Arrival is directed by Denis Villeneuve, and it stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, and Forest Whitaker. When aliens arrive and start ominously waiting in their ships at twelve different locations, the US government recruits a linguist (Adams) to attempt communication with them. As she attempts to learn their language and teach them ours, she begins to discover why exactly they are here.
Overall, I think that this has been a decent year in film, not fantastic, although not bad by any means. That is, up until two weeks ago. Seeing Doctor Strange and Hacksaw Ridge last week started the pendulum swinging in more of a positive direction. Both films were absolutely fantastic and if you haven't seen them, you definitely should. Arrival keeps the pendulum in full motion as it continues this streak of truly amazing films.
When watching this film, there was one word that consistently stood out to me. Cerebral. This film is one of the most thought-provoking films of the year. This film that makes you not only wonder what will happen next, but you will even find yourself constantly trying to predict the direction of the story. Despite your non-stop predictions, the film still finds ways to surprise you. Things that have been right in front of you the whole time, and things that you’ve noticed no less, take on entirely different meanings by the end of the film.
The performances given in this film were very good all around the table. Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker did good jobs. They each played their roles very capably and fit into the overall story well. The standout, as you might expect, was Amy Adams. Adams’ performance in this film was brilliant. It was without a doubt the best in the film. You could tell that she was fully committed to this character. She brought an immense amount of emotion and depth to the character, and it made her extremely compelling.
The tone built throughout the entire film was remarkably convincing. Arrival exists in an almost “What-if?” universe, meaning it portrays events how they would most likely happen in reality. What if twelve of these ships started ominously floating throughout the world? How would we react? What would everybody do? Those are the types of questions this film tackles.
There are two tools this film uses immensely to help build the tone. Those tools are music and cinematography. The music in the film, from Jóhann Jóhannsson, was utilized extremely well. There were moments where it grew increasingly louder in crescendos leading up, building both tension and wonder. The best decision Arrival made musically, was to completely exclude it from some key scenes. The silence of the situation helps to build suspense and pull the audience in more. The cinematography was also stunning. Cinematographer Bradford Young was able to convey the enormity of these objects in a very convincing way. Looking at these objects almost makes you feel small in the theater. Through a mix of Jóhannsson’s music and Young’s cinematography, this film finds it tone masterfully.
These past few weeks have given us some of the best films of the year, and Arrival will undoubtedly be in that discussion come to New Years. This film is a technical masterpiece, and it’s one of the most cerebral cinema-going experiences of the year. The film shines a light on humanity and how we, as a species, react under certain circumstances. The music and cinematography were extremely well utilized, and the film as a whole was nothing short of brilliant.
So what did you think of Arrival? Do you think it has any Oscar potential? Let me know by commenting on this post! Also, if you enjoyed this review, share it on Facebook and Twitter! It really helps! Don’t forget, I post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, so check back then for more movie reviews and miscellaneous movie thoughts!
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