Arrival
So I'm gonna just come right out and say it, this was the best film of 2016 so far - I have been out of the theatre for about 45 minutes and I am still thinking about it. Last time, I felt similarly about a movie was after watching Inception.
Acting
Directing
Script
Cinematography
Timeless
The Good
  • Perfect non-linear story telling
  • Amazing cinematography
  • Awesome cast - especially Amy Adams
The Bad
  • Oops, there is nothing here
4.7Overall Score
Reader Rating: (10 Votes)

So I’m gonna just come right out and say it, this was the best film of 2016 so far – I have been out of the theater for about 45 minutes and I am still thinking about it. Last time, I felt similarly about a movie was after watching Inception.

Arrival starts us up with a heavy hitter right within the very first minutes – setting the tone more on the dark end right away (but I guess by now, one should not expect a cheerful happy-go-lucky when Denis Villeneuve is on the package). Based on the trailer, one might think that the film is going be a more intelligent and darker version of Independence Day – but it is so much more than that. Ultimately, the science-fiction alien part of the movie is more just vehicle to carry the real message of the film: The power of language and science: how it can help us, what it can do it to us and how we can use it, if we really understand what it is all about. And the film goes to really great lengths to explain its message to us without hitting the audience on the nose with it. There is still a good amount of thinking required and it leaves a lot of room to after-movie-banter (in the most awesome way) – I basically understood a big piece of the film just by talking about it afterwards.

Courtesy of http://http://www.thetimes.co.uk

Courtesy of http://http://www.thetimes.co.uk

The theme as well as the art of storytelling with lots of time jumps to knit the story together is definitely a risky strategy – if you’re not Quentin Tarantino or Chris Nolan (i.e. one of the most giften directors in the world), this is a typical pitfall for lots of films if not done right. But my hats off Denis Villeneuve – he does literally everything right in his approach. The film takes the exact right amount of time for just about everything; building up the characters in past, future and present while laying out the stakes and conveying the challenges of getting the message right from the our friends from outer space.

Amy Adams yet again delivers a stellar performance and is the absolute star of this film – I am already calling a nomination for her as best actress in a leading role. Jeremy Renner is doing a fine job but doesn’t get the screen time to show shine as much as Adams does. The cinematography and direction of the film are also nothing short of amazing – and I’m quite sure will and shall be recognized in some shape of form. I feel with this film Villeneuve has finally delivered a fully perfect cinematic piece –  Sicario and Prisoners were both solid films, amazingly shot and beautiful in their darkness but had some scripting problems (especially Sicario) which left me somewhat disappointed. Especially since I could see that Villeneuve is certainly a gifted director – and with the arrival of Arrival (I know) he has truly given me what I have been wanting to see.

2 Responses

  1. Stephen

    Great review! I also loved it and gave it a personal 4.5. I also really liked the cinematography (e.g. the beautiful fog cloud descending towards the big egg). In retrospect I also realized that it is tough for a movie to actually show the aliens in physical form as you really risk them looking ridiculous or unrealistic and it can throw the whole movie off, but somehow it worked for this movie. The aliens felt somewhat “natural” (and for a movie about floating octopuses that is quite a statement).

    The absolute only thing I think could have been better was the score, it just felt a bit generic and not as beautiful or interesting as warranted by the cinematography.

    Look forward to the rest of your pre-oscar reviews!

    Reply
    • Armin Fakouhi

      Thanks Stephen – I guess you’re right, the score is certainly nothing which really stuck with me as it has with other movies in the past. But the overall achievement of this film was really fantastic – thanks for the reader revie

      Reply

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