For as long as Hollywood itself has existed, there have always been aliens. That is, a whole lot of movies about aliens. From campy B-flicks (The Day The Earth Stood Still), kid-friendly classics (E.T. The Extra Terrestrial), blood-splattered horror flicks (Alien), popcorn-poppin’ blockbusters (Star Wars, Avatar), to even something approaching satire (District 9), these “little green men” have penetrated our culture almost to the point where it’s become a cinematic cliché. However, there is one film that is…well…slightly different from all the rest. This film is so different that it just about boggled my mind.
That film is most definitely Arrival.
OK Arrival is most definitely not your typical run-of-the-mill alien-invasion horror flick. In fact, it’s basically the virtual opposite of that particular genre. So if you’re expecting an Aliens-style screamfest filled with endless jump-scares and gore, you will get a big surprise. Considering the endless amount of ridiculously gruesome horror flicks today, that might almost come as a relief, but unfortunately, considering the massive amount of praise and recognition the film has gotten, the plot has some serious holes in it. First off, in case you were wondering exactly HOW they would show the aliens, the answer is simple: they don’t. OK, fine, we more or less see their silhouettes (from what I can tell, they sort of look like octopuses), but the rest is literally obscured by mist (or in the film’s case, gas that the aliens can breathe in). Unfortunately, a lot of essential plot points follow suit. Just look inside the alien spaceship where some curious explorers are suddenly able to literally (I’m not joking, I swear) walk straight up the walls with zero effort while white-suited scientists stare in awe below. OK, so does gravity not exist in alien spaceships or something? Cause last time I checked, the laws of physics can’t be completely reversed by walking inside a metal tube. And even when they somehow REACH the aliens, besides from them being virtually invisible, they’re even separated from the aliens by a GLASS WALL that the aliens SOMEHOW managed to use to pilot the entire spaceship to Earth. I’ve seen stoner movies that didn’t quite get this weird.
All right, all right, if you really liked the movie and are outright horrified at my review, I don’t blame you. Although the film does feature some notable flaws, the concept certainly is interesting, and Amy Adams’ performance certainly is stellar (if slightly overdone). However, if the film was more of an interesting sci-fi thriller than a tedious, overplayed metaphor on life itself, it certainly would not be AS perplexing and confusing as it is, especially in the ludicrous “alien-ink-circle-language-enables-heroine-to-time-travel” scene. And speaking of that particular scene, as I found out later through Wikipedia, it was originally that the aliens gave the heroine a set of blueprints for a galaxy-traveling spaceship, which you do have to admit would be a LOT cooler and more interesting than the stupid “gift of language” bit. Unfortunately, right about the time that particular script was written, Christoper Nolan’s similarly space-trippin’ movie Interstellar hit theaters and I guess the director didn’t want to be sued by Christoper Nolan or something so he frantically changed it to what you see today. Ugh. Plus, as I mentioned before, this is definitely NOT an epic sci-fi thriller at all (no matter how much the trailer makes it look like one). In fact, the ONLY thing that would even REMOTELY give it a PG-13 (or a PG, for that matter) is ONE f-bomb that some character just HAD to drop (which might have even been intentionally put in the script so the film would get a PG-13 rating in the first place) or, as the MPAA puts it, “brief strong language”. Anyway, the point is, although it’s definitely not the worst movie in the world, the film definitely doesn’t rank up there with better-known (as well as just better) cinematic science-fiction classics.