November 16, 2016


Denis Villeneuve, 2016
Denis Villeneuve is without a doubt one of the most interesting filmmakers working today. His filmography spans through different genres. Abudction thriller in Prisoners. Psychological thriller in Enemy. Dark family drama in Incendies. Drug action thriller in Sicario. They are films with a particular distinction, a noticeable intensity. They all carry a certain weight to them. They all feel like they were in the hands of a confident, capable filmmaker. 

Arrival is his first real dab into sci-fi genre, a taste of maybe what we can expect when his take on Blade Runner is released in 2017. Arrival is an adaptation of a Ted Chiang short story that got tossed around by the studios quite a bit before finally getting some life. Starring Amy Adams, it is rooted in an alien invasion film but has some real family-oriented emotion to it. Its what a film would look like if Contact and Independence Day had a baby. The visual elements are fresh and inventive. It refuses to dumb itself down. If it were to dumb itself down it would certainly feel much more like Independence day. And Arrival probably won't fill theaters like an Independence Day would. Its not that kind of movie. Its a thinking mans Sci-Fi. Like they should be. The way that the film plays with time and a non-linear format is really remarkable. There are moments of pure tension in this film. When the crew first enters the alien spacecraft and as they approach the glass wall the score kicks in with an incredibly loud humming that feels like Han Zimmer's Inception score. What a great decision it was to cast Adams. She possesses the perfect amount of vulnerability and curiosity needed for the Louise character. Villeneuve continues to create mystique around spider-like creatures in his films but instead of eight legged beings they are instead seven legged heptapods. The film explores questions about humanity, how we perceive the unknown as threats, how time can interact with our universe. 

It's probably the second best film Villeneuve has done. Incendies will continue to hold the number one spot for me personally but this is a movie that needs to be seen by cinephiles. The sci-fi genre doesnt typically get a lot of best picture love so this one probably will not get that time of recognition but its just another remarkable piece in Villeneuve's already impressive filmography.

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