Having been produced with relatively little fanfare for a major science fiction movie, the full trailer for Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival was an unexpected gift which bodes well for the film. A first contact story starring Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s Amy Adams as Doctor Louise Banks, a linguist who must understand the visiting presences, she is aided by Captain America: Civil War’s Jeremy Renner as mathematician Ian Donnelly and Rogue One’s Forest Whitaker representing the US military.
Currently engaged in production on the as-yet untitled Blade Runner sequel starring Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, it’s only in the past few years that Villeneuve has become an international presence since switching to primarily English language for the thrillers Prisoners starring Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal and Sicario starring Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin, but prior to those he directed a further four features whose principal language was French.
Based on Ted Chiang’s Hugo and Sturgeon award winning novella Story of Your Life from a script by Eric Heisserer, responsible for The Thing and the forthcoming Lights Out, the initial reaction from the team to the trailer is optimistic.
Dario Persechino – This looks very good but as usual I would have preferred a shorter trailer that told us less.
I am hoping that “Amy Adams decoding their language against the clock” is only a fragment of the story and there will be a lot more they aim to tell. Renner and Adams are both strong actors and give the film good solid potential.
I love science fiction that involves big mystery objects showing up and this instantly makes me think of Rendezvous with Rama and Childhoods End, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what they’ll do with it.
Michael Flett – We’ve been very lucky in that this is the fourth year in a row we’ll have had an “intelligent” science fiction film released a month or so before Christmas – Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian (as disappointing as it was) and now Arrival. I’m so happy to get a major science fiction film which looks to be driven by ideas rather than explosions. Long may it continue!
Like Gravity, it has a female lead, unusual for a major science fiction film, and her character is described as being “the best in her field.” You go, sister! Brownie points are accruing.
There are certainly aspects which superficially remind of Independence Day or V before it, and of course Childhood’s End (as originally envisaged by Clarke – let’s not talk about the television adaptation which deteriorated the further it went from the novel, okay?) but there appears to be no immediate threat to humanity which is a relief. It is an attempt at contact, at communication. If this goes bad it will be because of our failures, not malicious intent.
It seems to be focusing very much on the communication aspect of the story, the language barrier, which is something usually brushed aside in mainstream science fiction cinema. Star Trek has the universal translator, Star Wars has C-3PO, Ellie Arroway has mathematics then an image of her father stimulated in her brain.
In fact the closest I can think of is good old E.T. who learned English from a Speak & Spell.
Also, unlike the endless prosthetic foreheads of Star Trek, these aliens actually look alien, which can only be a good thing.
I’ve still not seen Sicario, although I wanted to, but I wasn’t a great fan of Prisoners which I felt had some very clumsy moments in it which telegraphed events which hadn’t happened yet.
It’s a consequence of analysing films – you see a unnecessary closeup of a pendant you go “oh, that’ll be important later,” like the first time I watched Saw I knew immediately who the killer was as it was a film without peripheral characters – if someone got a closeup, despite not having a name or any dialogue, they were significant.
It’s also interesting that it’s Villeneuve’s first entry into science fiction, or the fantastical of any kind, but he’s currently working on Blade Runner so I think our anticipation of that will be highly coloured by this.
Visually, it looks beautiful, those aerial shots of the fog rolling down hills as the object just floats there, but rather than being a succession of images and ideas meant to convey an impression of the film it’s very much a synopsis of it, beginning to end, which gives way too much away.
I’ve not read Ted Chiang’s short story but in researching this I glanced at the wiki page and there are ideas in there beyond what mainstream Hollywood touches on in a popcorn tentpole, so fingers crossed that has been preserved. That it’s from an author whose name isn’t widely known outside the field is also unusual, but Heisserer has can what can only be described as a mixed resume.
I’ve not seen either the remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street nor Final Destination 5 nor have I any intention of ever doing so, but the remake of The Thing was pointless – and yes, despite being called a “prequel,” if you tell the same story and just change the names of the characters it is a remake – though Lights Out was better than expected. It’s a huge change of direction for him, so hopefully he’ll step up and show that given the right inspiration he can deliver.
Leslie Anderson – As usual, way too much given away in the trailer.
Adam Dworak – Big alien spaceships are positioning themselves over the major cities of Earth, the clock is ticking and conflict seems to be unavoidable…
I saw this movie twenty years ago and I loved it then, and I love it again now. Arrival is nothing more than Independence Day and Contact having a baby what isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Everything depends one whether the producers will find a proper balance between action and an interesting story.
Amy Adams will be good but Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitacker are just awful so I hope they won’t get as much screen time.