Arrival.

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.

SPOILER ALERT!
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.)

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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?

GordonW

 

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. A fairly ordinary watch.

BEWARE: THIS POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS ABOUT THE SUPERHERO MOVIE MENTIONED ABOVE. ( Most probably)…

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice was one of those films which you go in with somewhat great expectations, and come out in exactly the same mood. Once the movie ends, you still think there is more to be said… That this is not the end..
You keep expectantly waiting for the MARVELesque ‘after/during credit’ scenes of vague future storylines. But after the theatre has emptied, and clean up staff are standing around doing nothing, waiting for you to leave, you hope that Zack Snyder might have put in some extra scenes just so that you do not look like an idiot. And I ended up the above mentioned.

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….
So if you have read the first sentence and have not watched the movie yet, you should have stopped reading this a long long time ago..
Now …back on topic.
So as I said Batman vs Superman does indeed have no surprises of extraordinary proportions. Except maybe just before the interval. I have to say, that was probably the best scene in the whole movie.
I know I should not say this, but at this point people must be thinking that anyone can play Superman as Mr. Cavill looked as if he had no enthusiasm to play the part. Of course, he looked the part but his mannerisms, his actions were completely ordinary. There was nothing of significant importance.
Ben Affleck did not have anything else to do other than look serious and say his dialogues on time. Both of which he did alright.
For me , the best actor on the stage was ….by far.. Jesse..
Mr. Eisenberg delivered a powerful yet disconnected performance which was needed for the importance of his character to be felt.
Lex Luthor II was young, cool, hipping and hopping circles around Superman and the government.
Another scene that impressed me was the painting.
“That picture should be upside down. Shouldn’t it Mayor? Because as we know so well, Devils don’t come from below but from above.”
I do concede that these may not have been the exact words , but this was the basic gist of that particular dialogue.

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I mean…look at him!!! How can you not admire this guy? Again… I’m getting off topic.
Even though Lex Mark 2 was the ever occurring cool yet evil son of the evil mastermind father, he brought it out beautifully. He wasn’t the rich spoilt kid. He was the deprived ‘ not loved by the father’ son, or at least that’s what I think he was trying to convey.
And then his hatred for Superman. Obviously he is not exactly going to be Superman’s biggest fan. (  I don’t see why not..? Apparently Superman killed his father.)
But enough about him. I cannot convince you to like him.. Or maybe I can.. But the only way you, The Reader can truly admire his ( Jessie’s) acting is if you watch this movie. Me saying this is probably pointless now that there is a snapshot of the movie itself… But never mind. True mistake… 🙂 🙂
Oh, just a small side note -. Superman dies. And I mean really dead. Poof. Gone. I know… Its bearly writable. And to the watcher it would seem that they have tried to make it that way.
When Superman dies, there are no tragic violins or cellos playing at their saddest, no slow motion, nothing. But they did put in some music after the fact. But it never seemed GRAVE. It never seemed that the world might just end without him. It did not seem hopeless without him.
And the fact that he got bombed twice.. Once in the Capitol and once in space..( with a nuclear deterrent) did not help the cause.

There were many things that did not help. Not only towards the importance of Superman but towards the uplifting of the show.
The action sequences were never engaging.
Its a long, lengthy arm’s length away from us. That always is not a good thing. The first half itself you begin to wonder when is the interval. If it were any other franchise or a non Superhero film, one would really struggle to even think about sitting through the next half. But this is Superman and Batman.
The last gasp effort of the movie is just enough to wake us from our metaphorical slumber and make us want more. If that had been the case for the whole movie it would have been the best movie of the year or even the decade. I mean, come on! The prospects were and still are hugely enormous!
And it seems the theme for the whole year. The need for regulating the activities and work of superheroes. Civil War too has the same basic principle.
Another small yet significant part in the movie was played by Wonder Woman. She seemed irritatingly uninvolved in the whole lot. Only when the movies start to close up on its conclusion does she come into the fray. There are numerous other times she could have done to prevent all this.  And while none of us think of this during the main part of the movie, we start to wonder about where Wonder Woman could have helped. And that again shows the show’s failure to connect with the viewers .
You start to fidget in your chair. The 3D glasses become infinitely more troublesome and heavy. You become Clark Kent and start fidgeting with your glasses.
An unnoticed yet wonderful role was that of the helper Alfred. Jeremy Irons continued his charm over the film world or at least over me with his grave voice and his continuous criticism of Batman’s/ Bruce Wayne’s loneliness and lack of heir. It would have been lovely to have more screen time given to him rather than to the mercenary who kidnapped  Superman’s mom and who shot and killed the ….who were they again?  The Somalians? The Nigerians?? Some where close to those places. His role which gave much promise from the start , amounted to the grand total of ZERO.
When the movie first came out, the buzz was not just big, it was HUUUGE! ( To quote D. Trump). But then slowly it started to die down. What began as a forest fire ended up a tiny flame or a glowing wick at the top of a candle.
This was further proven when I went to watch he movie during the second week and the theatre was empty. Not completely, but there were still the few believers, who truly believed that their favorite superheroes would not stoop to such lows. The immediate reaction after the movie s that it wasn’t so bad.
But then you get up the next morning and recap, and then you realise the utter waste of $250 million.
I will no longer bore you with complaints, but there is nothing much else to say. There were no exceptional dialogues, no shocking revelations and no ‘pipebombs’.
End Verdict
Batman V Superman does not knock down expectations but Sweet Chin Musics them to a far far away land where there is no happiness and satisfaction.  But you have to say, amongst all the bombing and blasting and laser eyes and shockwaves, the basic message is at least conveyed more or less clearly.
” Superheroes are not above the law.”
Or much better understanding of the message would be,
“SUPERMAN is not above the law.”
                   

GordonW