It’s really a big surprise to many that the new film, “Arrival” is fast becoming one of the best movies for 2016, and with good reason. When the trailer for “Arrival” was first shown just before the Toronto International Film Festival, everyone – including the cynics and critics – were assuming that this was another of those CGI-heavy sci-fi movies about aliens coming to earth, making contact, and then invading us. The question left hanging based on the trailer was if the aliens were really coming in peace or have already decided to leave humanity in pieces. But like fish caught on a hook, that was just the bait to get people to watch it in theaters, and banking on “word of mouth” that it was a good movie. (Spoilers ahead, but you’d be silly not to keep reading). In truth, the film has a moving story that is more concerned about humanity than from any being that comes and lands on any earthling’s backyard. One thing that kept people at bay is that “Arrival” is directed by Denis Villenueve who directed “Sicario.”
So anyone who’s seen “Sicario” knows just how sick and hanging the ending was, leaving audiences grumbling and angry after leaving the theater or had DVD’s being tossed out the window. But it seems Villenueve has some ‘more than sickly tricks’ up his sleeves after all. “Arrival” stars Amy Adams and is based on a short story by sci-fi author Ted Chiang (another factor given that Chinese authors of sci-fi can’t write a damn about anything, except this one) titled “Story of Your Life, and follows linguist Dr. Louise Banks (Adams) whom the military requests (more of “come with us, you have no choice”) to help communicate with aliens who have just landed on earth. The world almost goes stark raving panic mode when 12 large pod-shaped ships suddenly land in different areas of the world. The one in the U.S. lands in an open field in Montana.
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Dr. Banks and scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner without his bow) become the focus of the US government’s attempts to figure out what the aliens are here for. Banks and Connelly are also in communication with the other countries investigating their specific pods. However, the head of the military arm of the operation, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), is under constant pressure from the White House (whose president looks like a warmongering Hillary Clinton) to produce answers. The stakes get higher when China decides to forego communication and to attack the pod instead (why aren’t we surprised considering how warmongering China can be as well). But the crux of the story isn’t about conflict or peace but with Dr. Bank’s relationship with the aliens that she playfully names Abbot and Costello, the legendary comedy duo. In trying to understand the alien language she discovers that they are already communicating with her through humans in her own dreams and memories. “Arrival” is certain to get some major Oscar nominations, Adams and Renner included. And even if it doesn’t win in the Oscars, it will be considered one of the top sci-fi films of all time. The film hit theaters last November 11.