Arrival – Movie Review

When a dozen shell like spacecraft arrive over key locations around the world, linguistics expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams) leads a team of investigators.

 

Arrival is many things. A love story, an alien invasion flick, a study of grief and longing, and a drama about communication all rolled into one. 
What it actually is is revealed in the final minutes and packs one of the biggest emotional punches of the year. Though punch is too strong a word. It’s more of a tap, hitting part of your soul that resonates. 

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are always great and here they offer a solid emotional anchor to a project that could have floated away like the dozen ships at the heart of the movie. 


The scenes of human-alien interaction cleverly take place in an arena that looks like a movie theatre with no seats. We relate to the heroes witnessing what looks like a giant interactive movie. There are echoes of Torchwood’s ETs, only more benign, or are they?

After his powerhouse dramas Prisoners and Sicario, Denis Villeneuve has struck gold again, delivering a compelling tale with an aptly alien score. 

Some movies signpost their messages a while in advance but this takes its time revealing the heart-rending core of its tale. 

I left the theatre with a deep sense of melancholy and empathy. Yes it’s a film that has a start, middle and end, but not how you might think. 


Though marketed as an Independence Day-style thriller, it’s really an art house movie, more reminiscent of Under the Skin and Day the Earth Stood Still than the less commercial, cerebral movie it is. Like all the best films, such as Lost in Translation and Eternal Sunshine, this lingers long after the credits have rolled.

Obviously it’s not perfect. A ticking clock plot twist feels contrived, and those responsible seem brushed under the carpet too easily, but it’s not a deal breaker. When the key to the third act’s denouement comes it feels right given the context. 

There are inevitable comparisons with Contact, Jodie Foster’s 1997 sci-fi epic which involved a female protagonist, aliens, subterfuge and big ideas, but that was let down by a cop out finale which looked like it belonged in a Bounty advert. This avoids such pitfalls.

A repeat viewing is almost essential. 
My passion for Blade Runner 2 has been building for years, and given Villeneuve’s track record so far, I doubt he’s going to drop the ball with that sequel.  

Advertisements

Man of steel-the review

Rebooting one of the best loved film sagas of all time was no easy task, but Zack Snyder has done a good job.
Epic smack downs, cool suits, a fine score and dazzling special effects all ensure you get plenty of value for money.
However, it’s remarkable for a film that cost more than $200 million features dialogue so clunky it sounds like it was written by a first year film student.
Some of General Zod’s lines, especially during the inevitable smack down near the finale, are cringeworthy.
Thankfully, at least Michael Shannon does a great job as the Shakespearean-style bad guy.
Russell Crowe dominates the first 10 to 20 minutes of the movie as the noble Jor El; Inevitably, considering this is a Snyder movie, Kal El’s mother looks like she stepped out of 300.
Henry Cavill is rather good as the eponymous hero, while Amy Adams makes a sexy and likeable love interest.
It’s also good to see Law and Order veteran Christopher Meloni proving he can dominate the attention on the big screen.
Considering this has to compress so much information into a relatively short running time, Snyder and his colleagues have thankfully managed to keep assorted plates spinning.
Mixing flashbacks with present day action, the screenplay deftly juggles assorted plot points, including the destruction of Krypton, Kal’s arrival on Earth, his growth to maturity, and his romance with Lois.
It’s not a perfect film by any means, but at least I cared about the hero and heroine. Which was more than could be said for Superman Returns.
In 3-D and D box, this is a treat for the senses.
Hans Zimmer had an unenviable task of creating the score, considering how influential John Williams’ original theme had been since 1978.
It could have done with more laughs, and a decent script doctor, but on the whole this Man of Steel soars.