Directed by: Denis Villeneuve
Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg
Runtime: 116 min
Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a world-known translator that helped the military on previous missions. When several alien spaceships arrive on the Earth, she's once again contacted in order to try and communicate with the extraterrestrial beings.
With the help of Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a scientist, they have to figure out what is the alien's purpose on the planet and what do they want.
Brilliant. Is what I have to say after watching this movie twice. Nearly perfect, it has some really minor issues, but it is so freaking brilliant.
Arrival is not a typical alien-invasion movie. If you're going with expectations of watching a human vs alien battle, forget it. This is a beautiful-looking suspenseful drama. Every single shot is filmed with such pitch-perfect pure beauty, Denis Villeneuve has been one of my favorites directors for the past years (Sicario, Prisoners, Enemy ... all movies from previous top10 lists of mine) and the cinematography in this one is just amazing. The first time the audience sees the spaceship up-close is a jaw-dropping long take, showing all of the surrounding space ... Gorgeous.
The soundtrack also kept me so invested in the scenes, I love the tracks of when they're "face-to-face" with the aliens. Amy Adams has definitely an Oscar-worthy performance, she's so subtle and simple, but I believed her so much. It's one of those castings where I can't see anyone else portraying her role, she's magnificent. Jeremy Renner is good, but he's not in the movie that much. He serves more as a device for us to understand better the third act revelation and not much more than that. Opposing to Amy's role, Renner is in this movie just because of his popularity. Even his character says that he's useless at some point in the film...
Now, I knew that there was going to be a twist of some sort in the third act, but it didn't make a difference ... It's really awesome. It makes me rethink the whole film and that's the main reason why I needed to watch this movie a second time before reviewing it. The truth is that it's perfectly directed, there's isn't a single flaw relatively to its story and the final revelation it's so incredible that it is going to make you leave the theater extremely satisfied. I can't tell you much more than this without spoiling something.
I can't really find important issues with this movie. I mean, Jeremy Renner's character is kind of put aside pretty strangely and the whole suspense around the "what is their purpose?" is diluted maybe too fast, but that's not something I felt negatively affected by. The pacing might seem too slow, but if you know Villeneuve's work like I do and if you enjoy filmmaking quality like Arrival has, then everything is going to speed up a little. I actually think that the pacing improved during my second session. It's deliberately slow in order to give you time to think everything as you should, so I find this as a positive instead of a negative.
Arrival is probably on my top5 list of alien-invasion of all-time. It's super intriguing, its story is fascinating, Amy Adams is so captivating with one of her best performances ever, Denis Villeneuve's direction proves to be perfect once again (one of my favorite directors of today, if not the favorite), the soundtrack is rememberable and the movie looks stunningly gorgeous, with beautiful cinematography. A deliberately slow pacing might bring the movie down for some people, but for me, it's right on point. A sci-fi masterpiece.