Arrival Blu-ray Review
While admirable, “Arrival” is not quite out of this world.
The Plot: After 12 alien ships arrive at various places on Earth, a renowned linguist Professor (Louise) and a theoretical physicist (Ian) are summoned by a U.S. Colonel to try to communicate with alien lifeforms inside one of the ships to find out what they want. As mankind struggles to find a way to communicate with them via their symbol oriented language, the world becomes paranoid that their intentions are not peaceful. With possible attacks against the aliens known as Heptapods on the horizon, Louise has to find a way to reach the Heptapods before time runs out.
“Arrival” (which is based on the short story “Story of Your Life”) is not your average Hollywood sci-fi film. While it does bear a resemblance to “Contact,” “The Day The Earth Stood Still,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “The Twilight Zone,” it is more intellectual than action oriented. In some ways, this works in the film’s favor as the deliberately paced somber story is able to more freely explore concepts about peace, communication, cooperation, love, and decisions. On the other hand, this approach also works against the film at times most notably with the ending. I won’t get into spoilers here, but “Arrival” doesn’t quite stick the landing (pun intended). While there is a touching emotional human element at the center, the ending itself also feels like a bit of a cheat given that the film spends so much time building up to the ending. Now, granted, I was not expecting nor looking for explosions or the like here, but I was hoping for more depth in relation to the Heptapods. On top of that, the end feels decidedly rushed and leaves you with some frustrating unanswered questions. Again, I could go into more detail here, but I won’t.
One thing that is not in question, however, is the directing talent of Denis Villeneuve. The up-and-coming director brings a unique and distinct style to the film that only he can do. I can’t imagine anyone else doing this film. It will be very interesting to see what he does with higher profile sci-fi films like “Blade Runner 2049” and “Dune.”
Also worthy of praise here are the the performances by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner. While there are other actors in this film (such as Forest Whitaker), these two dominate the screentime. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Adams is one of the best actors in the biz. Not only does she have such range, but her screen presence is always able to carry a film. Renner has been hit-and-miss throughout his career, but he gives one of his better performances here as Ian.
Presentation: Widescreen 1080p. How does it look? The stylistic cinematography really shines in hi-def.
Audio Track: 7.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The film’s key use of sound certainly puts the track to work.
* Digital copy.
* “Xenolinguistics, Understanding Arrival”- A half-hour featurette about the film’s themes and ideas.
* “Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design”- This 14 minute extra covers the various sounds featured in the film.
* “Eternal Recurrence: The Score”- A bonus feature that revolves around the atmospheric score.
* “Nonlinear Thinking: The Editing Process”- Self-explanatory.
* “Principles Of Time, Memory, And Language”- This heady extra is about time, language, math, science, intelligence and more.
Overall Thoughts: Is “Arrival” a good movie? Sure, but I don’t believe it is quite worthy of the praise that is being heaped upon it.
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