Friday, November 11, 2016

Arrival [2016]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McCarthy) review
Los Angeles Times (K. Turan) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (A.A.Dowd) review

Arrival [2016] directed by Denis Villeneuve, screenplay by Eric Heisserer, based on the story "Story of your Life" [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] by Ted Chiang [wikip] [GR] [WCat] [Amzn] [IMDb]) is a quite thoughtful / cerebral (read also rather _slow moving_ if beautifully shot) "first contact" Sci-Fi story that has _much more in common_ with 2001: A Space Odyssey [1968] than, well, the shoot-em-up Independence Day [1996, 2016] scenarios.

This is not to say that the arrival of twelve _enormous_ stone monolith-like objects from (...??) to earth, piloted apparently by a race of "septopods" (with _big_ octopus-like heads and seven elephant-trunk-like appendages), was not scary.  And yes, governments / intelligence services all around the world were scrambling to get answers to the obvious questions: Why were they here?  Where did they come from?  What did they want?

Yet, when U.S. Army Colonel Weber (played dead-on by Forest Whitaker) comes, hat-in-hand, to Ivy-League linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks (played wonderfully by Amy Adams), it's clear that getting answers to these urgent questions was not going to be easy:  How do these aliens communicate at all?

The film becomes a fascinating meditation on the very nature of language, taking adage that "every language we learn gives us a new/different way of perceive the world" to a, well, SciFi-ish extreme ;-).  Still one fascinating if certainly "cerebral" (if also beautifully shot) movie.

Good job!

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