ARRIVAL – 2016 (Full Review)

ARRIVAL - 2016

First Things First…

Arrival: With a modest budget of $47,000,000 (estimated), it would stand to reason that from a pick up book based on the 1998 short story “Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, the entire definition of the work was of elemental creatures; Octopuses, whales, elephants, and spiders that were all sources of inspiration when it came to creating the aliens. This was done, as we believe, very convincingly, as well as cleverly, too.

From the start – showing Amy Adams as Louise Banks – vividly remembering her daughter through an array of different instances, it was the slow, purpose delay in visually showing on camera what the alien crafts looked like, that drew us in. This was done by the tense atmosphere that included the college class’s interrupts, the switching from lecture to watching the News and eventual sounding of alarms that dispersed the students. All of these things for a movie start were spot on, not to mention thought provoking.

The feel, if not familiar of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” came to surface, though it wasn’t long before this was surpassed by the growing atmosphere brought on by Colonel Weber’s (Forest Whitakers) presence, and duly noting the “Intent” of his approach to Louise; the sense and features of him being ‘Government’ clearly rooting in the conversation of Linguistics of some form being the Tutor’s speciality.

As the film builds, along with the atmosphere – by now we have seen and heard the aliens – the whole entwining of characters face us head on; Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) being the co-star of Louise’s assignment to discover what it is exactly the Aliens want – and if or not they’re agenda is of hostile intent toward Earth.

The wandering of the main story comes from a technique that includes ‘Flashbacks’; Louise’s daughter, Hannah, bringing to the forefront a confusion of inclusion. Of course, the setting of the spacecraft investigation brings both inclination and conclusion to ‘Why’, as the dramatic scenes of spectacular alien bodies cause awe and speculation, both! Maybe.

A very good picture is painted in the background as far as “Global Superpowers” are concerned; the “Shoot first, ask questions later” scenario’s which we (non-military) are well versed in concluding – we’ve all seen “Independence Day”, right? But, alas, this is something that Louise and Ian do not want. Ian trusts in Louise’s judgement, his character makes you believe that he sees some reason in her behaviour and feed of information – so why doubt her ability?

Finally, we are witnessed to the fundamental “Human Restraint”, that decisive moment when thought and reason becomes so intense that even we, as viewers, see a shift occur and has us deliberate the obvious, even as obscure as it is to the logic of others.

The Review

Arrival, is what we refer to as a ‘Huge Production’ of science fiction artistry; it contains the essence of taught suspense, coupled with elements that include alien visitors and space craft that have entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The cast of characters are strengthened by their abilities to get the message – those of the Writers – across to the audience, as well as delivered in wayward ending that leaves no room for guessing.

Filled with the obvious, it also gives us the viewer ample opportunity to follow and interact – to a degree – with the story-line. The alien vessels, the aliens themselves, and the raw but controlled atmosphere make the entire feature pleasantly enjoyable. As with the PG-13 classification, also, though some scenes become (in our humble opinion) awkwardly placed; as not everyone is technically minded, the descriptive complexities are not defined for those younger than 13.

Altogether, we see “Arrival” being in the same league as “Contact (1997)” and again, with “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Most definitely worth the watch for those who like their science fictions well-balanced and well structured, while for those more into their descriptive, thorough and thought provoking, then this is the one. It has no chaotic fighting sequences for which made “Independence Day” or “Skyline”, but, it does incur a similarity that for us brought remnants of “Doctor Who’s Children Of Earth”, while the tentacle talons of “Arrival” distantly remind us of “Independence Day”.

DVD Archive Rating: 8.9/10.00

Reviewed By Marcus K. De Storm


Additional Information:


Official Sites: Official Facebook [France] | Official Facebook Page

Country: USA

Language: English | Russian | Mandarin

Release Date: 11 November 2016 (USA)

Also Known As: Story of Your Life

Filming Locations: Montréal, Québec, Canada


Box Office

Budget: $47,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $24,000,000 (USA) (11 November 2016)

Gross: $94,128,318 (USA) (6 January 2017)


Company Credits

Production Co: 21 Laps Entertainment, FilmNation Entertainment, Lava Bear Films


Technical Specs

Runtime: 116 min

Sound Mix: Dolby Digital

Color: Color

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1


Film Trivia: Did You Know?

Director Denis Villeneuve and screenwriter Eric Heisserer created a fully functioning, visual, alien language. Heisserer, Vermette and their teams managed to create a “logogram bible,” which included over a hundred different completely operative logo-grams, seventy-one of which are actually featured in the movie.

Ted Chiang, who wrote the novella the film is based upon, approved the film, saying, “I think it’s that rarest of the rare in that it’s both a good movie and a good adaptation… And when you consider the track record of adaptations of written science fiction, that’s almost literally a miracle.”

Director Denis Villeneuve and the writing team took extensive efforts to ensure the movie’s scientific ideology was accurate. Renowned scientist and tech innovator Stephen Wolfram and his son Christopher Wolfram were consulted to ensure all terminology, graphics and depictions were sound.

The inky circular alien language was created by Montreal artist Martine Bertrand. It is also the artist’s son who created Hannah’s drawings.

“Dirty Sci-fi” is what director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Bradford Young called the look they created together for Arrival (2016). Villeneuve wanted it to feel like “This was happening on a bad Tuesday morning, like when you were a kid on the school bus on a rainy day and you’d dream while looking out the window at the clouds.”

The original name for the film was “Story of Your Life.” However, test audiences did not like the title, and therefore, it was changed to “Arrival.”

Octopuses, whales, elephants, and spiders were all sources of inspiration when it came to creating the aliens, Abbott and Costello. Director Denis Villeneuve wanted their design to evoke a very strong presence, an air of intelligence, and the feeling of being close to a “huge beast underwater.” He also wanted the aliens to feel like something you might imagine in a surreal dream or nightmare and, in the later stages of the film, he wanted them to be suggestive of the Grim Reaper.

The Hungarian word that Halpern refers to is “szalámitaktika”. (In English, this translates to “salami tactics”.) The word refers to divide the opposition, to only have to face smaller, weaker enemies.

The film’s composer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, stated he started recording the score before the movie had even started filming, and he and the director like to work on the music as the director’s films are being made.

The heptapod’s craft owes its design to an asteroid called 15 Eunomia. During research, director Denis Villeneuve became attracted to Eunomia’s “insane shape like a strange egg” and thought that kind of pebble or oval shape would bring a perfect sense of menace and mystery to the spacecraft.

While the shape of the ship was decided early on, the director had great difficulty imagining an interior that would allow humans to easily navigate through such a steep and vertical design. The later decision to turn gravity sideways offered an obvious and convenient solution.

Louise tells Colonel Weber that the name kangaroo comes from a misunderstanding and originally meant “I don’t know,” only to tell Ian that the story is made up. This is an actual myth, not just a made up story that involves Lieutenant James Cook, Sir Joseph Banks, and the Guugo Yimithirr language. The myth was debunked in the 1970s by linguist John B. Haviland. In reality, the word kangaroo comes from the Aboriginal word gangurru, the word for specifically grey kangaroos, with Banks spelling it “kanguru” in his diary.

In the whiteboard shot where Louise writes the big question, immediately above the question is the standard formula for entropy – the arrow of time.

This movie is based upon the short story “Story of Your Life” written by Ted Chiang in 1998.

This is the third collaboration between composer Jóhann Jóhannsson and director Denis Villeneuve. Previously, they worked together on Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2015). Their fourth collaboration is Blade Runner 2049 (2017).

Scandinavian photographer Martina Hoogland Ivanow was a major influence on cinematographer Bradford Young’s look of this film, especially with her exhibition and book “Speedway.”

In the novella, “Stories of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, nine “looking glasses” arrive in America, a total of 112 worldwide. The film reduces that number and alters the dimensions to more profound effect.

The shots inside the university (in class and when she walks through a cafeteria) have been filmed at HEC Montréal University, at the Descelles building.

As soon as director Denis Villeneuve finished this film, he began work on Blade Runner 2049 (2017).

When Ian suggests the names for the heptapods, he is referencing Abbott and Costello’s comedy bit “Who’s on first”. As the bit starts, Abbott states “Who’s on first, What’s on second, and I don’t know is on third.” several times. Costello doesn’t understand and his questions of which player is on which base are taken as true or false statements needing affirmation or correction. For example “Who’s on second base?” – “No, Who’s on first.” – “I’m not asking what’s the guy on first.” – “What’s on second.” – “I don’t know the guy’s name on second.” – “No, he’s on third base.” – “Who’s on third?” – “No, Who’s on first.” – “Who’s on first?” – “Yes” and so forth. Both Abbott and Costello’s bit and Arrival show the ease of misunderstanding while communicating.

When Denis Villeneuve finally agreed to direct the movie he said to the film’s screenwriter, Eric Heisserer, “Alright Eric, now we are married”.

Filming began in mid-June 2015, right after Jeremy Renner completed the shooting of Captain America: Civil War (2016).

Amy Adams revealed in an interview with The New York Times that she did not know Mandarin prior to filming the movie.

Principal photography on the film began on June 7, 2015 in Montréal, Québec, Canada.

This is director Denis Villeneuves first PG-13 feature film.

The helmets worn are respiratory protection units manufactured by Sundstrom, which are widely used in industry.

Three of the locations that the alien spaceships land on Earth include the U.S. state of Montana, the United Kingdom, and Russia. These are some of the locations that the alien Tripods landed in John Christopher’s 1988 novel “When the Tripods Came,” which is the prequel to his “Tripods” novel trilogy.

The two main aliens in this movie are called “Abbott” and “Costello”, the exactly same names as the “aliens” from the episode “hounds of Baskerville” from the BBC show, “Sherlock” (2010).

This movie reunites American Hustle (2013) co-stars Jeremy Renner and Amy Adams.

The siren emitted throughout the movie signalling the scientists’ preparation to approach the ship is identical to the siren used in The Purge (2013) and its sequels.

Nic Mathieu was previously attached to direct.

Amy Adams middle name is Lou, which stands for Louis or Louise. She played Lois in “Man of Steel” and “Batman V Superman”, and Louise in “Arrival”.

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner have both appeared in comic book films dealing with alien invasions. Adams starred in Man of Steel (2013) (about Earth being invaded by evil Kryptonians). Renner starred in The Avengers (2012) (about Earth being invaded by the aliens known as Chitauri).

In the underlying short story, the physicist is named Gary Donelly, contrary to Ian Donnelly in the movie. The name change (together with Louise Banks’ name) could be a nod & laudation to the British science-fiction author Iain Banks.


Additional Information from IMDB.


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