When you hear the term “Sci-Fi” you think about people turning in zombies or aliens trying to kill the American race or Star Wars / Star Trek. I must admit, I am not the biggest fan of this genre. I’ll watch it for entertainment, but it’s not one I tend to gravitate toward. I think that’s why I waited to see Arrival so late in the game.
Yes, Arrival is about aliens and 12 Heptipods in which they are housed. But it is so much more than that. It’s about time. How were perceive time, how we use our time, and how time affects our decisions.
We first meet Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist and professor, in one of her classes. She is interrupted by the cell phones of her students telling them about the curious ships that had touched down all over the world. The day they arrived an uproar began. Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) is tasked with finding a team of experts that can help figure out the questions “what do they want? where are they from?”. He recruits Louise as well as mathematician, Dr. Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner). They, however, are not the first experts that have tried to figure it out.
Every 18 hours a door in the “shell” (that’s what they are calling the ship) opens, but is only open for 2 hours. The team, dressed in hazmat suits and microphone helmets are then lifted into the shell. The first trip into the shell for Louise and Ian don’t go quite as planned. They both get extremely sick and shaky with little to no progress to show for it.
Louise isn’t going to give up that easily. She takes a dry erase board with her on the next trip in order to see if their reading function is better than their speaking.
Just when she thinks it’s not going to work, she takes off all of her protective gear so they can see here and interact with her on a more personal level. She walks up to the glass and places her hand over it. The alien does the same. They then get their first of many symbols in which the aliens convey words and phrases.However, it’s not as simple as that. The words have to be taught to them slowly. Sentences have to be shown based on the structures. This takes months, and Louise starts to feel some side effects. She starts having visions of what the times seems like flashbacks of this little girl. The aliens, which we now know as Abbott and Castello, have started to do their purpose by showing Louise the way.
Like I said it’s not easy. There are 12 Heptipods. That means 12 different countries forced to work together. But once one of them gets spooked, one by one they go radio silent with the other countries. This forces Louise and Ian to have to work harder in order to save both the Human Race as well as the aliens. We find out later that one of the reasons the aliens came is so that Louise can share their language with the world.
This film is by far one of the best told stories I have ever seen. It pieces together scenes from the past, the present and the future with ease. The story flows seamlessly through the dimensions and it doesn’t take you out of the underlying story. The breathtaking writing, editing and cinematography should get high praise, and Amy Adams is just perfect in this role.
It is a visual, intellectual and beautiful masterpiece, even if it has the Sci-Fi genre attached to it. Even if you aren’t big into aliens and what not, please go rent this film. You will not regret it.
After you’ve seen it and want to read a little more about the ending, and how the story line flows, read this article on ScreenRant by Jared Canifield is really good.
*Click the film title at the top to view the trailer.*