BySam Cooper, writer at
Spastic writer and a lover of all things with the word "espresso" in the title.
Sam Cooper

They say the worst things come dressed in surprise. They also say the best things have the same sense of fashion. Unexpected moments are how the movie world stays in business, and while everyone has been occupied with the mystical , the science fiction film has managed to sneak its way past everyone's radar. Previously, Arrival only showed up when one of its posters misplaced an important landmark. It's a shame, because Arrival is gaining momentum to be the best science fiction film we'll see all year.

Arrival releases on November 11. Even though only a few people have seen the film — it sits at a 100 percent rating from 51 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — the trailers and the list of crew members give big hints on how the movie will play. Yes, the marketing is (admittedly) cheesy, but there are elements of Arrival that promise something much bigger than an average science fiction disaster flick.

A New Angle

Arrival is based on a novella by Ted Chiang called The Story of Your Life, and it looks like the flow of words never stopped in the adaption process. The movie has its fair share of language. The trailers tell the story of an Earth troubled by the mysterious appearances of egg-like spaceships. A professor of linguistics (played by ), is called in to help translate the messages sent by these otherworldly beings, and the plot revolves around the communication between both aliens and the other forces on earth. Arrival carries itself with the tone of a close, interpersonal story, similar to in terms of emotional scale. This unique angle breaks the mold and guarantees, if nothing else, a conceptually and emotionally engaging ride on November 11th.

Communicating with aliens is rough. Spelling your own name is pretty rough, too.
Communicating with aliens is rough. Spelling your own name is pretty rough, too.

Global Terror

Not only does Arrival promise a theme of linguistics blown to epic proportions, but the trailers dropped a few hints at something bigger: politics. Hold up, don't groan. Don't pick up your voter registration card, sigh, and shake your head as you look pointedly into the cameras of life. Arrival builds a story world with a tense undertone of international politics — or, perhaps, its an overtone. Either way, the movie has given us every reason to believe that it mixes the emotional world of character stories with a worldwide palette of tension.

What other successful films incorporated both of these themes? series, of course. It scored massive box office numbers and an impressive critical response thanks to the depth of its story world and the undercurrent of war politics. That's one more check mark on the ballot of success for Arrival.

The egg ships are everywhere.
The egg ships are everywhere.

History On Repeat

If Arrival were a puzzle, it would be timed, and the piece that completes the picture would be the one you inevitably can't find. You'd descend into panic as you searched the ground for that missing link, the clock taunting you with thinning numbers. If Arrival were a puzzle, the last piece would be panic itself. Director Denis Villeneuve is the mastermind behind the nerve-shredding Sicario and 2013's surprise thriller, Prisoners. Both films are drenched in action and grip the audience with frightening, unexpected strength.

Villeneuve knows how to work the pacing and production of his films just right, meaning Arrival has a high chance of being more than a interpersonal story with a perspective on global events. His track record shows Arrival could be the best white-knuckle science fiction experience to drop this year. After all, history has a wonderful habit of repeating and remixing itself.

Amy Adams reaches for the mist. What will she find?
Amy Adams reaches for the mist. What will she find?

Exhibit A(rt)

Art production isn't a factor many moviegoers consciously notice, but it's just as powerful as any other element of a movie. Cinematographer Bradford Young shot Arrival. His most recognizable films are Selma and A Most Violent Year, both of which are photographed beautifully. The trailer for Arrival showcases a dark, muted color scheme like . And to fit with the cinematography, Arrival was fitted with the talents of composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Excellent and a score guaranteed to be transcendent are just more factors coming together to make Arrival a force to be reckoned with.

The colors of 'Arrival' blend perfectly.
The colors of 'Arrival' blend perfectly.

Arrival hasn't carried itself with the best marketing campaign. With the first trailers released only three months before November 11, a Photoshop fail marring a poster, and considerably low word-of-mouth thanks to the massive shadow of Doctor Strange, Arrival hasn't been on many minds. But that will change. Everything we know about the film — from the unique linguistics angle of the story to the crew of talented artists, peels back the curtains on a science fiction masterpiece. Why is Arrival here? Because it deserves to be, and I can't wait for it.


Will you help Amy Adams translate an alien language on November 11th?

Sources: CNN, IMDb


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