The Arrival Review

By: Daniel Velasquez

Dating back to 1897 when the book “War of the Words” was created, there has been a constant feud between aliens and humans in film. Hollywood has become repetitive in their tactics to depict these extraterrestrial beings as destructive monsters with a desire to take over Earth. This has been in movies for as long as we can remember with films such as Independence Day, Pacific Rim, Signs- well you get the idea. With the movie “The Arrival”, the approach to depict aliens took a turn for the better especially in relation to humanity and one’s place on this planet.

Director Denis Villeneuve does an amazing job at giving a visual representation at the vastness of space & how we are nothing compared to it. Amy Adams plays a linguist named Louise Banks that is called on by the government to try and communicate with an alien species. However this is difficult task for even one of the best linguists in the world. Since there is no common ground between the species and humanity, Banks has to figure out how to decipher a language that is composed of images made out of special ink, that have no beginning nor end, and that come from life forms she’s never seen before.

On top of that, constant visions of a little girl begin to plague Bank’s dreams. Although she’s never met or even seen this girl before in real life, it feels as though Banks has some sort of familiarity with her. The closer Banks gets to figuring out this unknown language, the more frequent these dreams become. As time progresses on and no further advancements have been made, people begin to get wary of the situation and come to question what is being done with these “aliens”. With outrage beginning to break out over the world, leaders of countries begin to go ghost. It soon begins to feel as though the weight of this project lies only with Banks as she is the only one making strides towards success of communication. 

Everything finally falls into place when Banks comes to realize that the way we view language is also how our species comprehends time. Our language is formed in a linear sequence adverse to the alien species whose language is continuously moving. No start. No finish. This is also how they depict life. Life for them has no beginning or end, but instead it is all simultaneously happening at the same time. She understands that these visions aren’t just dreams but are also a part of her life that she hasn’t lived yet. By understanding their language, the perception of time completely changes. In exchange for this “gift” given by the aliens, all they ask for in return is help that they will need in the future. 

If you’re looking for an alien movie shown in a different light then this is the one to see. The Arrival gives us an alternate perception of what we see as time and the effects it can relay on our life. The very question of the life we live and trying to understand everything that is underneath the stars becomes very fuzzy when we decide to take it one step further and go beyond all of that. If you are someone who always has their head in the clouds and their eyes to the stars, I couldn’t think of a better film that brings all of that to ground level in a unique and thought provoking way.

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