Arrival (2016) – Ace Mini-Review

Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner
Written by: Eric Heisserer
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
U.S.A., 2016

How good is this movie?

This science fiction story may not have a lot of hard science, but it does feature some hard linguistics – something I wish we saw more often. There are moments that strain plausibility: Col. Weber asks inane questions whose answers should be obvious, while no one raises important issues like what the aliens’ hearing range is or whether and how they see. The film also avoids addressing the paradoxes inherent in a circular view of time. Still, it works well at a psychological level. In a market glutted with alien movies, it successfully captures the awe and terror of first contact with strange beings. And although the ending goes on a bit too long (the emotional punch would have been more effective if it had been delivered more succinctly) it is guaranteed to pull on your heartstrings – particularly if you’re a parent or alloparent.

How ace is this movie?

There are hints of a future romance between Louise and Ian, but they’re understated, and their relationship is only a small, if crucial, part of the story. The movie is clearly much more interested in the mother-child bond between Louise and her deceased daughter, which is conveyed with beauty, poignancy, and skillful economy.

3.5 Stars; 3 Aces

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