More than Sci-Fi: A Review of ‘Arrival’



By Katie Green

Arrival: an alien movie that ends up being more about the human race than about aliens. In this Denis Villeneuve directed sci-fi film, linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is set with the task of communicating with an alien race that has parked 12 mysterious spacecrafts on Earth.

While it probably won’t win, Arrival was definitely deserving of its best picture nomination in this year’s Academy Awards. It takes the stereotypical ‘alien’ movie and turns it on its head, provoking a deeper conversation about the human race and its actions in the face of the unknown. Why we do the things we do, and say the things we say. It expresses the importance of language and how it can be used as a tool or weapon. Arrival features a stellar cast, incredible writing, and a soundtrack that will make you want to have a Taylor Swift-esque listening party with all your alien friends.

So, first and foremost, the cast. The cast of Arrival delivers performances that don’t feel forced or over dramatic but still display the urgency of the situation. I mean, there are aliens on Earth, obviously things are going to be a BIT dramatic. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner lead the film as Louise Banks and Ian Donnelly, a linguist and physicist tasked with communicating with the heptapods (the aliens). They have this understanding of each other and friendship that you really believe throughout the film, despite all its twists and turns. Forest Whitaker also makes an appearance as Colonel G T Weber, who is pretty much just stressed out about the aliens and yells at Amy Adams about it. But we get it and we forgive him, because aliens are stressful.

Just when you think the story is going somewhere, and you’re comfortable with it, Arrival is like “nah, this is where I REALLY want to take you”. The ending is so good it almost hurts that I can’t tell you all about it, so please make an effort to go see this one. Adapted from Ted Chiang’s short story ‘Story of Your Life’, the script throws you all over the place but manages to put all the pieces together at the end and make sense of everything. I’d be happy to see Arrival take home best adapted screenplay.

Last but sooooo not least is the soundtrack, because it was my favourite part. It’s not catchy, it’s not even really pleasant to listen to, but it fits the story SO well. To be honest, it just sounds like a lot of whale sounds and grunting (I should know, I sang along to it every time) but it screams Arrival and nothing would have fit the film’s theme better. You can check out this soundtrack (as well as all the other nominees for best score) on my Academy Awards 2017 Spotify playlist.

All in all, I think Arrival knocks it out of the park in every way, but it got crap luck being nominated in the same year as La La Land (which WILL win). However, we all know these award shows can sometimes be shocking, so never say never. Nevertheless, put this film at the top of your watch list. I’ll be watching it again and praying that we never get an alien invasion because I’m not sure the aliens would be able to communicate in gifs and sarcasm.

About the Author: Katie is a makeup artist/blogger from the Great White North (AKA, good ol’ Canada). She spends her time creating YouTube videos, writing about anything that crosses her mind, and living vicariously through episodes How I Met Your Mother. You can check out her videos here. Or follow Katie on Twitter and at her Blog.