REVIEW: 'Arrival' is an educated and affecting science-fiction epic

PUBLISHED: 23:51 15 November 2016 | UPDATED: 23:51 15 November 2016

Amy Adams in 'Arrival'

Amy Adams in 'Arrival'

Archant

Amy Adams shines as a quiet and vulnerable linguistics professor who's sent to greet aliens when the 'Arrival' of gigantic spaceships - in 12 separate locations, including Devon in the UK - leaves nations teetering on the verge of global war.

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is sent in to save the world, essentially; via her knowledge of languages and translation, rather than through superhuman strength often conveyed in other alien-combatting films.

Knowledge and education over force is director Denis Villeneuve’s message, with logical explanations interspersed throughout the captivating two-hour epic.

Slow motion and panoramic shots are used effectively to covey the scale of the otherworldly landing; whilst scientists via video link struggle to understand what they’re dealing with.

But this is no ‘Prometheus’: rather than big explosions and multiple deaths, the uplifting plot focuses on making contact and understanding the planet’s unexpected guests.

“So what do they look like,” asks one scientist inquisitively; there’s less of a sense of fear than most sci-fi, alien-based movies.

When the daring team of investigators - led by Banks (Amy Adams) - step foot in one of the gravity-less egg-shaped domes, noise and voice commands are used sparsely, creating a cinematic effect similar to ‘Gravity’.

The minimalist background music is eerie and jarring, whilst the continual heavy breathing adds unnerving tension as the arrival edges closer.

Banks’ first attempt to talk to the extraterrestrial species - by writing ‘HUMANS’ on a whiteboard - is fruitless and laughable; but as she persists with the word, progress is quickly made and she finds herself in eventual conversation with them.

This is all whilst her flirty, wise-cracking military scientist sidekick/partner Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) throws out genuinely funny one-liners.

Genuinely affecting and emotive, ‘Arrival’ offers a refreshing take on the term science-fiction.

‘Arrival’ is at The Light Cinema, Wisbech now. For full screening times visit www.wisbech.lightcinemas.co.uk/arrival

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