It took a month and a half to catch up with Arrival, but better late than never, no?
Best sci-fi film I’ve seen in ages (and we’re counting Zootopia as sci-fi). It has everything I’m looking for in a sci-fi movie:
- Good Writing
- Good Story
- Good Characters & Performances
- Good Special Effects
- Good Theme
Add to that a nice big slathering dollop o’Sense Of Wonder plus some aliens that finally look like they come from another planet and not some remote corner of this one and you’ve got about as perfect example of the high end of the genre as one could hope for.
Based on the Nebula Award winning “Story Of Your Life” by Ted Chiang from a script by Eric Heisserer. More of this and ratchet back the Star Wars / Alien / Blade Runner / superhero derived movies, please.
Meaning it’s actually about something, and not just a series of money shots strung together to sell popcorn. I like whiz bang sci-fi as much as the next fanboy, but there’s more to the genre than action-adventure and monster movies disguised as sci-fi films.
Too often sci-fi films have A Really Cool Idea then try to tack on a romance or some pseudo-Oedipian melodrama to make the characters’ “relatable”. Arrival’s personal drama is absolutely essential to the story, and the film could not exist without either the sci-fi or the personal element. Go thou and do likewise, young sci-fi scribe…
Far too often in movies of any genre a romantic sub-plot is introduced to enable the presumably stereotypical female members of the audience to vicariously enjoy the story by identifying with the girlfriend of the real hero, or conversely to reassure the presumably stereotypical male members of the audience that the plucky heroine succeeded only because she had A Good Guy watching her
butt back and allowing her Do What Needed To Be Done. Arrival has none of that and is much the better for it since it permits real drama to shine through.
Thankfully kept in balance throughout the film as director Denis Villeneuve steered clear of spaceship porn and just focused on telling the story, not dazzling us with extraneous details.
Rational beings with honorable intent will find ways of cooperating to everyone’s benefit.