At The Movies: Arrival

I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

No, I’m not talking about the election results. I’m talking about the near-unanimous acclaim being heaped upon the new science fiction thriller “Arrival.”

I mean, yeah, it’s a good movie — but it’s not that good. It’s slow and plodding with a soundtrack that thinks loud screeching noise is acceptable. It does have an interesting plot and an engaging cast, but like many hyped-up sci-fi films — “Interstellar” and “Contact” come to mind — it blows the landing.

arrival-1.jpgWhen multiple spaceships suddenly show up on Earth, the nations of the world set up work sites near the giant pods to deal with these mysterious visitors.

Here at home, U.S. Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) assembles the best and brightest to the cause. Chief among them are linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).

At certain times of day, humans are allowed to board the ship and try to communicate with the squid-like aliens (You would think a species intelligent enough to master interstellar travel would’ve worked out a way to communicate with the natives before arriving, but I guess not).

Louise has some breakthroughs in talking to the visitors but things are taking too long and some nations, particularly China, are losing patience. Will Louise and Ian be able to crack the squid-people’s language before someone starts lobbing bombs at their pods?

Directed by Denis Villeneuve and based on the short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, “Arrival” starts off in compelling fashion, as a frightened world comes to grips with aliens in the midst. Adams, Renner and Whitaker give strong performances. It’s interesting watching Louise explain how she’s trying to build a language with the aliens.

And then comes The Twist. I won’t go into it here, partly because I don’t want to ruin it for you and partly because I didn’t really understand it. Something to do with “non-linear time” and I’ll leave it at that.

Hey, a lot of people liked this movie so it’s probably just me. But then I just went to a spoiler site and found out that I was pretty much right in what I thought was going on. But I’m still not impressed.


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