I remember going to the cinema and seeing a poster for this new film called ‘Arrival’ and it stuck in my mind because Jeremy Renner was in it and I do have a crush on this former Avenger. Is he still an Avenger? The Avengers aren’t really a thing anymore, but I don’t know for sure.
Anyway, I was surprised that this film was so highly regarded because on the outset, it looked like an ordinary film about aliens given the utterly generic title but now I’ve seen it, I can’t help but feel that the film is trying too hard to seem ‘deep’.
I’ll give a brief summary of the plot because going into too much detail will give away a few of my talking points so here we go.
One day, twelve alien spacecrafts arrive on Earth, sending the world into a panic. At the craft hovering over Montana, Linguist, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and Physicist, Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are recruited by the US army to communicate with the aliens and try and understand why they have arrived on Earth. Do they come in peace? OK, that was terrible.
But, it’s a little bit more complicated than that.
Starting with the things that I’m not pleased about. Let’s start with the main characters.
We are led to believe right from the start that Louise has had this painful past which ties in to the end ‘Shyamalan’ twist so her fragile, tender demeanor is understandable. Sadly, Ian doesn’t get a character. He’s the Physicist and the love interest for Louise. That’s not really out of order for me to say. I think it’s totally fair to suggest that Louise is the ‘main main’ character and Ian is the love interest.
It’s very clear who’s side the film is on and that’s Louise because she’s fairly sure that the human race are dicks all because of a perfectly natural human response to an unusual and terrifying situation.
So, Aliens turn up. What are they here for? The human race starts to panic. Now, the human race is capable of some fairly stupid things but even I can work out that if these beings from another world that are capable of interstellar travel were hostile, they’d have blown the whole planet to smithereens without even touching down. Or, they’d have pulled a ‘Signs’ and an ‘Independence Day’ and just come down to fuck with everyone. These Aliens seem nice and just want a chat but they can’t speak English which is what everyone speaks in American films, even Aliens, so they have these bizarre symbols.
Eventually, Louise and Ian figure out that each of the twelve countries have been given separate messages and they have to work together to figure out what it is.
Do you know what that is? A gift. But what is the gift? That’s the ‘Shyamalan’ twist.
At the start, we see Louise with her young daughter, Hannah. As Hannah grows into adolescence, she’s diagnosed with an incurable illness and dies in her teens, leaving Louise devastated. Then, the aliens arrive and all throughout the film, Louise has brief glimpses of her daughter making us believe that this is all happening in chronological order.
In reality, it’s all lies and the aliens were giving Louise a warning that she will have a child with Ian and she will die. Not only that but once the child is born, Louise will tell Ian that their daughter will die a tragically young age and she knew about it all along, causing him to leave her. This must be a warning. But at the end, they get together and presumably, she plans to go through with the marriage and the baby, all the while knowing the outcome.
Of course, this is a subjective moral choice where the viewer can basically decide whether or not she’s doing the right thing. Personally, I think that going into something as serious as a marriage and giving birth to a child, knowing that it’s going to be ‘all pain, all around’ is not the best decision to make for all parties. I don’t think it makes her ‘brave’ or ‘strong’. It’s kind of a dick move.
For this reason, I think the film is reaching. That and the whole, ‘bringing the world together’ type of bullshit that we try and teach children. In fact, all the aliens did with their ‘arrival’ was bring to world to the brink of war. We were doing just fine, thanks. OK, maybe ‘fine’ is pushing it.
With a budget of $47 Million, ‘Arrival’ took $203.4 Million worldwide with is really great and everyone thought the film was really great.
I’m not saying it’s a bad film. It’s very well directed and I would have been a lot happier if it wasn’t so patronizing and blatantly obvious in it’s presentation. I know war is bad, stop telling me.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this anime on my Netflix account isn’t going to watch itself.
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