This film received a ‘93% Fresh’ rating from Rotten Tomatoes and had a great review in the ‘L. A. Times’ and ‘People.’ It stars Amy Adams (as Dr. Louise Banks) – one of my favorite actresses – so I rushed out to see it on opening night! I wish I had gone to the Woodbridge High School football team’s season finale instead. (We won!)
Adapted from a short story, “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, the movie is about aliens landing on Earth, humanity’s effort to communicate with them, and the irreversible emotional and philosophical effects of such an encounter. It is an interesting and thought-provoking film, but it’s only entertaining in the first and last 15 minutes. The 90 minutes in-between is slower than a DMV line. I’m sure the short story is terrific and I am even planning to read it, but I guess sometimes it’s a mistake to make a full-length film, even out of an excellent short story.
Twelve alien space ships have landed, stationed in various parts of the globe. Most citizens throughout the world are freaked out. “Inquiring minds want to know” what’s the purpose of their mission. Are they coming to occupy the planet, wipe us out, give us advanced technology, or catch a Stones’ concert before they retire?! The U.S. sends Dr. Banks (a linguistics expert) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to the UFO site in Montana to try to make contact. The U.S. is trying to be patient, since the aliens are not doing anything hostile, but China is paranoid and wants to give the aliens a show of force. No countries are sharing any information about what is happening with respect to their efforts to interact with the aliens.
The film primarily involves Banks and Donnelly interacting with the aliens as they try to understand and communicate with each other. Interspersed with this are vignettes from Banks’ life, which turn out to be relevant in the film’s provocative conclusion.
Adams is her usual terrific self, conveying simultaneous terror, wonder, and confusion, but even she can’t save it. For science fiction and Amy Adams fans, it’s an OTBR, but I would pass otherwise.
If you still want to see “Arrival,” be prepared to make an early departure!