Arrival (2016) Review

Arrival (2016)

Directed by Denis Villeneuve

Based on Story Of Your Life by Ted Chiang

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A linguist is recruited by the military to assist in translating alien communications.

My Opinion:

YES!!!! This is good sci-fi. This is what I wanted when I watched Interstellar & was left extremely disappointed. This is intelligent sci-fi that doesn’t feel the need to dumb things down for its audience but also isn’t up its own self-important arse (like, you know, Interstellar). I didn’t look at my watch once while watching this & wonder if the movie was in fact five hours long (like I did with, you know, Interstellar). Okay – I’ll shut up about the massively overrated Interstellar now (I promise!). I’m just happy that Arrival is a great high-concept sci-fi film that can easily stand alongside some of the best classics of its genre (unlike a 2014 Christopher Nolan-directed, Matthew McConaughey-starring sci-fi film that shall remain nameless).

Arrival is a movie of two parts (like all the very best science fiction films): The cool alien shit and how humanity deals with their arrival as well as the more personal “human story” (involving the character of Amy Adams) at its heart. I’m not one for overly-sentimental stories in films as they so often feel contrived but Arrival handles the story involving Adams and her personal life beautifully & I found it very moving and not at all cloying (like I may have found with another film I won’t mention but that starts with the letter I).

I’m not great at handling these emotional films! Between Arrival, Room & Nocturnal Animals (although that Amy Adams film, which I reviewed HERE yesterday, was emotional in the completely opposite way), 2016 has been quite a year for movies that had me reeling with their sheer intensity. By the way – Room was 2016 in the UK so don’t correct me. 😉

Anyway, my “reeling” comment sounded corny. Sorry! But I’m not sure how else to describe that feeling you get from those films that are so well-made, through I suppose a combination of great directing, acting, cinematography, story, atmosphere, music, etc etc, that you end up fully immersed in the world of the film. It’s weird – movies seem to be getting worse & worse in recent years but the GOOD ones are actually getting better & better. There’s a huge divide now between the (many) bad films and the (sadly far fewer) films that are so amazingly good that they almost transcend reality. Okay – that really did sound corny.

My point is this: Arrival is possibly one of the transcendent ones. I knew I’d struggle writing about it but I’ve thought about it a lot since seeing it a week & a half ago. With movies like these, I don’t like to write about them until I’ve had enough time to sort out my thoughts. I currently have this ranked just below Room on my 2016 list as it still didn’t manage to move me quite as much as Jacob Tremblay’s scarily good performance in that. However, Arrival is the better film overall. The look, the story, the relationships (particularly the main one involving Amy Adams), the message, the aliens(!)… There’s nothing I love more than a good alien film! I loved Arrival & movies like these are what keep me watching & loving them despite having to sift through so many bad ones.

I’m not great with words (making this blogging thing a massive struggle) so I’ll just leave it at this: Arrival is a damn good film. I’d love to hear from anyone who feels the same. Or even anyone who feels differently and prefers science fiction movies starring Anne Hathaway & directed by Jonathan Nolan’s brother. And, please oh please, will you discuss Nocturnal Animals with me in the comments of that review if you’ve seen it??? That movie absolutely floored me. You’ve had one hell of a month, Amy Adams!

My Rating: 9/10

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29 thoughts on “Arrival (2016) Review

  1. While we definitely see Interstellar differently we are 100% on the same page with Arrival. I so love this movie. I went in pretty optimistic but I left blown away. I wasn’t expecting to have the experience I did.

    • Yeah, I think a lot disagree with me on Interstellar. ; ) 100% the same on Arrival indeed, though! I wasn’t expecting the experience that I had either. I expected it to be good but not as amazingly good as it actually was. LOVED it. : )

  2. I completely forgot that Room was a 2016 release here! That’s scuppered my original Top 10 thoughts, ha!
    I absolutely love your Interstellar rants, I honestly don’t actually remember much of the movie now so it can’t have been as good as I originally thought.
    Arrival however is my favourite movie of the entire year!
    – Allie

    • Lol! It’s so annoying that we get the big “Oscar” films released in December in the US in either January or February here. Since I’m nerdy about making end-of-year lists, I’ve decided I just have to always go by the UK release date! : ) Too confusing otherwise. Hehe – glad you like my Interstellar rants. See? You’ve proved my point by not remembering much of it! ; ) Arrival, however, is an amazing piece of filmmaking. : )

  3. Ha ha–Interstellar is actually really well-loved at my house (it’s my husband’s all-time favorite movie). 😉 But I am so intrigued by Arrival; I haven’t made it to the theater to see it yet but it’s definitely on my list. I just keep hearing great things about it. Love your reviews!

    • That’s okay – I think a lot of people disagree with me on Interstellar! ; ) Thank you! I struggled with this review (probably why I found it easier to just bitch about Interstellar. Lol). There are almost no words for how good this film is. Which is funny as communication is so central to the plot. I highly recommend it! Try to see it if you can. : )

  4. I could not bring myself to see Interstellar. I can have no respect for someone who deliberately abandons their family. At least the sea explorers, who knew they could die at sea, were planning on being able to come back to their families. I could not respect the character so I couldn’t find any real reason to see the movie.

    I have not yet seen Arrival. It is on my list. But my over all feeling is that this is ‘Contact’ for a new generation.

    • Hmm. Well, I clearly didn’t like Interstellar so will admit I remember little of it. ; ) But I was thinking he thought he’d be coming back to his family… And wasn’t he leaving to save humanity or something? Wow – I honestly don’t remember and a film like that should be far more memorable! All I remember is that it tried far too hard & felt horribly contrived. The young actress was very good but I didn’t care about anyone else (and pretty much hated Jessica Chastain). Yes, I very much got a Contact vibe from Arrival. Arrival is amazing – I honestly have no complaints. I hope you check it out! : )

    • Yes, you should definitely see Arrival. It’s amazing. : ) I did think the young actress playing the daughter in Interstellar was very good. She’s the only character I cared about. Unfortunately, I didn’t like Jessica Chastain, which then ruined that storyline for me.

  5. Yesss! You and I had similar reactions to this excellent film! It’s EXACTLY what Interstellar needed to be; it had that human element the former was lacking! I think I’m going to see it again. I could barely muster a proper review, because I just had no words.

    • Yesss! Someone who finally agrees with me on Interstellar!!! lol. Interstellar wasn’t “bad” but it just left me completely cold. It felt like it thought it was far smarter than it was and the “pull at the heartstrings” moments felt so fake & contrived. Arrival was the exact opposite when it came to Adams & her more personal story – I almost lost it in the cinema & I’m not an overly emotional person. I find it SO hard to review the movies I really love (since I’m not a writer & just like to chat about films with fellow film lovers). I put off writing this one for a week & a half…

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  7. One of my favourite films of the year. An intelligent sci-fi that pulled you in with its smarts and emotions. Plus Amy Adams was so excellent and moving in her delivery.

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