Tuesday 15 November 2016

Film: 'Arrival'

Mine won't be a popular view of this largely praised science fiction film, but I really did find it to be bordering on the ponderous. It took too long to say what it wanted, and when it did it was too little, albeit that the 'little' was merely the future of mankind, wrapped up in a predictable cosy glow of hope and amity. Goodness me! How original!

Amy Adams. a linguistics expert is called in by a Colonel (Forest Whitaker) of the American military,  to help interpret sounds emanating from within one of twelve enormous pod-like space capsules hovering over widely dispersed locations around the globe. She, along with another expert, Jeremy Renner, and a small group of military enter the pod and start making contact with the alien 'crew' from behind a translucent screen on which the latter draw puzzling circle-shaped symbols.
Much time is spent interpreting these symbols, interspersed with many flashes (far too many) of Adams playing or talking to her little daughter. If these 'punctuations' were supposed to speed up the slow action then they spectacularly failed as to me they seemed mere padding - and dull padding at that. And the film is all capped with a needlessly sentimental final few minutes.
The body of the film is played against a backdrop of nervous foreign governments threatening to attack and destroy these pods, the Chinese being to the fore in their influence with other countries.

The pods and the aliens themselves are depicted impressively and interestingly I thought, eschewing previous ideas of what aliens might look like. Likewise the sounds they made.

Two of director Denis Villeneuve's more recent films, 'Sicario' and 'Prisoners', were well worth viewing. I don't consider 'Arrival' to be in the same class. 

Once again I'm going to be in a minority in my view, but I did find this film to be far too laboured to be of especial positive significance...................5.5.


  1. Damm...the prof is away and i was going to see this tomorrow!
    Look on my blog raymondo and enjoy!

    1. I'd hate to have put you off, J.G. You could well fall in with most critics who see this as a fine cinematic experience - and if you do it won't affect my stratospheric opinion of you in the slightest. So I hope that you still do manage to see it.

      And I've just had a look at your blog - and 'enjoyed' (as per instruction).

  2. You're not far off. As I said, the editing might be the most interesting thing, but only in context of the story that is, not what you think it is. Two B-list stars (C?) can only do so much.

    1. Relating to your final sentence, Blobby, I didn't say so above but I did think that both Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner gave curiously underpowered performances, the former displaying inadequate emotion despite the prospect of her turning out to be humanity's saviour - such an unsatisfactory act after seeing her in yesterday's 'Nocturnal Animals' where her unspoken enigmatic attitude was far better suited.

      I'm not sure too about praising the editing, if that includes the inter-cutting of Adams' talking to her infuriatingly prescient daughter, which only left me to reflect "Aw, come off it!"

    2. Ray,
      Pat and I saw this film last week when he was visiting Philadelphia. Both of us thought it was quite overrated and actually boring so you're not alone in your opinion.

    3. Unusual to hear of Pat not liking a film, Ron, so that, along with your own underwhelming reaction. gives me hope that my own verdict isn't too unfair.