates around the Earth; and with no governing body, the human race soon discover how hard it can be to work together. In an effort to understand what the beings inside these devices want, US army officer Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) enlists the help of experts such as Banks and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).

What could be described as animalistic sounds make up the spoken dialogue for the visitors, suggesting that beings don’t have to speak a seemingly humanoid dialect to be considered sentient and intelligent. Their written language however, is where things truly start to get interesting.

Differing reactions and interactions had by each country outline the various responses we as humanity have to new situations. From wanting to learn about what we don’t know, to fearing and aiming to destroy the unknown. Not to mention that blaringly obvious and unnervingly accurate spotlight on how badly opposing governing bodies communicate with eachother.

Two factors that seemed fresh in this sci-fi film where Banks’ continued nervousness and Weber’s desire for understanding. No matter how many times Adam’s character faced these semi-unknown beings, it was still made clear that she was uncertain and, at least mildly, nervous. And instead of a gung-ho military type ready to kill anything out of the norm, Whitaker portrays a man who honestly wants to understand the purpose of these visitors.

Meanwhile, the necessity of Renner’s character is questionable to say the least. While he plays the part wonderfully, his role as a theoretical physicist seems pointless after initial contact. It is obvious that he is allowed to continue his role in assisting Dr. Banks simply to develop the typical romantic subplot that all movies MUST have.

Besides the corny love storyline, Arrival makes for a different but enjoyable sci-fi movie.


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