The last time a scifi movie moved us as much as Arrival was Predestination (2014), the Spierig brothers’ adaptation of Robert A Heinlein’s 1959 short story, -All You Zombies-.
Arrival – which came out in the USA in Nov 2016 – is also similarly based on a critically acclaimed short story viz. Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life, from 1998.
Superficially, Arrival appears to be a clichéd alien invasion tale. The initial plot summary says it all, really: –
When 12 mysterious spacecraft appear around the world, linguistics professor Louise Banks is tasked with interpreting the language of the apparent alien visitors.
But in fact, the alien invasion is simply a device to tell the real story – that of main character Louise Banks and her close encounter with the alien “heptapods” that gives her a para-human ability — to see into the future.
It is then that we realise that all the “flashbacks” of Banks and her daughter Hannah (which we will see from the beginning of the film) are in fact, flashforwards. By this point, our mind has been blown by the revelations as we marvel at the brilliant writing that had facilitated this masterstroke.
Unlike the generic scifi blockbuster, Arrival does not depend on violence and big explosions to entertain but instead utilises non-linear storytelling and high concepts to create a thought-provoking masterpiece.
These are similar themes shared by Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar – determinism, perception and the intrinsic value of family. And like the best scifi stories, tells us about what it means to be human and the impact of technology on our lives.
It is simple and complex at the same time and that is why it ultimately succeeds. Kudos.
Watch the trailer:
Arrival is in Singapore cinemas now.
… still there’s more …