Arrival  is Denis Villeneuve’s most recent work to continue his streak of high-quality films (Sicario, Enemy, Prisoners). Starring in the film are Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner as two advisors aiding the U.S. Government, trying to decipher the language of an alien race that has arrived at Earth. Backed up by horror screenwriter Eric Heisserer, Arrival slams onto the screen with a balance of drama, mystery and a slight touch of fear.
Showing Off: The direction and cinematography are the highlights of Arrival. Villeneuve knows how great of a director he is and it shows almost instantly in the first ten minutes of the film. This, of course, is just custom, as he is well-known for setting a jaw-dropping tone immediately (think the drug raid opening to Sicario or the religious fold foreshadowing in Prisoners). It helps to have Amy Adams as the lead actress, who really overperforms and gives a huge surprise of talent. Along with the visuals and acting execution, the sound editing and placement are nearly perfect.
Reanimation of Sci-Fi: A good case could be made that Nolan’s Interstellar was the recent attempt to give the Sci-Fi film genre a comeback from the popularity it had in the 1980s. But for those that had doubts about this statement, you can be assured that Arrival has anchored the Sci-Fi genre into the 2010s. Villeneuve and Heisserer made a combined effort to deliver a modern day Close Encounters of the Third Kind but without the pandering homogeneity of what Hollywood typically produces in the modern era. As a Sci-Fi film, Arrival does use some of the old tools but everything is still a surprise! A truly fresh sight! The unique part of this film was the limited times that the audience has to suspend disbelief. What I mean by this is that Arrival is actually able to deliver the story without those moments of “oh that would never happen” - except for the part about aliens coming to Earth...because that would never happen...right?
Impactful: Arrival will have any viewer questioning life on their way out of the movie theater - I know I still am! But seriously, the film has the ability to really make someone ponder on how the powers of the world operate amongst each other and why. Arrival asks questions and answers them with absolute certainty.
Few Miss Steps: Arrival does not waste time in the beginning and pulls the audience into the world that Villeneuve creates. Then after what seems like just a few minutes, the film has already created an immersive narrative between humans and aliens and the implications of how we operate our world. All of these upsides allow the audience to ignore the obvious miscast of Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner who at times deliver some very choppy and misplaced dialogue.