There are some movies that give gunshots and bomb blasts, utmost priority, and there are others which do not. This movie just happens to be the latter.Which is quite strange, when one looks at the premise of said movie. Obviously, it(the premise) would include words like, ‘Unknown Flying Object’ or ‘Extra Terrestrials’. And whenever words of these ‘genres’ comes up, tanks and warships firing missiles into oblivion is a certainty, or at least , a requirement.
But Arrival pulls it off without having any explosions and attacks. Well, except for one instance. Even the aliens seem pretty friendly. Saying that this a movie of surprises, would be an understatement. But, it delivers them so silently and to your subconscious, that you do not bask in its glory, but silently admire it.
The following content will / may contain precious information about said episode which should not be learnt by reading a review. ( So to be clear, should be learnt by watching the movie.)
This SPOILER ALERT was brought to you by Gordon Watson.
Another surprise, for me at least, was that Jeremy had next no role, until the end. Sure, he partially understands the language of the beings, but other than that, he has no role. All the focus, is on Louise Banks-Amy’s character, how she suffered a tragic and an incomprehensible loss, and faced it with great solidarity and bravery to become a university teacher, who teaches the languages. Or thats what THEY want you to think. And then come along the aliens. And as she is the foremost language.. translator?? I’m searching for a better word. Linguist perhaps? Well, whatever it may be, she is the best ‘America’ has got. And she along with Ian Donnelly, a physics professor,… I got it! Linguistic professor! So,.. with Ian, she has to translate their language and ask the big question, that is, what is their purpose of coming to Earth.. At first its only vocal,with strange groans and loud clickings, but then its turns optical, with octopus/squid ink like circular writing. And all of the writing on the part, happens on the barrier. ( The barrier is a translucent wall that the two species use to communicate.Without it, Louise would still be teaching Portuguese to an auditorium of students with sleek,silver, Apple laptops.)
And this is the first half of the story.
If one were to think of the basic idea behind this movie, then it would be that ‘Learning a new language can essentially rewire one’s brain.’ Apparently, its the theory that the language of a person decides how that thinks or processes information. Well, perhaps not apparently. So as she learns the language of the aliens, she starts to think differently. Supposedly, writing is timeless. Its speech that requires time. So, it is finally decided, that their (the aliens’) writing and thought process is essentially timeless. They can know the future and the past at the same time. And the present, obviously. So as she learns the language, she begins to know the future. And she uses this ability to ‘remember’ the future, where she has saved the Earth or the aliens from the Chinese, and to convince the Communist countries of the world not to attack the Shell.(That is what the spaceship is called.)
And there’s the second half of the story.
Unlike other alien movies, in this one, Americans acted pretty smartly and wisely, except for one group of incredibly naive soldiers, who put a bomb near the barrier.
The intentions of Abbot and Costello, the two aliens (and no,they are not their real names) is not quite clear, at least for me. Apparently, they need the help of humans in 300 years…..so they have come now to form a union, so that their relationship may be symbiotic? That is what I inferred from the movie. Maybe THEY meant for us to draw our own conclusions, but I highly doubt that THEY would give us such freedom.
But , all the effort, struggle and the overall unworldly-ness is delivered, with wonderful suspense and timelessness, with a touch of doom and despair.
No planetary alien story is complete without classic territorial agendas, and said territories reluctant to play a non zero sum game. And this is escalated even further, when the big question is popped, and the answer is translated to be ‘offer weapon’.Countries start readying their armies, navies and the air force for battle. Essentially, this is what provokes those soldiers to bomb the vessel. But then Louise and Ian try to convince their superiors that, it might also mean that they are asking the humans to offer a tool. (They had to do a whole lot of convincing.)
I guess one cannot truly say that this actor acted very well, but they did their job. No one looked like they were uninterested. Forest Whitaker was as good as ever. The aliens were spectacularly scary. Heptopods. Thats what the whole of the alien species were called. Especially when Amy day dreams one, in her room. Jeremy as I said didn’t have much of a role, but still had the same Hawk-eye charisma. Nevertheless, it was truly an enthralling movie, with enthralling performances from everyone, especially from Ms.Adams.
There is a lot more that happens than what has been written here. The ending is especially good, considering the whole movie is just a tiny bit mono-tonal. A touching moment with a cruel general, a heart in the mouth moment on one side of call, to China and a final realization that touches your heart ever so slightly, and slightly raises the hairs on the back of your neck.
I would easily give this a 10, but since I didn’t exactly understand the purpose of the aliens coming to our planet, a 9 perhaps?