Arrival | Review

As soon as I saw this trailer I already loved this movie, as it appears did the rest of the movie loving fraternity. Science fiction movies are too far apart in the box office schedules of the major studios. And intelligent ones are as rare as decent US presidential candidates. ARRIVAL is one of those rare movies of 2016 that has scored a perfect five pops from me, it is a marvel of this year’s commercial cinematic slate.

ARRIVAL releases this Thursday 10th in Australia from Roadshow Films Australia, it is rated M and runs for 116mins.


Arrival movie image




ARRIVAL’s basic plot has been done to death. It’s all in the title, aliens ARRIVE on Earth’s doorstep. Located in strategic spaces around the globe they just arrive and plonk down – nothing else is known. And from here it greatly varies from most Hollywood alien movies. No comedians, viruses, uber weapons, or Tom Cruise, is needed. Instead it veers closer to a hybrid in similarity to a combination of CONTACT and INTERSTELLAR but the most important thing…. For an alien movie, it feels incredibly realistic, it is believable.

I aliens arrived on our world and they were not humanoid, they were completely alien what would be the most important thing for both parties to establish? Communication. They aren’t going to have the benefit of a Star Trek universal translator that allows them and their lips to move and speak as if they all spoke English. Could their mere voice literally make your ear drums explode? How could they even breathe in our atmosphere? What would the realities be of how world governments deal with the friend or foe? Could the world come together or more expectantly be consumed by fear and therefor easier to destroy than discover?

I fear for any alien that comes to Earth.


Arrival Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) image



Denis Villeneuve has well and truly arrived as a near-worshipped auteur in the industry. I can’t call his films blockbusters, they are more art-house Villeneuves with a decent budget. His storylines appear mainstream but the souls of his films lie in his ability to explore the human psyche to the point of scary. INCENDIES, PRISONERS, ENEMY, SICARIO, ARRIVAL and next BLADE RUNNER 2049. I am ashamed to say I have not seen two of these movies but the ones I have seen have made my Top 20 lists in each year they were released. Villeneuve again delves into the mind in ARRIVAL but in such a mind blowing clever way, the film is so effecting it will leave you tense on the edge of your seat in a build up to a perfect climax that will leave you satisfyingly spent.


The cast of ARRIVAL are so good I nearly vibrate with glee thinking back on their performances. The talent of the three leads is the pulse of this movie, three leads that underplay their characters to reality. Their is no pretension, no over acting, no showboating, I could not see actors, I saw characters in every scene. Forest Whitaker as Colonel Weber is a by the book and black and white in how he sees things. He tells it how it is and so represents the military and governments. Jeremy Renner is Ian Donnelly, a scientist that crunches the numbers and represents facts and what humanity currently knows. Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks is the paramount intelligence on languages and communication. She is the voice and heart of humanity.

All three of these performances were impressive but Adams just shines in this, now career defining performance. There is an Oscar nomination coming her way soon. 


Arrival Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) communicate with aliens image



I can’t say too much about anything in regards to how the story evolves or the aliens themselves because you need to see and experience it for yourself. But what I will say is the science fiction is sound. ARRIVAL could be considered this year’s INTERSTELLAR but it will not confuse the audience like the latter. Villeneuve and the writing team took extensive efforts to ensure the movie’s scientific ideology was accurate. Renowned scientist and tech innovator Stephen Wolfram and his son Christopher Wolfram were consulted to ensure all terminology, graphics and depictions were sound.

When you do see the aliens – you will be impressed.

Do not get your hopes up for heavy action. ARRIVAL is an intelligent science fiction and while the marketing is selling it for everyone, do not be fooled. It goes deep, way deep, and scenes that appear inconsequential will come back and bite you in the ass. The middle dips to run a little slow paced but even that has purpose, it is that foreplay before the final act, embrace it. This is an intelligent movie filled with so much subtle nuance that by the end you will be flawed in its brilliance. As much as Christopher Nolan is my Top 3 director, Villeneuve manages to do what Nolan could not and his rankings have skyrocketed.


Arrival Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) image



The most impressive accomplishment of ARRIVAL is that it presents a scientific theorem never before seen on film. It questions what we know and it highlights that there is many more possibilities in the universe besides current knowledge.

ARRIVAL is a master class on making a work of cinematic science fiction brilliance without bombastic commercialism. It will make my Top 10 of 2016 and Amy Adams will most likely hold a gold statue for her performance. Bravo Villeneuve! Get thee to a cinema from Thursday – this needs to be seen.


5 Pops




Jason King owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan.

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.