We finally have a sci-fi alien movie that isn’t action-packed, violent, invasion based, and cheesy. How refreshing. From director Denis Villeneuve comes the story of Arrival, which centers on the arrival of twelve alien ships to earth with unknown intentions. For the first time in an alien movie the United Sates decides to forego attacking the aliens head-on and attempts to work with other nations to communicate with them. And yes, I know there are probably several exceptions to the US attacking outright in movies, but I’m making a point. In their attempts to communicate with the aliens, the US acquires the services of linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), both of whom work to uncover the meaning of the alien language, how it works, and why the aliens are there in the first place.
Louise and Ian start a several months-long process of getting the two aliens, dubbed Abbott and Costello, on the ship that landed in the US to understand English. They learn that the aliens communicate via a written language that is circular and continuing in nature with varying degrees of differences in each circle to indicate different words and meanings. As they learn more and more about the alien’s language and why they came to Earth, they begin to notice that they are having visions and glimpses into the future. The alien language is the key to unlocking time and being able to manipulate it and see what needs to be seen. Because of this, they learn why the aliens are there, to help humanity harness time itself, and Louise is able to use this new-found knowledge to stop other nations from attacking the aliens and peace is able to be reached.
The movie is definitely a different take on the alien genre and creates a unique story that focuses on the importance of language and the meaning of our words. The use of accurate English tactics, language learning techniques and science (as accurate as you can get in an alien movie) adds a believability to this movie that makes it an engaging story. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner both played their parts well, with equally good performances from the other actors, and the movie was fun to watch. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this movie. I didn’t know much about it going into it, but I was genuinely and pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. But, as always, I encourage you to go and see the movie for yourself and experience a movie that is unique and really makes you think about the importance of language and the meaning behind the words that we say.