ARRIVAL: The Most Stunning Theater Experience of the Year

By: Ryan Beard


Arrival is a movie that I was very excited about. The trailers were solid, and didn’t give anything away in regards to story. The director of the film, a Canadian director by the name of Denis Villeneuve, is one of my favorite working today. He directed the 2013 film Prisoners, and in 2015 he made the fantastic thriller film Sicario. So, it is safe to say that I was on the edge of my seat when the opening credits faded onto the screen. And, this movie certainly did not disappoint.

The film opens slowly, introducing its main character, a linguist named Dr. Louise Banks, and her daily routine working at a west coast college. In short, twelve massive alien ships lands all around the world, and absolutely nobody knows why or how they are there. Dr. Banks is tasked by the U.S. Army to communicate with the aliens inside their mammoth ship, which has landed in Montana. That is all of the plot lines that should be disclosed before seeing the film, because the plot of this film takes you for a ride. Not only an entertaining ride trying to discern why certain events are happening to Dr. Banks as she communicates with the aliens, but also an emotional ride, as the audience learns more about the life of Dr. Banks, and it all culminates in one of the most riveting and emotional finales in a film in recent years. Needless to say, Arrival has one of the most different plot lines of the year, and it is handled excellently by everyone involved.

The direction of Arrival, from director Denis Villeneuve is as usual: tension-building and captivating. He uses camera movement like no other director working today. There is a magnetic sequence when a group of scientists first encounter the aliens in their ship, that is the most gripping and eerily unnerving scenes of the year. Denis Villeneuve continues to produce some of the most original and thrilling films of this decade, and from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop any time soon. Another aspect of the production that is top-notch, is the cinematography. The cinematographer of this film is the same cinematographer that shot the 2014 film Selma, and also the 2014 film A Most Violent Year. His name is Bradford Young, and he is one of the most promising up-and- coming DPs in the American film industry, and you can see why. This movie is gorgeous. It has massive wide takes of the Montana landscapes enshrouded in fog, with the huge ship punctuating and barren terrain. Also, the indoor scenes of this film are vibrantly lit with warm orange tones when Dr. Banks is first learning information, and cool blue tones when she is in her element, deciphering the language of the aliens. In short, Arrival is the visually best-looking film of the year in my opinion, and needs to be seen on the big screen.

Also, the acting in Arrival is spot-on. Amy Adam’s performance as the confused and diligent Dr. Banks is very effective, and she perfectly portrays the angry and somber emotions of a character seeing strange visions that she cannot understand. Also, Jeremy Renner is very good as her partner, a Physicist named Ian Donnelly, is the most humorous and likeable character in the film. Overall, the cast in the film is fantastic, and is nearly perfectly cast for the roles they play. Finally, one complaint with this movie is that its plot can be confusing upon a first viewing. But, after watching it for a second time, the plot came together for me, and I appreciated more of its depth and intrigue. But, it is still a very understandable film upon a first watch.

I would definitely recommend Arrival. It is technically flawless and has an original plot line, and is one of the best films of the year in my opinion.


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