So, we had a review of Trolls last week, and I’ve got another movie review for you today. I’ve got one on tap for next week as well – be prepared, blog readers. Good movie season is upon us, and The Boy has gotten it into his head that there are a lot of movies that he’s interested in seeing. I like movies too, so who am I to argue?
I like science fiction, but I tend to be more interested in what’s called “realistic sci-fi” – the kind that doesn’t feature as many space ships and shootouts with ray guns. I definitely enjoy a good Star Wars or Trek, but give me something speculative, and near-future focused like the implicit sci-fi of Black Mirror, or the dangers of AI in both Ex Machina or Westworld. I like my sci-fi to leave me deep in contemplation afterwards – could that really happen? Is that where we’re headed?
So a little over a week ago when the Boy declared that we needed to go see Arrival, and potentially to see it on a (gasp!) weeknight, I was ok with it. It looked intriguing. I do love my fellow ginger Amy Adams, and it looked thoughtful and interesting. So off we went on a school night, stopping at a local brewpub ahead of time for dinner (too meh to mention), and cozied in for a movie. Quick side note: we went on a Tuesday at our local Regal theater, and since we have a Regal card, tickets were $5.50 each. Which is RIDICULOUS. We have vowed to always go to Tuesday night movies from now on.
What is Arrival? Well, Amy Adams is a professor of languages and linguistics, and during one of her classes, news breaks that there’s been the simultaneous arrival of 12 large alien “ships”. They are large and look mostly like dried beans, but no one knows why they’re there. Amy’s character still has her security clearance from some work she did helping out the military, and now they’re back to ask her to try and figure out how to communicate with this alien race. A couple times each day, a door opens on the ship, and allows for humans to go in and “visit” with the aliens, each group on their own side of a thick sheet of glass. Eventually, Amy’s character begins to make real progress with communication, but the problem is that there are parts of the world where things are less patient and the US contingent takes their cues from these more aggressive interactions. It’s all very tense and thrilling.
You may have heard that there’s a twist. It’s a good one. I kind of saw it coming about halfway through, and we are given more and more hints as the audience after that time. No spoilers on that in my review.
I will say that both the Boy and I really liked it. It made us want to go home and watch Contact (which we did not do, but may?), and when I was scrolling through facebook recently, I came across this fascinating article about Arrival (WARNING: FULL OF SPOILERS), which classifies it with Contact as “hard”/realistic sci-fi movies that are more realistic. And then proceeds to trash them as boring and slow and predictable, and then proceeds to throw every recent popular sci-fi movie that made you think about where we as humans could go in the near future as ‘not good enough’. Apparently, the only science fiction we need in our lives is either 2001: A Space Odyssey, or else Sunshine.
I don’t know. Take that article with a grain of salt. I liked Arrival. A lot of other people did too. If you’re the kind of person who likes Amy Adams, likes thoughtful science fiction, or even likes stories about people who are just plain smart and good at their jobs, this is a movie you’ll like. And you wouldn’t be wasting your time in going to see it. After all – any movie that can provoke continued conversation afterwards about life and the universe is what we need more of in our lives.
Details: Arrival, written by Eric Heisserer, directed by Denis Villeneuve. In theaters now.