Arrival (2016)

“Life is a journey, not a destination”, is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, and I see Arrival as an adoption of that phrase. This is arguably the most mysterious and obscure alien thriller, to come out in a long while. As I don’t want to spoil anything, I’m keeping this review short and sweet.

The film’s premise hinges on the idea that language shapes reality. When 12 mysterious alien spaceships touch down around the world, it’s up to the linguistic professor, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and a special team of scientists and investigators, to try and find a way to communicate with them. In a race against time, Louise must learn the aliens’ mind-bending language, as the world is on the verge of a global war.


Arrival is an impressive take on the alien invasion story and a refreshing addition to the science fiction genre. The film gives us a band of eerie alien space crafts, then the story unravels in an unnerving and chest-tightening fashion. There’s almost no action, but instead, we are given a film that completely values the art of storytelling. It’s introspective and philosophical, and the actual invasion is unlike any other portrayed in a science fiction film. There have been so many invasion movies over the decades; Arrival is definitely one of the most original I’ve seen.

Just like much of Denis Villeneuve’s previous work, Arrival is a subdued and tense, interested in the subtleties of human interactions and behaviour. The film spends more time focusing on Louise, and the way she deals with the situation than the aliens themselves. We don’t even see the mysterious extra-terrestrial beings until she witnesses them first, so the whole film is from Louise’s perspective.

I loved Amy Adams’ performance. She’s an unassuming hero that’s well easy to root for. You instantly get behind her character, as she fearlessly tackles the alien’s complicated symbols, trying to break down the barriers between language and thought.



Arrival is a gripping and brilliantly executed story, that keeps you hooked on the strength of its ideas and concepts. I found myself deeply immersed in the story, but I will say that this film isn’t for everyone. It’s a million miles apart from Independence Day, which relies on ‘fist-pumping’ and mindless action. So, if you prefer that sort of thing, then Arrival isn’t for you.

But for me, it’s one of the best films of 2016. The film has much to say about the importance of communication. It’s a dizzying, but dazzling flick that’s open to interpretation. You’ve just got to watch it.

Check out the trailer below!

Quoted: “If you could see your whole life laid out in front of you, would you change things?”

Director: Denis Villeneuve

Writers: Eric Heisserer (Screenplay), Ted Chiang (Based on the story by)

Stars: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker.

Distributor: FilmNation Entertainment (Worldwide)

Run Time: 116 min.

Have you seen Arrival? Let me know your thoughts on this film in the comment section!


13 thoughts on “Arrival (2016)

  1. I was surprised how much I liked this movie. It wasn’t a type of movie that was on “my radar” of movies that was super excited to see, but it truly a great film (and story) to watch. Plus, Adams was great in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “we are given a film that completely values the art of storytelling.” – man, that is really good. I couldn’t agree more with this. It’s what makes Arrival a sophisticated science fiction adventure. I loved every minute of what I saw.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed it, slightly confusing, but all became clear in the end, so would welcome the chance to see it again. Full of tension, clever & not at all what I was expecting from an ‘alien’ film. Great review Liam.


  4. Hi Liam,

    Actually seen one of the films that you have reviewed. Typical reaction from the Americans, anything they are unsure about or don’t understand, go in with all guns blazing and totally waste it!

    Best to try and talk first, just don’t know what awesome weapons they might retalliate with. Easy said than done though. Trying to make sense of splats on blotting paper, comes to mind. When trying to understand the Aliens language. I guess the Aliens thought they were wasting their time
    trying to communicate with a planet populated by numnuts! Decided to take off and seek out a far superior inteligence. Don’t know about “Arrival” Seems the Aliens couldn’t wait to get the hell out of such a planet full of stupid inhabitants. None the less, a great movie, well thought out and kept you wondering what it was all about. A movie that you can’t really put a sequel to. Could call it “Wer’e back, but you still can’t understand our ink splats” Maybe train up a squid or an octopus to squirt ink back at them, might get a conversation going!

    Liked by 1 person

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