Movie review of "Arrival"

I recommend the movie “Arrival” because it presents a new version of aliens and a different possible reason for their arrival and identity.  It also explores ideas about physics and science, and the alien’s interpretation of time.

The movie’s tone starts immediately with a view Louise Bank’s (Amy Adams) isolated home, as she goes to work to teach a linguist class. When one of her students, who is immersed in her laptop (instead of the lecture), tells Banks to turn on the overhead news channel, the tension start immediately.  The news reporter announces that there are 12 oval alien crafts, each 1,500 feet tall, positioned around the world, with no known explanation as to why they are here…

When Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) asks Bank to help translate the alien sounds and language, she is assisted by physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), who becomes a part of her future as it relates to her past.

“Arrival” is suspenseful, and thoughtful throughout.  It has very beautiful and somber music depicting the aliens (called heptapods by the scientists), as they emerge out of the mists, into view for the first time.   They are not human in shape, but more like huge life forms related to an octopus. After initially viewing them, they appear very primeval, and take on a serene eternal quality. The heptapod’s non-linear writing is also very beautiful with its circular and mysterious form. And the discussion about how language is understood was fascinating.

Through contact with the aliens, Banks begins to learn that the alien’s interpretation of time is not linear, like our own, but circular. And her dreams about her dead daughter take on a deeper meaning.  This is a love story as well as a movie about aliens.  It also has a scientific aspect (ie: quantum physics). 

When the heptapods save Banks and Donnelly (in a scene I will not describe, for those who have not seen the movie), the scientists don’t seem to realize what the heptapods did.  But the audience knows what the heptapods did. The alien’s act of trying to warn them and save them revealed benevolent intent.

After Banks learns the heptapods true reason for being here, she is actually helped by them through her visions to accomplish this, and it becomes very emotional and moving.

Although world leaders fear the aliens and China want to annihilate them, Banks knows differently, and risks her life.

I was so affected by the film that I went to the library and put a reserve on the short story the movie is based on, "The Story of Your Life,” by Ted Chiang. There are 20 people ahead of me on the waiting list, who are also requesting the book.

I told everybody I know to see this movie.  And I hope readers of this paper, who see the movie, are as moved by it as much as I was. 

PS: Bring tissue.

Jeanne Coppola

Jeanne Coppola is a resident of the Collinwood neighborhood, and is interested in art and writing. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cleveland State University. 

Read More on Opinion
Volume 8, Issue 12, Posted 6:48 PM, 12.04.2016