12A – 116mins – 2016
STORY OF YOUR LIFE
Measured in tone and tempered in pace, this intelligent first contact science fiction drama – adapted from Ted Chiang’s short story by screenwriter Eric The Conjuring 2 Heisserer and directed by Denis Sicario Villeneuve – is definitely more Interstellar than Independence Day in its elegant and awe-inspiring execution. Released this coming Friday in the UK, I was granted an Unlimited Card exclusive early screening last night courtesy of Cineworld.
Nocturnal Animals star Amy Adams clocks up her second big screen bow of the month as linguist expert Louise Banks, recruited by the US military’s Colonel Webber (Forest Whitaker) alongside leading scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy “Hawkeye” Renner) to board one of twelve shell-shaped UFO’s hovering ominously at seemingly random sites around the globe. Every 18 hours this hastily established crack team are permitted to suit up and enter the gravity-defying craft in order to engage – as best they can – with the bark-skinned octopus-like aliens (known as heptapods) in an attempt to answer the ultimate question: “What is your purpose on Earth?”
With the public in crisis and the other eleven government agencies all crafting their own un-unified techniques in communication with the ink-squirting extra-terrestrials, diverse and conflicting theories abound about how to respond to a race who “speak” entire sentences in hovering circular splashes. As the prospect of attack grown, time begins to run out for Adams’ grieving singleton, who still debilitating suffers lapses into remembrances of her tragically deceased child.
I am a huge fan of unhurried and absorbing sci-fi epics (Ex_Machina, Alien, The Fountain to name but three) and for long periods Arrival’s intense, sombre quality made me certain I had discovered another masterpiece of equally high quality. Alas, ultimately its ranking is scuppered somewhat, diminished by a too-clever-for-its-own-good twist which might logically come together, but for me was one shark jump too far into “out there” territory. Unusual, original and confidently dedicated to its storytelling style, Arrival is by no means bad, but for such an intelligent movie, it is a little silly.
CR@B’s Claw Score: