Amy Adams has had a very successful 2016, with two of her films both opening to such great critical acclaim and buzz. The first of which was the Tom Ford-directed Nocturnal Animals, and the second being the latest from Prisoners and Sicario helmer Denis Villeneuve: Arrival.

When 12 mysterious spacecrafts touch down in various cities across the globe, Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) recruits linguistics professor Louisa Banks (Amy Adams) to team up with scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and go into the alien pods and use her language expertise to communicate with these extraterrestrial visitors and find out just why they have come to Earth. However, as she races against the clock, she begins to find herself getting entangled deeper and deeper with these creatures and their means of communication.
Arrival is a very complex and nuanced sci-fi film. The premise, as simple as it may seem on paper, is quite the opposite; this is a gripping and utterly captivating story that will make you think and ponder. Unlike most films about extraterrestrial beings, Arrival doesn't focus on epic action sequences and battles and superpowers but rather remains grounded and focuses on telling a story that would be more like what would actually happen if this sort of situation was to occur in the real world today. And despite featuring aliens and such wondrous ideas, this feels remarkably grounded and real. It's a very human story and a very relatable one as a result. The screenplay, from horror-alum Eric Heisserer is truly genius - and easily one of the best screenplays of the year. This is a surprisingly fresh and original story and Villeneuve tells it beautifully; the narrative is clever and never shows its cards, Villeneuve and Heisserer always keep the audience guessing and on their toe and there is something so refreshing about that and about how this film tells its story.

I've always been a big fan of Denis Villeneuve's, ever since his directorial debut with 2013's Prisoners. Between that, the complex and clever Enemy, last year's thrilling Sicario, and now Arrival, Villeneuve has shown that he is a tour de force in directing and storytelling to be reckoned with and one of the finest filmmakers currently working today. His direction here is masterful and he helms this film beautifully; he has crafted the narrative in a way that is surprising and gripping and he tells this story so brilliantly. The editing is also great and Villeneuve really pays attention to such little details here - whether it's framing of a shot to the delivery of a certain line of dialogue, it's all important and necessary to our investment in this film as a whole. The cinematography is astounding and gorgeous too - this is easily one of the best-looking films of the year - as it always is in Villeneuve's films; cinematographer Bradford Young really gets some big, sweeping shots and it looks truly magnificent. The score too, also similarly to all of Denis' films, is great; it adds a lot to the tension and the tone and plays a pivotal role in creating the atmosphere.
As well as having a good story, Arrival also has some great characters in Louisa, Ian, and Weber. They're very genuine and real characters; the film portrays them as real people and doesn't try to paint them as idealistic heroes or anything. As a result of this, there's a genuine sense of relatability to them all and we find ourselves won over by their natural charisma and their likeability and instantly rooting for them. The acting is all astonishingly good too! Forest Whitaker and Jeremy Renner are both great, as are other supporting cast members such as Michael Stuhlbarg, and Tzi Ma. However, this is Amy Adams' film and she steals the show here, giving yet another Oscar-calibre performance. Between this and Nocturnal Animals this Awards season, she has shown just why she is one of the best actresses working today. She brings a lot of levity and humanity to Louisa here and brings the perfect balance of emotion and intrigue to her too.

Arrival is one of the most mature sci-fi films to have released in some time. However, it's also one of the best sci-fi films to have released in some time too, definitely up there alongside last year's glorious Ex Machina as one of the best films in this genre for some time. This is complex and complicated and nuanced and driven very much by its characters and its thought-provoking and richly written screenplay; it's not your typical sci-fi blockbuster but it's superior to them in every regard. It's not a flawless film by any means, though, and the mystery that Villeneuve sets up, trusting his audience to figure things out for themselves, is somewhat deflated with all the over-exposition that we get - and don't necessarily need - in the third act. It's a slow paced film too - and this works in favour of the film, opting to take its time with telling its story - but there are definitely times when the pacing does grind to a halt. However, these flaws are certainly very minuscule, because Arrival is incredible, nonetheless. Denis Villeneuve has proven himself yet again as a director to watch but he has also proven he can helm science-fiction films quite impressively too. You know what that means? Bring on Blade Runner 2049.

VERDICT:
Arrival is as mature and nuanced a sci-fi as they come; this is a complex, gorgeous and simply astounding piece of cinema.




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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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