Film Review: Science of the Human Condition Makes an ‘Arrival’

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CHICAGO – The film genre of aliens from other planets is as old as the movies. But it hasn’t been told as boldly and humanely as the new film “Arrival.” Its theme is communication, and how this interaction relates to the concept of the life cycle. Yes, it’s lofty, but it is also edge-of-the-seat engaging.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

The film celebrates science, and the subtlety of the human mind, but it is also empathetic and relatable. Our thoughts and our memories are all based on the language that we learn, or what we accept from the language of others. The human beings are trying to find out why a series of a dozen alien crafts have come to earth, but in that that panic they may be missing the point. Sometimes different questions have to be asked, and different roads need to be taken. That is part of thought process, and our eventual memories that result from the process. The film takes this all on in an emotional and moral way, and is a great tonic for a difficult week in history.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is the world’s top linguist (an interpreter of languages and the symbols of communication). When a dozen “ships” from outer space invade different locations around the world, Dr. Banks is recruited by army specialist Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to find out why they came here. She is joined at one landing space in Montana by Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a physicist and mathematician.

The creatures in the ship are fascinated by Dr. Brooks approach, and soon a quasi-language is developed. The other eleven locations around the world at first share this intelligence, but a panic develops due to different interpretations, and the U.S. has implanted CIA Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg) to monitor the situation. Panic evolves to attack mode when the China location, led by General Shang (Tzi Ma), chooses to go offline, and a war upon the aliens seems imminent.


”Arrival” opens everywhere November 11th. Featuring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Michael Stuhlberg, Forest Whitaker and Tzi Ma. Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, from the novel by Tim Chiang. Directed by Denis Villeneuve. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Arrival”

Arrive1
Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) Ponders a Destiny in ‘Arrival’
Photo credit: Paramount Studios

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Arrival”

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