The most notable cinematic aliens to visit Monatana (since the Star Trekkers brought the Borg) have landed there and in eleven other global locations. Linguist, Dr. Louise Banks, (Amy Adams) and Theoretical Physicist, Ian Donnelly, (Jeremy Renner) are sent to work out what they want. All global locations are on high alert as they try to work together in the race for a breakthrough. The U.S. Military is represented by a benign Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) while intelligence is served by an obtuse Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlbarg).
Director Denis Villeneuve delivers the action at a slow and steady rate; his sense of apprehension-building makes the film seem to have more pace than it actually does. The majority of scenes are interiors; mixed with the apprehension, this gives the film an appropriately claustrophobic and tense quality. The Sci-fi elements are set into a more grounded world to which we can relate. It follows more in the vein of Interstellar, Moon or Contact rather than the spectacles and high ideals of Star Wars and Star Trek. It is refreshingly subdued and contained for the sci fi genre.
All performances are appropriately understated; Amy Adams gives a subtle, thoughtful and retro-reflective performance as a bereaved mother and we are given a series of somewhat disconnected yet touching memories of her relationship with her daughter as she battles to understand the Alien dialect. Jeremy Renner does his Jeremy Renner thing, with glasses because he is a mathematician, but does not feel out of place while doing it. Forest Whitaker brings an almost too benign and understanding quality to his Army Colonel and following with the film’s muted tone Stuhlbarg’s spiteful investigator is wonderfully snide rather than brash and loud.
There is an already contentious feature spliced into the plot which is no more bizarre than Interstellar and already some people are finding silly. While it could have dug deeper into an explanation of a few of these plot devices I still found it to be gentle, cozy and delivered endearingly despite its simplicity. It would sit comfortably beside “A.I.” in a sci-fi collection.
I came away with a warm content monies-worth feeling. Overall it worked for me.
Arrival on IMDB
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Like Superman avoids Kryptonite I had to dodge the many tweets and Facebook posts about Zack Snyder’s new reboot of the story of Kal El/Clark Kent “Man Of Steel” not to be tainted with the opinions of others. I will not spoil anything for anyone but I can plainly say for a fact that ‘Reboot’ is not strong enough a word. The plot of Man Of Steel is to the original story of Superman as Life of Brian is to Jesus Of Nazareth, without the laughs.
The story of Superman as you remember it stands very shyly in the background like a teenage girl waiting to be asked out by the shy teenage boy who fails to pluck up the courage. We have to make our way around gaping planet sized plot holes that I am presuming the film makers ignored because, well, it is a superman movie and everybody will go and see it. They were lazy and this does not befit the iconic character himself.
I lost count of inconsistencies as some of the humans in the film seemed impervious to fire or heat. Poor Krypton seemed to be doomed to pull itself apart by it’s own ridiculous contradictions. There is a throwaway reference to time travel which was never fully explained. When they cast Henry Cavill they must have thought, we’d better get someone who looks like Clark Kent or they audiences may not realise that we are making a Superman movie.
Lois Lane (Amy Adams) isn’t even the hard-nosed reporter we remember. Mr. Kent has been stripped of his moral crusader badge as he isn’t beyond breaking a law while showing blatant disregard for office buildings and sometimes Clark acts like Bruce banner while Superman fights like the Hulk.
As I let myself be lulled into this revisionist history of Krypton’s favourite son, I was attracted to how they treated his childhood (in flashback form) and the injection of philosophy was a nice touch (though the religious overtones were a little hard to bear), there are some stylish scenes depicting his powers developing. They skip over his teenage years (I feel that Smallville has a part to play there). But what finally made up for everything that came before and is the same thing that makes it worth a trip to the cinema are all the action scenes, the impact that he has not just on people but the planet and then the incredible destructive forces of his fight with fellow Kryptonians. The sheer sale of wanton destruction is hypnotic.
If you can forgive the re write, the action in the unspoken but obviously planned first of a trilogy is better than any seen before. It manages to surpass the fun but silly Superman Returns but lacks the charm of Christopher Reeves.