The Arrival (2016)

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Take it from me, watching the trailer for The Arrival over and over in the cinemas these last few months has driven me further and further away from this freaky sci-fi drama, but Denis Villeneuve’s surprisingly audacious new film skirts the very edge of absurdity and humanity. I’m always agnostic about sci-fi ‘disappointments’, such as Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar or Jeff Nichols’ Midnight Special, but The Arrival is a mature and thoughtful piece that uses first-contact premise as not merely a set up for a doomsday epic, but as a platform for a powerful and nuanced exploration of love, relationships and the human condition.

As twelve mysterious spacecrafts land in varying locations across the globe, we see college students’ phones explode with the breaking news. Humanity’s reaction is the very core of this film, as priorities methodically unfold before the ships – or shells – are finally revealed. Here the tone is set for a desperate hunt for survival. Amy Adams is Dr Louise Banks, a professor of comparative linguistics, and naturally the first point of contact when a bunch of military guys need help translating the language of these aliens. But as the film unfolds, the question of ‘Why are you here?’ greatly pends, as humanity fights against itself to preserve what remains of its peaceful existence.

Denis Villeneuve’s approach to The Arrival builds on a rich body of work, with films such as Prisoners and Sicario absorbing a remarkable world of symmetrical compositions and patient camera moves. But in addition to superb screen composition, The Arrival’s extraordinary success draws from its ability to resonate emotionally on an almost incomprehensible level. As the drama unfolds, you’ll be biting your fingernails in anticipation. This combination of human interaction, bravura style and grand science-fiction depth looks at the vulnerability and sacrifice of humanity to transcend the genre of sci-fi altogether. I guarantee that it will leave you speechless.

An intelligent and wildly gripping film, The Arrival dazzles from beginning to end, causing us to re-evaluate the world around us in the very fabric of humanity. It is simply art, at a time when so many seem intent on walling on themselves or their country – its exactly what we need.

★★★★☆

Imdb – 8.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes – 93%

Gravity – Don’t Let Go (2013)

Just in from Academy Award winning director Alfonso Cuaron comes this outstanding Science fiction thriller. With no stronghold of fantasy, the film is simple and engaging throughout. Gravity is outstanding from a cinematography perspective complete with raw acting and perfect tone. But at the same time the story line is fairly slow, lacking pace and often sub-plots. The film is attractive yet alarming, elaborate yet gigantic and specific yet astronomically engaging. It’s directly a survival story set in outer space with no glamour, aliens or automated robots, just pure humanity.

Gravity opens with a speck in the darkness that grows into an exceptionally vivid shot that seemingly lasts forever. The Earth’s spectrum is captured from over 500 km in outer space where there are a number of trained astronauts working tirelessly in a space station. The focus shifts primarily to a skillful medical engineer by the name of Dr. Ryan Stone who is busy fixing an exterior spacecraft malfunction. A veteran astronaut on his final mission accompanies her out on the spaceship, clowning around and cracking jokes. All of a sudden the pair are informed of debris traveling from a nearby space station propelling towards them. The rest of the film is their detailed struggle for survival.

Gravity only features two living and breathing actors, Just in from Academy Award winning director Alfonso Cuaron comes this outstanding Science fiction thriller. With no stronghold of fantasy, the film is simple and engaging throughout. Gravity is outstanding from a cinematography perspective complete with raw acting and perfect tone. But at the same time the story line is fairly slow, lacking pace and often sub-plots. The film is attractive yet alarming, elaborate yet gigantic and specific yet astronomically engaging. It’s directly a survival story set in outer space with no glamour, aliens or automated robots, just pure humanity.