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Masterful science fiction

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 4 April 2017 09:25

"Despite knowing the journey... and where it leads... I embrace it... and I welcome every moment of it."


Science fiction movies about extraterrestrials have existed for decades, to the point that there's ostensibly very little in the way of originality to be mined from the well-worn "alien invasion" subgenre. Enter 2016's Arrival, a rare type of sci-fi drama which dares to realistically explore what might occur if otherworldly beings visited Earth, without resorting to battles or large-scale destruction. More than just another action blockbuster involving aliens, Arrival is endowed with a maturity in both its storytelling and cinematic technique that's rarely glimpsed, bolstered by an Oscar-nominated screenplay by Eric Heisserer (based on Ted Chiang's short story "Story of Your Life") and shrewd direction by the ever-talented Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario). Arrival is breathtaking from start to finish, necessitating deep thought and introspection to properly digest everything that's going on below the surface, making this a must-see for those who appreciate cerebral sci-fi. Much like 2015's equally magnificent Ex Machina, this is the type of movie which both benefits from, and stands up to repeat viewings.




Twelve mysterious alien vessels arrive on Earth, positioning themselves in countries around the planet, which naturally incites a global panic. With their intentions unclear, U.S. Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits linguistics expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams), giving her the daunting task of understanding and communicating with the alien beings. Joined by theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise is taken to a ship hovering just above rural Montana where she is able to communicate directly with the giant squid-like "Heptapods" every 18 hours, when the vessel opens for a brief period. Dubbing the two aliens Abbott and Costello, Louise and Ian set about deciphering the advanced, circular symbol-based language of the Heptapods, seeking to establish a sufficient communicative basis to find out their purpose on Earth. But the pressure rapidly mounts, with world leaders fearing that the Heptapods aim to wipe out humanity, prepared to unleash military firepower on the visitors before they strike first.


Arrival is the first major motion picture to acknowledge that otherworldly beings may not make full sense to us, or conform to our ideas of scientific logic. It's a refreshing new perspective and a welcome change from the norm, and this sophistication feeds into the screenplay at large. The presence of aliens is almost inconsequential to the narrative - this is ultimately a story about the importance of communication and the nature of language, not to mention it's also about time, memory and tolerance, with thought-provoking philosophical undercurrents that nobody really expected (save, perhaps, for those familiar with the source material). Furthermore, Arrival doesn't lean on high school-grade science, instead providing genuinely interesting insight into complicated scientific and linguistics concepts, and the movie manages to convey this material without talking down to the audience. To be sure, there are more questions than answers, a fact that's basically acknowledged by the protagonists, but such uncertainty would likely plague a real-life alien visitation, and it doesn't ruin the experience to any degree.




Despite running a hair under two hours, Arrival is the very model of efficiency, with nothing in the way of dead weight. Initial encounters may be slow-going, but such sequences are nevertheless subtly enthralling on Villeneuve's watch, and the movie knows when it needs to start picking up the pace. It's superlative work from scribe Heisserer, whose previous efforts are predominantly horrors (including Lights Out, Final Destination 5 and 2011's The Thing), confidently forgoing expectations of spectacle and flippant excitement in favour of depth and thematic resonance. There is a twist of sorts once Arrival approaches its climax, but it's not a cheap gimmick by any means, as it feeds into everything that has taken place so far. It compels us to reassess and recontextualize much of the movie, and the powerful ending represents an emotionally stirring reminder of the sanctity of human life. Miraculously, in spite of its weighty undercurrents, Arrival is not preachy, pretentious or sanctimonious, and it breezes by at such an agreeable pace (thanks to Joe Kelly's judicious editing) that it never feels like a meandering mess.


Villeneuve continues his astounding winning streak here, showing yet again that he's one of the finest filmmakers of this generation. Take, for instance, Louise's first session with Abbott and Costello; the suspense is almost unbearable, with Villeneuve capturing every tense step as the team ascend into the alien vessel, and the first reveal of the Heptapods is incredibly effective. It's all beautifully shot by cinematographer Bradford Young, who uses light, shadows, fog and silhouettes to astounding effect, creating an aura of otherworldliness. The visual effects are just as impressive, though Villeneuve uses practical effects and sets as much as possible, creating a tangible aesthetic which greatly enhances the cinematic illusion. Furthermore, the visuals feel utterly inseparable from Jóhann Jóhannsson's hypnotic score, which is brilliantly ethereal and yet subdued, further cementing the sense of awe and otherworldliness throughout, whilst also accentuating the story's emotional components. Performances across the board are excellent, led by Adams who carves out a relatable, charming protagonist, while Renner gets the rare chance to show his acting chops outside of a blockbuster setting.




Arrival is a superbly-woven piece of cinematic craftsmanship, and its box office success shows that not every movie needs to be dumbed-down for mass mainstream appeal. There is nothing inherently wrong with action-packed sci-fi productions - hell, Neill Blomkamp's District 9 managed to be both intelligent and exhilarating, while Independence Day is the definition of Big Dumb Fun™ - but Arrival is more gratifying in its approach, though it's definitely for a specific type of niche film-going audience and it's not for everybody. With this in mind, it's downright miraculous that a mainstream sci-fi drama as utterly bold as this was permitted a $47 million budget in a cinematic climate where summer blockbusters flourish. Haunting and difficult to forget, Arrival will be rightfully remembered in the grand pantheon of great science fiction movies, standing proudly alongside the likes of Blade Runner, Alien, and The Terminator


10/10



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Arrival review

Posted : 4 months, 3 weeks ago on 3 April 2017 02:46

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"Arrival" Review

Posted : 5 months, 4 weeks ago on 27 February 2017 10:31

"Arrival" o "La Llegada" es una película sobre alienigenas que no destaca realmente en algo a diferencia de muchas otras películas de su mismo estilo. Entonce, ¿Porque es tan aclamada? Simple, por su mensaje, el mensaje de "La comunicación es mas importante que el conflicto", ya saben, un mensaje que se enseña desde niños pero aquí se trata de implementar de una manera mas madura, junto a una narrativa densa en contraste a las películas de alienigenas y conflictos armados que uno suele acostumbrar. La película cuenta también con excelentes efectos especiales, los cuales si bien no son muy cuantiosos, realmente se sienten como parte de la atmósfera presentada. Otro punto a su favor es el WorldBuilding, es decir, como a medida que avanza la película vamos conociendo mas sobre la forma extraña de comunicarse de los aliens, ademas de lo peculiar que es este lenguaje, así como el original diseño de los aliens que se complemente con su forma de comunicación. Fuera de eso, no me quedan muchas cosas buenas que decir mas allá de que las actuaciones fueron buenas, así como la fotografía, la dirección de sonido y la primera mitad, por mas densa y aburrida que pueda resultar, no esta mal construyendo los eventos que suceden lentamente.
Ahora si, mis problemas con la película son los siguientes:
1- Los personajes no son interesantes, la protagonista es una simple traductora de gran inteligencia y que prefiere la comunicación en lugar del conflicto, el deuteragonista es un simple científico que efectúa algunos chistes recurrentes, pero su importancia es mínima. En cuanto al chino y a los militares, no hay mucho que decir, como personajes cumplen su función pero no son memorables en ningún aspecto. Esto hace la película aun mas densa de lo que ya es, pues no termina de interesar demasiado.
2- La conclusión. Y debo decir que esto arruina la película en general. En el segundo acto se revela algo relacionado a los aliens y la protagonista que, como es de esperarse, solo sirve de excusa para terminar la película. Si bien este elemento es algo anticipado por las escenas de la hija (Las cuales son bastante des inspiradas y que presentan un comienzo no muy destacable), eso no quita que la forma de solucionar el problema sea increíblemente estúpida, básicamente se detiene un conflicto armado a nivel internacional porque un chino se puso sensible por teléfono. Es RIDÍCULO.

En conclusión, Arrival hace lo que puede como película de aliens para ser innovadora, y si bien lo consigue, sus personajes terminan siendo muy simples, su final muy estúpido, su ritmo exageradamente lento en ocasiones y las escenas de la hija solo existen como anticipación y no dan pena en lo absoluto. Aun así, aprecio el esfuerzo de la película y no la considero mala, pero personalmente creo que pudieron haber hecho algo mucho mejor.



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Arrival

Posted : 6 months ago on 22 February 2017 09:03

Some of the best films in more typically obtuse and loud genres are the ones that strive for something a little bit deeper. Look no further than the recent spate of films like Interstellar or Gravity, messy or imperfect as they may be, that have been immensely satisfying and immersive as personal stories wrapped up in science-fiction dressing. Joining them, and my personal favorite of the three, is Arrival, a fantastic story about alien life interacting with humanity that really boils down to a mother retelling her life story to her dying daughter.

 

The film’s story expanse is global, but its soul and precision-like focus is on a deeply felt personal one. Amy Adams, one of our greatest working and most versatile actresses currently working, leads Arrival with an empathetic, confident performance that gives the film its grace and brains. She digs deep into Louise, a linguistics professor that gets called into service by the US government when 12 UFOs land on Earth. She’s not the first person brought in to try and establish communication, but she’s able to develop a strange symbiosis with them and eventually cracks their language’s complicated code.

 

Much of the success and lingering power of Arrival rests on Adams’ performance, particularly the numerous close-ups of her face. Director Denis Villeneuve diverts attention away from the CGI aliens, they look like gigantic cephalopods made of fine leather, and onto the more grounded, human work of his actress. The amount of trust he places in Adams’ prowess reminds me of the golden age film-makers who simply lit an actress of great power and let her rip. As the multiple timelines converge and shift around there is Adams’ face holding the center.

 

Even better is how the film places an equally strong emphasis less on reactionary politicking and explosions and far more on the power of science and building bridges between cultures. Much like Spotlight could make investigative journalism feel like high-tension superspy thrills, Arrival can transform linguistics into the heady stuff of action-film spectacle. Who knew trying to decipher strange inky circular blobs could be so enthralling?

 

If there’s any true negative to level against Arrival it’s a pervading sense that the film tends towards the antiseptic, even at points when the emotions are supposed to pull the rug out from under us. I find this forgivable, and even that it made a certain bit of logical sense once we figure out what these strange flash-forwards and diversions to an idyllic home life are in service towards. I’d happily sacrifice Meryl Streep’s record-breaking nomination or Emma Stone’s serviceable (and soon-to-be anointed) work in favor of nominating Amy Adams’ work here. I’d happily split up the tech categories in this film’s favor. I’d happily throw more love at Arrival then it’ll probably walk away with come Oscar night. I just really loved this film.



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Arrival review

Posted : 6 months ago on 21 February 2017 05:06

Notes:
*I've heard this is really good, but it's a slow burner.
*So I have been sort of skeptical to check it out, but I decided to go ahead and check it out.
*I mean the cast is pretty good.
*Denis Villeneuve also directed Prisoners and Sicario which were both pretty darn good.
*I have seen all of Eric Heisserer's movies so far with the Nightmare on Elm Street remake being the only disappointment.
*Anyways let's see if this is as good as I hear or if it's just not my taste.

Pros:
*The way they start the story really pulls you in.
*It's quite visually striking while at the same time being very simplistic.
*The sound mixing is pretty intriguing.
*I loved the idea of this having a lot to do with languages.
*The way the movie plays out is different and unique.

Cons:
*I sort of spoiled the idea of part of the twist when I assumed that Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams characters were already married.

Verdict:
It reminded me a little bit of Interstellar meets Instructions Not Included.The whole thing was stunning to look at. It's simplistic and yet keeps you invested in the story. For those looking for an action movie this will not be your cup of tea. It really is worth checking out though for it's story alone. I was skeptical, but I am happy I gave this a try.


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Arrival review

Posted : 6 months ago on 19 February 2017 07:11

Arrival, es hermosa, puedo decir sin tener miedo, que es una de las mejores peliculas del 2016, y una gran ejemplo de como hacer una historia compleja, pero digerible para los que no entiendan o se les hace difícil comprender la ciencia ficción en el cine. No les quiero decir nada sobre lo que va este film, ya que lo tienen que vivir, tal como lo fue con Gravity o Odisea espacial 2001.

Ah si, y aparece mi país natal...que luego dicen que terminan en disturbios xD


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A good movie

Posted : 9 months ago on 20 November 2016 06:06

Right now, according to IMDb, this is the best movie released in 2016 (I'm not sure if it will last but we'll see soon enough) so you can't argue that I did try not to show the best movie possible to my filmclub. It's just a shame that it didn't turn out to be really amazing. I mean, I thought it was visually really neat, Amy Adams gave a solid performance and I really loved the fact that they put the focus on language and on the difficulty and importance to be able to communicate with a possible Alien life form. As a result, it was probably one of the  most minimalistic Science-Fiction features I have seen but it wasn't a bad thing, in the contrary. Unfortunately, I'm familiar with this old gimmick of creating an ominous mood and keeping the audience for as long as possible in the dark but, at some point, they have to deliver an explanation and such movies very rarely manage to end up in a satisfactory manner. In this case, it was not bad but I thought that, when this first encounter should have been a worldwide historical event, its impact was reduced to one single human being. What was actually the impact on the rest of the world? In what way was this event something really life changing? Anyway, even though it didn't completely blow me away, it was still a decent SF feature and I think it is definitely worth a look, especially if you like the genre.


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