Film Review: ‘Arrival’ tells an unconventional story of peace

Olivia Hoekstra, Staff Writer

“Arrival” is not a typical end of-the-world alien movie where aliens dominate the Earth and everyone is going to die. Instead, the aliens in this new release are mysterious and intellectual beings of knowledge and not warfare. Director Denis Villeneuve creates mystery and makes humans seem more simply human. In this film, it is the aliens who are the teachers, not the humans.

The film starts with college professor Doctor Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist specialist, teaching a class. A student turns on the news to see twelve rock-like alien pods landing on all different parts of the earth. Banks is approached by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), the head of a researching team trying to figure out why the aliens are on earth. He asks Banks to come help solve the mysterious alien language.

After some time and tribulation, she goes to the alien rock pod in America, where she meets Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a fellow scientist. They go on trying to understand the alien language, which looks like ink blots. As they learn more, they discover these aliens are more peaceful. However, other people around the world do not agree that the aliens are just there to help us. Other world leaders with pods in countries, like Russia and China, stop sharing information and turn against each other and the aliens.

The characters grow as they learn more about the aliens. Dr. Louise Bank is a smart, strong female protagonist who becomes more aware of their knowledge; people learn from the aliens and do not fear them. The aliens help Banks start to see the world in a different way. Dr. Banks resembles the character Murph “Interstellar” played by Jessica Chastain, as they are both roles with analytical and cunning force.

The story’s underlying message is that everyone in the world fears each other when they believe they are the threatened and they turn on each other. The director also shows a stereotypical way of looking at the aliens with the characters from the other countries. These people fear the aliens and assume the worst. Denis Villeneuve gives viewers a new way of looking at an alien movie as he makes a story that is about humans coming together for peace and not in violence, unlike other movies of this genre like “Independence Day” or “Aliens,” where the aliens are the bad guys and they are there to kill.

Adams is on center stage in “Arrival,” as she steals the show with her strong intellect and her brave portrayal of Dr. Banks. In the film, she shows her emotions with her love for the aliens as she sees them as part of her life and the future for humanity. She gives depth to the character as shows that she is not a perfect person, and she accepts her fault and shows the audience her vulnerability.

Compared to Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner is more in the shadows because Adams is so strong. He does a good job in the film, giving emotional and passion to role with his care of the aliens. He also does have a couple good comic moments that you can expect from Jeremy Renner. However, he falls flat compared to Adams because she is so charismatic and she resembles a strong female character that people connect with.

The movie also includes elements from the movie “Oblivion” and “Interstellar.” These movies both look at a more intellectual view of aliens and how they can help us, but in both these movies, the aliens are human. The great thing about “Arrival” is that it makes humans not the center of the world. It shows that we do not have all the answers and are not the only thing in the world with all the answers.

This science-fiction thriller is full of beautiful moments of profound visually stunning arrays. The movie has a tasteful amount of CGI in a generation of overdone CGI film. The film has beautiful cinematography with many different shots and angles.

The movie is intellectual and thought-provoking. It shows great character development and many different points of view. For me, I love thought-provoking films, and I was not quite sure of this film when I saw the trailer because there is so many alien movies out there and sometimes they can blend together with the same stereotypes and themes. I was really surprised how this film defies the genre and makes the film interesting but still has mystery and excitement.

Grade A-
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 118 minutes
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, and Michael Stuhlbarg