(The Picket)- A group of Alien space crafts make landing on earth and the human race is forced to react in ways it sees fit. This feels like the plot to every movie on extraterrestrials since the 1950s from ET to Close Encounters, to Mars Attacks. We have a fascination with making contact beyond our own world. This is the part of our general human psyche that make Arrival and films like irresistible.
Often alien encounter films feature humanity being attacked or hunted by the creatures coming in for a visit, or simply starting a war by our own human error. This is where Arrival goes off the established script of sci-fi history and breaks new ground. Arrival focuses not on the idea of the creatures coming to attack but on the simple concept of how would or could we communicate with something beyond our own world and human understanding. Our main protagonist on this journey is a professor and linguist, Dr. Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams. Louise is quirky, beautiful, and a steady out-of-the-box thinker; proving early in the film that she can think outside the box. This is precisely why Colonel Weber, played by Forest Whitaker, wants her on his team to establish communication and discern the intent of these creatures. Louise along with Jeremy Renner’s physicist Ian Donnelly become the major link between the U.S. and an alien species come to earth.
Adam’s performance as Louise makes her beautifully relatable as she navigates not only the film’s questions on the encounter, but questions about how we respond to time, and if knowing your destiny can cause you to change it. Renner’s Donnelly is awkward but handsome in his way, and it’s easy to see the love interest pull starting in the outset. If we have a low point for actors it is Whitaker’s two dimensional Colonel Weber, though the script really doesn’t give him much to work with here.
The most spectacular start of the film is the cinematography, this feels real and gritty. The film is less shiny in lighting and effects than other encounter pictures like Independence Day. This makes it seem close to our real world. The aliens themselves are scary in their difference but not horrifically so, somehow more like a creature you could meet at the bottom of the ocean. The light touch on CGI effects and visuals, which so much of scifi film has come to rely on, makes this refreshingly new.
Overall, this is a Pick-it film for anyone who loves sci-fi, or was a true fan of Close Encounters. A wonderful picture that gives us questions to ponder about our own nature and how we respond to the alien and different.
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Jessica Sharpless is a reporter for the Picket and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org