MOVIE REVIEW: Arrival's subtle take on sci-fi is refreshing

Amy Adams in a scene from the movie Arrival.
Amy Adams in a scene from the movie Arrival. Contributed

FOR all of the things to say about Denis Villeneuve's new, heady sci-fi epic Arrival it's the attention to subtlety that really makes this movie as compelling and inspiring as it is.

That is, of course, an unusual thing to say about a film that follows a special team attempting to communicate peacefully with the crew of one of several alien vessels that unexpectedly arrive on Earth.

Sure, the story unfolds against a massive, world-changing backdrop but it never gives in to the temptation of falling into Independence Day-style, action film territory or get so caught up with its own philosophical and scientific ideas that the story gets lost in the process (see Interstellar).

Instead, Arrival has one idea that it wants to convey and gives it the attention and detail it deserves.

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in a scene from the movie Arrival.
Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner in a scene from the movie Arrival. Contributed

It may feel complicated and, admittedly, slightly confusing at times but when Arrival reaches the third act, everything is resolved in such a satisfying way that it's easily one of the most joyful experiences the movies have had to offer this year.

Amy Adams puts in one of her most intimate performances as linguistics doctor Louise Banks. She is complimented by a simple colour palette and soundscape executed with such skill that the entire film has this constant feeling of grandeur.

It's easy to see how this brand of philosophical science fiction can often alienate the general audience, but if you listen to what Arrival has to say then you won't be disappointed with the journey it takes you on.


Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker.

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Rating: M

Verdict: 4.5/5 stars

Topics:  arrival movies sci-fi

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