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  • Writer's pictureGuy Jeffries

Arrival Review

Director: Denis Villeneuve.

Denis Villeneuve, director of last year's looming, dark Sicario, has a dabble with science fiction, about some otherworldly visitors with unclear intentions. It's central to Amy Adams' Dr. Louise Banks, a linguist who is enlisted by the U.S. Military to attempt to communicate and understand the visitors reasons.

Recruited by stern, demanding Col. Weber (Forest Whitaker) and teamed up with scientific mathematician Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) they travel out to a remote beautiful part of Montana to start conversation with the extra-terrestrials.

Something that is always a challenge for this particular genre is the creativity, as there can be endless possibilities but also that danger of becoming so unbelievable it becomes ridiculous or possibly annoying. Fortunately it's a believable story and has a deeper meaning than just the usual alien encounters with an unknown purpose. Are they friend or foe and if they're no threat then what do they want?

What is an integral part of the plot is that the this isn't the only encounter and is actually one of twelve hovering above supposedly strategic locations around the globe, which still remain a mystery. As usual, Hollywood has to give the American point of view with the rest of world taking a back seat or worse, being disgruntled, fearful trouble-makers. In fact, there's possibly more of a threat from our own actions.

It's tackles how we, as a human race might deal with an unexplored situation like this and begs to question humanity as a whole, hoping that our stupidity does not get the better of us. There's so much more to the plot than what any trailer suggests and whilst almost agreeing with the hype of being "the greatest sci-fi movies in years" it isn't entirely original or unpredictable having elements of Signs and Contact.

Things get weird, and like with Interstellar, all isn't what it seems and while some of it is predictable, it's clever enough to not give everything away, even at the end, some questions remain unanswered, leaving viewers in wonder and discussion.

Darkness is no alien to Villeneuve's style and his use of light is brilliant, especially during the conversations and visions. But what is incredible is the sound, the language sounding like whale song or elephants. Again reminding me both of Signs and Contact where sound was a key element of the films.

The score is also amazing, Villeneuve's usual composer Jóhann Jóhannsson composes an immersive soundtrack especially the vocal/choral songs like "Kangaru" and the build up like "Hydraulic Lift" that raises the tension tenfold but there's a certain ambience about it as well.

Superbly paced, it's suspenseful and engaging. While there are plenty of moments where viewers might get lost, it rushes to its conclusion before it gets complete confusing. Intriguing plot, strong performances and good creativity makes it's a definite must-see, even for non-sci-fi fans.

Running Time: 9

The Cast: 9

Performance: 9

Direction: 9

Story: 9

Script: 8

Creativity: 9

Soundtrack: 10

Job Description: 10

The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for a clever, not-what-you-think-it-is sci-fi thriller.

Would I buy the Blu-ray?: Yes.

92% 9/10

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