The arrival is, not surprisingly considering its name, a film about aliens coming to Earth. But unlike most other alien visitation films it’s not an action movie with a buff leading man and a comic sidekick.
Amy Adams stars as Louise Banks, a linguistics lecturer, who appears to be happily single and dedicated to her work.
When 12 odd egg-like crafts land on across the world the general population starts to panic - as you would if you’d seen too many films like War of the Worlds or Independence Day. But not Amy’s character. She is chill A F.
But she is torn away from her scholarly reclusive life to go and help the military. Yep. She may just be a linguist and translator but that is exactly why they need her. You see, what it all comes down to when you are dealing with a new alien species that is obviously smart enough to get here from lightyears away, is communication. It’s like any good relationship. It’s best when both parties can speak clearly and openly without any confusion. Especially when you are asking aliens what they are doing here.
This is where things get interesting.
Louise and fellow helper gnome (Jeremy Renner) meet the aliens – known as Hectapods - and discover that they do in fact communicate, just not verbally. They write using some kind of puffy black smoke that they shoot out their feet. These are my kind of Aliens!
Interestingly their language is not lineal, it’s circular, meaning that they compose a sentence simultaneously, knowing the end as they know the beginning.
As Louise learns to speak Hectapod she also starts to think Hectapod. Non lineal. Therefore her memories are not of yesterday but of tomorrow and beyond. The more she learns the more she sees into the future. She sees herself reading Hectapod and therefore instantly knows how to do so from said futuristic memory.
Finally Louise knows enough to finally ask the Aliens what they want on Earth. They are offering a gift. The gift is their language. In 3000 years they already know that they will need the help of humans to survive. So now they offer their language as a gift.
But that is where the explanation ends and it really annoys me!
The film was so occupied with showing Louise’s personal life challenges, that it missed a great opportunity to make a valid point.
Why else could the Hectapods be interested in giving us humans the gift of seeing the future? Hmmm? If the Hectapods need us in the future then perhaps they will need us to still be here. Living on a planet that has not been completely raped and pillaged and destroyed by climate change. This film could have hit home an amazing message about 12 main countries being forced to work together to all simultaneously see the future and what we are currently going to make of it.
But it didn’t really go there.
While the use of Hectapod language ultimately prevents the humans from being dicks and blowing shit up, it doesn’t seem to help join the dots together and form a bigger picture.
The Arrival was a good film. I enjoyed it so much. I loved the concept of language and communication playing huge roll in how we think. I loved the shifts in perspective and the twists. I loved how we could feel Louise's passion for what she does. I really enjoyed this film. Perhaps that’s why I was disappointed at the last piece of the puzzle not being put in place. It could have a great film.