Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 30, 2017


Shout out Louise: Amy Adams
ARRIVAL (2016). Director: Dennis Villeneuve.

Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), a linguist, is called in when aliens arrive on earth in twelve different countries, in big black "spaceships" that resemble eggs cut in half. The aliens are "heptapods" with seven legs or tentacles who communicate with pictures they can create seemingly out of thin air. While the nations of the world worry about the extra-terrestrials' intentions. Louise and others (including the audience)  try to figure out what, if anything, they're saying. Part of the problem with Arrival  -- and there are many -- is that the aliens' concept of time is non-linear, and it turns out this is true of the movie itself, where things that you think are happening in the past will actually happen in the future. Or something like that. I appreciate the fact that Arrival is different from most other sci fi alien movies in that it is low-key (albeit creepy at times) and is at least making an attempt to be something a little more thoughtful, but it really isn't any more profound than, say, The Day the Earth Stood Still. Lots of things conspire to make some viewers think they're seeing a great movie: a back (or future) story about Louise's cute daughter (hence "arrival" also refers to the child's birth -- deep, huh?); excellent cinematography by Bradford Young; and those achingly plaintive violins contributed by composer Johann Johannsson, whose music actually does most of the work. Then there's the fact that some people will think the movie must be profound because they have absolutely no idea of what's actually going on. The irritating Amy Adams delivers all of her lines in a virtual whisper, and Jeremy Renner makes little impression as another scientist and someone who may or may not play a part in Louise's future -- or past. A business with a bomb on the alien ship and its non-existent aftermath is handled in so abrupt and perfunctory a manner that it's almost laughable.

Verdict: At first this is intriguing -- until you realize it's much ado about nothing. **.


angelman66 said...

Bill, I totally agree with your astute review. I too was intrigued as the story unfolded, but then it turned out to be a big fat nothingburger. Reminded me of how I felt about Jodie Foster's Contact - the same empty feeling, like I had been cheated out of a potentially good story. I still am in need of the "ultimate" UFO-Extraterrestrial movie that will blow my mind!

I do like Amy Adams, though, she is very talented and I generally enjoy her performances.

William said...

Adams left me cold in this, but it could have been a reflection of the movie. I warn you that I'm going to steal your term "big fat nothingburger" -- I love it! I'm not anxious to experience "Contact" if it's along the same lines as this pic

angelman66 said...

Yes, do skip Contact, it was a big disappointment...