Master of the psychological-thriller, director Denis Villeneuve (Incendies, Enemy) has turned his sights to the oft-cliched alien flick.
Unlike the majority of said movies, Villeneuve puts the focus on humanity, mainly how, even when alien craft land and lurk menacingly around the world, mankind’s inability to work together for extended periods puts the entire species at risk of miscommunication with these newly-discovered beings.
The opening sequence, particulalry, is masterful, as Dr. Louise Banks (in a masterful performance from the rapidly growing presence of Amy Adams) learns of the crafts’ arrival in trademark Villeneuve subtley.
The scenes with the aliens are the highlights of the film. Their identieis are, quite literally, shrouded in fog, and the process of figuring out their intentions, and the communication itself, is never more exciting than it is when Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are alone with the creatures.
Unfortunately, this is where the film’s excitement starts and ends. Villeneuve, in an effort to distinguish his film from the wealth of others in this genre, builds to a twist that doesn’t justify the incredibly slow burn leading up to it.
Rather than be emotionally impactful, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth regarding the character it concerns, and is a narrative cop-out in its miniscule scale given the amount of build-up the film has fostered.
Jeremy Renner’s character Ian is underused given his supposed centrality to the plot, though he, like Adams, helps elevate every scene he’s in.
Ultimately, Arrival is a film that offers a welcome departure from the cliche alien movie becoming all too common in today’s cinema, but squanders its premise and ambition with an overlong build-up to an underwhelming climax.
Arrival opens in Australian cinemas on November 10th, and in America on November 11th.
Directed by: Denis Villeneuve (‘Incendies‘, ‘Prisoners‘, ‘Sicario‘)
Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker