It’s not impossible to give audiences both a puzzle-box narrative and an exploration of life choices and what it means to be human, but the balance just doesn’t play here.
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To enjoy the film's arresting musings on language, time and how much we can ever understand others, you'll have to close your eyes and ears to the wealth of schlocky hokum surrounding them.
Anchored by an internalized performance from Amy Adams rich in emotional depth, this is a grownup sci-fi drama that sustains fear and tension while striking affecting chords on love and loss.
Arrivals becomes an unexpectedly moving rumination on life’s bigger questions by its end. While it looks to other worlds, its main pleasure turns out to be the most intimate of questions.
Arrival, the shimmering apex of Villeneuve’s run of form that started back in 2010 with “Incendies,” calmly, unfussily and with superb craft, thinks its way out of the black hole that tends to open up when ideas like time travel, alien contact and the next phase of human evolution are bandied about.
Despite some imperfections, Arrival is a close encounter with the best of intelligent, thoughtful science fiction.
Adams draws on her gift for making each and every moment quiver with discovery. The actress is alive to what’s around her, even when it’s just ordinary, and when it’s extraordinary the inner fervor she communicates is quietly transporting.
Arrival is a big, risky, showy movie which jumps up on its high-concept highwire and disdains a net. And yes, there are moments of silliness when it wobbles a little, but it provides you with spectacle and fervent romance.
This is riveting, dizzying stuff from Villeneuve.
Adams gives a nicely polished, muted performance: She keeps the story grounded when the ideas Villeneuve is striving for threaten to get too lofty. And the picture is intelligently and effectively crafted, one of those enterprises where the cinematography, sound design and score, as well as the special effects, melt into a seamless, organic whole.