Arrival (2016) Review: Soul-Stirring Sci-fi Sans Blockbuster Clichés

Arrival movie review sci fi

The story revolves around a linguist expert cum college lecturer Louise Banks (Amy Adams), who is caught up with traumatic memories of her daughter and is called upon for help by the government when twelve extraterrestrial objects (nicknamed ‘Shells’) appear across the planet. With a willingness to interact with the ET (tremendous use of VFX) to figure out the reason for their visit, Louis is given the task to break the language barrier, along with Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), an astrophysicist. Things begin to complicate when key information is comprehended and fear of extinction unsettles the world. Arrival

The last time I was so awestruck by a film was Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar. Now, two years later comes another film of a similar genre that has left me beyond amazed. Not because I love science fiction but because the genre always has a huge potential to astonish us with novel and hard-hitting concepts. And Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival emerges epically victorious.

The filmmaker, undoubtedly, has given us some phenomenal films (Prisoners, Sicario). But I wasn’t expecting anything of this level. We’ve had numerous films based on the notion of making first contact with external beings. Arrival makes you forget everything you’ve seen in the past. It offers ample goosebump and unforgettable moments.


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Everything about the film feels exceedingly real. Thanks to the excellent cinematography, the profoundly chilling background score, and the performances, which are simply put, outstanding! The biggest compliment that can be given to an actor is when their performance doesn’t feel like acting. The film is a spectacle of its own kind but the execution of the rich dialogues leaves you spellbound. Providing the film its heart and soul is Amy Adams. Arguably the best female artist as of now, Amy delivers her career’s finest performance. Both as a linguist and a mother, she is effortless in her role. Too early a call to make but Adams might just win an Academy award for this one. Jeremy Renner, on the other hand, renders an equally great performance and infuses some comedy with his natural wit.



The film is gripping from start to finish as the plot unveils in a prodigious manner. One can bet on the unpredictability of the script as the extraordinary twists in the tale are hard to foresee. There is a magical touch in Denis Villeneuve‘s films for how he tells his stories, that are equally compellingly directed. The film may seem like a fun alien invasion thriller from its trailers and TV spots, but thanks to the clever marketing (which didn’t give away the plot), it’s much more than that.

Arrival is deep, moving, thought-provoking, and utterly whimsical which never insults the intellect of the viewer. Watch it with an open mind and prepare for some heavy after-movie discussion.

Rating: 5/5

By Mayank Nailwal


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