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Arrival: Redefining Science Fiction

Gabriel Joseph, Editor-In-Chief

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Astounding. Emotional. Incredible. Fascinating. These simple words can only fractionally convey what Denis Villeneuve’s new film, Arrival, presents. The film is a magnificent masterpiece which keeps its audience guessing, engaged, and engrossed during its entirety. It is a film which has brought back the genre of science-fiction and established itself already as a film to remember for years to come.

Director Denis Villeneuve is no novice to the art of movie making. The French Canadian director established himself as an excellent movie maker through his films, Prisoner (2013) and Sicario (2015); both of which were highly acclaimed movies in their own right. Dark and twisted with a pessimistic view about the state of humanity and culture defines his past two movies. Yet with Arrival, Villeneuve takes a different approach. By using a different plot and premise, this brilliant director is able to portray ethics, philosophy, and morals within the genre of a good science fiction movie, without losing drowning his audience in over complex topics and themes.

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Dr. Louise Banks, played by Amy Adams, is an expert linguist who lives a fairly sad and quiet life; teaching as a language professor at her local college and living alone in her little lakeside house. Yet all of this is interrupted as twelve colossal spacecraft silently land in different parts of the world. The whole world mobilizes, seeing these as a potential threat. Quickly enough, the United States Army contacts Banks, asking her to join a team that aims to contact and communicate with the alien threat. Joined by Dr. Ian Donnelly, a nuclear physicist, played by Jeremy Renner, Banks gathers a team and resources to communicate with the aliens; ultimately aiming to ask, “What is your purpose here?”

Now this premise doesn’t seem extremely interesting, as there are no big explosions, alien laser weapons, or any parasitic xenomorphs (see Alien), but the film creates extreme tenseness and suspense; keeping the audience guessing until the end about how the conflict will resolve. As Banks and her team race to solve the puzzle of how to communicate with the aliens, the world begins to slowly fall apart around them, as massive hysteria, panic, and fear spread across the world, leading governments to act rashly and alone, not unified. No one, the audience included, know who will act first. Are the aliens going to attack or will humanity make the first aggressive move?
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In addition to this films brilliantly created suspense and thrills, the movie is extremely visually and audibly pleasing. It is obvious that Villeneuve values the set pieces and setting as factors that enhance the viewing experience. Vast panning shots of the spacecraft and surrounding environment are breathtaking and aid in the immersement of the audience into the movie. The film’s score, composed by Max Richter, is awe inspiring; creating chills down the spine and is tangibly there next to you in your seat. It is truly a masterpiece to hear.

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Overall this movie is a true gem as it fully grabs the audience andpulls them into the setting and narrative, making them feel a whole range of emotions within its whole runtime. I thoroughly recommend this movie, and wholeheartedly advocate that you see it in theaters, as it does justice to the visuals and score which are such an integral part of this movie’s viewing experience. So I encourage you, go edify yourself and enjoy a brilliant movie because they have arrived.

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Arrival: Redefining Science Fiction