When twelve ships of possible extraterrestrial origin park themselves over twelve random earth locations, the nations of the world become united in curiosity and concern. Linguistics expert Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is called upon to head the U.S. team responsible for finding a way to communicate with our visitors. But as tensions rise and world powers start to consider a military response, Louise races desperately to find a way to convince the world what she already knows, that the visitors mean no harm.
Arrival is an interesting and involving science fiction film from director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario) from a script by Eric Heisserer based on Ted Chiang’s short story, Story Of Your Life. It’s refreshing to have a flick that views our first contact with an alien race as exactly that…a first contact, not as yet another alien invasion. The film is suspense-fully directed by Villeneuve who also gives it a bit of a sense of wonder, as we learn along with Louise how to talk to these octopus-like creatures and what their intentions are. He builds the tension very well as the nations of the world grow fearful, based on what could be initial miscommunication and then keeps us riveted as Louise figures things out and now races to keep world powers from starting an intergalactic conflict. The director gets really good performances out of his cast, primarily Adams, Jeremy Renner as a physicist and Forest Whitaker as an army officer in charge of the contact group. Sure things may get a little sappy in the last few minutes, but overall it is an intelligent and entertaining science fiction epic with no lasers and scant few explosions for once.