Arrival – Film Review

What’s it about?

Arrival,the latest science fiction film from acclaimed filmmaker Denis Villeneuve, is the story of humanity’s first contact with extraterrestrial life.

    When mysterious spaceships appear all over the world, Dr.Louise Banks, a respected linguist, is swept off by the military to be a part of a team of scientists tasked with interacting with the extraterrestrial beings and finding out the purpose for their visit. However, not everyone wants to talk with these beings, as many nations view the arrival of these spaceships as an invasion. As fear and paranoia grips the world, Louise along with Ian Donnelly, a theoretical physicist, race against time to find these answers that could be the key to the survival of humanity itself.

What’s good?

The treatment to this subject is different from your average sci-fi fare. The makers go for the slow burn approach which succeeds in building up the tension as the film progresses. The first two acts show the various experiments that the team undertake to communicate with the extraterrestrial beings and this is a fascinating watch. There is something almost procedural to these proceedings, and this sucks the viewer right in, making one feel the joys and the disappointments that the team goes through while doing what they do.The tone of the film is consistently serious which works in favour of the film.

    The VFX is excellent and used minimalistically, which makes the film look realistic. The creature design is also very well done. The cinematography is one of the strengths of this film with majestic, beautifully framed shots throughout the film.

What’s not?

As the film relies heavily on dialogue to convey the bulk of the story, it can sometimes feel exhausting as the pace slows down considerably in the middle portions. Also, by the third act, the film shifts its focus on to the human drama surrounding the arrival of the spaceships, and the reason for the arrival  is added as a simplistic afterthought. One wishes for slightly more backstory about the aliens! Also, the big reveal of the film is not as convincing as it should have been. However, these are minor irritants in an otherwise good film.


This film is completely driven by Amy Adams performance. In the role of a linguist, she adds a lot of layer to a troubled character that could easily have become a caricature. She is in almost every frame of the film and shoulders the film competently. Jeremy Renner plays the second fiddle adequately. The rest of the cast are all saddled with one note characters and do not have much to do in the film except for looking worried about proceedings.

Final Word

A fine addition to the sci-fi genre, Arrival is a highly recommended one time watch.


3.5 / 5 stars

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