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Arrival review: Sci-Fi done right

Not your run-of-the-mill Science Fiction film, this.

Prithviraj Dev | New Delhi |

Film: Arrival
Director: Denis Villenueuve
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg
Can you envision Science Fiction without futuristic weaponry with which you can zap people who are miles away? And does your dose of Sci-Fi demand some epic space battles in which all manners of star fighters weave in and out of dog-fights?
If yes, then Arrival (based on Ted Chiang’s novel Story of Your Life) is definitely the one for you.
Director Denis Villenueve delivers a taut film. While giving subtle hints, the film drops the mic at the climax. He is well versed in creating films that very slowly but surely amp up the tension for the viewer and crucially and letting go in calculated stages. After his unhurried but superb Sicario (2015), Arrival was eagerly anticipated, not least because of its stellar cast.
Star actor Amy Adams raises the bar with her portrayal of gifted linguist Dr Louise Banks who is roped in by the military to try and communicate with strange visitors all over the planet. Her trepidations about the first contact feel real. As she quickly works to unravel their mystery, her rapid progress somehow feels believable. In a rare occurrence, the extraterrestrials aren’t shown as all-conquering, aggressive beings, rather good samaritans who stop just about short of being preachy. The impressive background score is another big plus, sucking you in and making one feel as if they are truly in the midst of all the action.
Banks has the gruff Colonel Weber (Whitaker) and brilliant physicist Ian Donnelley (Renner) for company. But this is a one-woman show from the get-go. And that is perhaps the only notable flaw in an otherwise outstanding film as the two feel criminally under-utilised.
The final act is truly jaw-dropping, and that is when Arrival truly arrives (pun unintended), which will prompt you to consider going back to the theatre.
Not quite complex as Interstellar, Arrival’s brilliant plot is deceptively simple. And once it dawns on you, the sheer intelligibility will prompt nothing but adulation for Villenueve and his entire team.