Movie Review: Arrival

While watching the beginning of this excellent science fiction movie about the arrival of aliens entitled “Arrival”, I remember thinking after seeing the tragedy the main character in this movie Dr. Louise Banks goes through in the very beginning of this story, “How can anyone get through something like that and go on with their life afterward?” Then I thought that one way would be to be called to help the United States Military to communicate with Aliens that just arrived in the form of 12 egg-like pods around the world. At least the importance and the enormity of a task like this would be something that would at least distract her from her recent tragedy, so that just maybe she would be temporarily able to move on with her life. As it turns out this tragedy at the beginning of this film, is a thread that connects all the elements of this entire story and results in a surprise ending that might be considered as surprising and impressive as “The Sixth Sense”, that was released in 1999.

The part of Dr. Banks is played very well by Amy Adams is a world famous professor and linguist and should a miracle on the scale of aliens visiting us from some other world, millions or billions of light years away ever happen, who better to be called than an expert on Language and Communication and Mathematics. The Mathematics professor role is also played by very well Jeremy Renner. Over the years many movies about aliens visiting us from other planets have been made but this is the first one I can remember that had everything to do with the cerebral aspects of such an event, rather than the same old special effects and war confrontations almost every other movie like this has been made before. For the first time in my experience with movies like this, the science aspects of how the world would handle this kind of an amazing event was addressed. During an an alien visit like this one, we would have great difficulty communicating with the aliens, they would not look like us at all (in this case they looked like Octopus-like creatures), everything about the way they think would be different including how they would interact with all the laws of physics including most importantly, the aspect of time. In this movie it was suggested that these aliens do not think of time in a linear way, instead, their concept of time can exist at any point in time. Any alien method of writing and communicating would be vastly different that ours; in this case, the aliens write using smoke-like circular symbols that Dr. Banks works on translating during a majority of this film. I thought all of the science and mathematics behind trying to understand these very complex smoke circles was extremely well done in this movie and even believable, when the communication codes behind them were finally understood towards the end of the story.

As would happen in real life, the Unites States military is involved with the alien arrival and the head of the operation Colonel Weber is played very well by Forest Whitaker. During the movie, there are several conflicts between the scientists and the military as well as the decisions of other countries in dealing with the other alien spaceships that have landed in 11 other locations around the world. When the word “weapon” comes up during the conversations with the alien creatures, several countries starting with China overreact and this causes some major conflicts as the movie concludes. The conclusion of this movie is both surprising and outstanding and ties everything together perfectly and for me reminded me of the ending of the Sixth Sense.

The movie Arrival is a great production and gets my highest recommendation.

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