Are they here to help us or are they here to hurt us?
That’s the crux of Arrival from the start to finish of the 1-hour, 56-minute science fiction offering from director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Eric Heisserer.
Taken from the short story The Story of My Life by Ted Chiang, this is a they-came-from-outer-space tale long on make-you-think story and short on make-you-marvel flash-and-wow effects.
The acting carries the subtleties just fine.
Amy Adams is the centerpiece as Dr. Louise Banks, a professor-linguist in a sleepy town who’s shocked out of a semi-depressive state when her part of the world is chosen as the landing spot for one of 12 alien ships. The military comes a calling in the form of no-nonsense Colonel Weber, played by steady and steely Forest Whitaker. They’re met by Ian Donnelly, a science guy who can connect the dots played by personable but diligent Jeremy Renner.
The army has heard the aliens talking. Banks and Donnelly are charged with figuring out their language, communicating with them and finding out what the heck they want with us.
Action swirls around these three, yes, but their chemistry is such that the main scenes concentrate on them.
Yet this going on is some sort of fashion at the other 11 other landing sites around the world, and all nations are communicating via satellite, trying to figure out what to do about the … landing? Invasion?
What do they want from up there? How can we get along down here?
Interesting stuff, yes.
A study of alien strangeness and out-there science and human behavior all rolled up into one.
The fairly full 3:50 p.m. Veterans Day showing in the Regal Cinemas’ big theater at Syracuse mega shopping, dining and entertainment complex Destiny USA was clued in without making a rustle, even during the twists at the ending.
Thinking people at the movies. Nice.
What is your favorite they-came-from-outer-space movie, and why? Who do you like more, Amy Banks, Morgan Whitaker or Jeremy Renner, and why? Would you prefer flashy effects or thinking-plots for alien movies, and why?