Taking place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat.
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So, I saw this moive late at night with some wine at hand, it held my gaze and kept me wondering about what happens next. It's uniqe, chill, stilish and at times even gripping. Now, if you want to geek out and have a "true to life" sci-fi, then you won't like this flick. But if you want to immerse yourself for a couple of hours with the idea of taking to aliens, be my guest.
This was not the worst movie I've seen. I connected with the linguist and the aliens (to a lesser degree). They overplayed the globalism a bit for my taste especially as it applied to China's ultimate response.The lasting effect on the lead character is a tiresome, overplayed concept. The linguist did a decent job at carrying the movie and pulling me into the story. Although I like Forest Whitaker, he didn't fit this role IMHO. Something as monumental as alien contact would result in the best military leader the nation has to offer being sent to access and investigate. I don't think he pulled that role off.The alien crafts were very cool in their uniqueness as were the aliens themselves and their method of communication. I would have preferred more exposure to the aliens versus the mental travels of the professor. Reviews are rightfully all over the place (to an extent). I think the extreme (1-2 , 9-10) ratings are not representative of the movie by any fair perspective. I can see a 3 to 8 range of no bs ratings. I think it depends on your mood and expectations when you watch this film. A more relaxed mood when watching this film might generate a higher rating. A more energized mood while watching this film may make it seem like more of a disappointment as the action is fairly infrequent. To call this film a 1 or a 10 isn't practical by any stretch. If you think this is a 10, this means no other movie can top this one and can at best be equally good. If you rate it with 1 star, you are claiming no movie can be worst than this, only equally bad. I promise you. There are better films than this and worst ones.I think this film was too heavy in the cerebral arena and fails to give avid sci-fi fans enough exposure to the very unique aliens portrayed in this film. I would have preferred more glimpses of them and/or their home world versus glimpses into the mental travels of the professor.
This movie is a masterpiece. Everything about it is really good: the way it is written, directed, the soundtrack, cinematography, just perfect!It reminds me the Wittgenstein statement about the limits of our knowledge being equal to the limits of our language. As the main character acquires a new language, she is now able to see the world in a whole new perspective.It also passes a great message: that is, even though we know we are mortal, life is worth living.I really love this movie, really inspiring to me. Worth more than a single watch
Arrival has an interesting premise. Aliens arrive to planet Earth in 12 different spacecrafts with a mysterious mission, and in the US (which is of course the only location that matters in this film), linguist Louise Banks is brought aboard to decipher their language. Meanwhile, Louise seems to be having increasingly intense flashbacks about her daughter who died and husband who left her.I'm not sure if the filmmakers thought linguistics were too difficult for the audience to understand, or if they didn't really understand them either, but apart from a few key moments, the process Louise goes through to learn the aliens' language is vague and opaque. We don't know exactly how she does it, but a montage later, and suddenly she can speak to them in full sentences. How did we go from concrete, observable language (e.g. walk) to being able to communicate abstract concepts (e.g. purpose)? That part is glossed over entirely. It's still an interesting concept, and the circular way in which the aliens write holds an symbolic purpose, but it's not executed as well as it could be.While all of this is going on, there are scenes showing world affairs in response to the aliens (called heptapods). The filmmakers made a decision to involve no real-world political figures in the movie, which was probably for the best, but still manages to be distracting. It's all "the president" this, "the president" that, and a fictional Chinese general now seems to be leader of the entire Eastern world. News segments come across as corny and forced, as does a fictional rightwing conspiracy theorist. Of course, it's the Eastern world that decides to wage war on the heptapods, those unenlightened brutes, and Louise alone has the power to stop them. This all provides the only context and main conflict of the movie, but it is rather dull and contrived.Then there's the "flashbacks" and romance, which are interlinked. Early on, Louise is introduced to physicist Ian Donnelly, who comes across as arrogant, and the two spar a bit. Then they clearly begin to grow on one another. It's a very cliche, albeit subdued (remember, this is a serious film!), romance plot. Ian makes a throwaway line about how language informs our experience of reality (i.e., the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis), which ends up being the key to the whole movie. There's also a key "flashback" in which Louise tells her daughter her father is a scientist. While it's all pretty vague, the circular nature of the aliens' language, combined with the fact that Louise has come to think in their language, starts to make it clear that these aren't "flashbacks." Ian is her husband, and their daughter dies; because Louise has been given the gift of the heptapods' language, she now sees time as they do, i.e., nonlinearly. Instead of being stuck at a point in time like all humans, she can now see every event in her life unfold. It's a confusing concept, and the film doesn't do much to clarify it.This all is used to solve the problem with that pesky warmongering General Shang, who gives her his phone number during one of her visions and directs her on what she can say to change his mind (which makes it even more ambiguous how time works in this movie--is having a nonlinear perception of time the same thing as being clairvoyant?). Then the heptapods leave, and Louise finally understands the gift they have given to her. Is it a gift? A thoughtful audience will have more questions than answers. Louise continues on with her life, marrying Ian and giving birth to their daughter, because "it's the journey, not the destination" (as the cliche goes). She knows Ian will leave her and her daughter, and then the daughter will die from cancer at a young age. Is it really ethical to give birth to someone who will suffer and die at a young age? As deep as it wants to be, the movie doesn't trouble itself with such questions. It's also not clear if Louise has any free will to stop it--after all, the events she sees are already happening (the nonlinear view of time negates the idea of a separate past, present, and future). Does Louise have any free will at all?Arrival is a well-made film from a technical standpoint. The cinematography and soundtrack are excellent. The plot has a lot of potential, and there are some interesting moments therein. However, in the end it doesn't add up to the sum of its parts. Its rather slow, light on detail, and the ending manages to be both predictable and confusing. The ending tries to spin Louise's "gift" as a positive, but it's hard to buy it.