The concept of aliens arriving on Planet Earth is one that has been done time and time again in Hollywood.
A lot of them are usually shot from an action perspective, where the aliens come to invade us and we have to defend our planet.
The genre was moved on slightly in my opinion when the fantastic District 9 came out. It politicised alien movies and, as strange as this sounds, it put across a more realistic picture of what may happen should other beings come to our world. Of course, there was the enormous shoot-out at the end, but District 9 is a movie that really makes you think, and that realism makes the film somehow scarier.
Arrival takes the idea of how we would realistically react to aliens invading us one step even further.
A really smart part of the film is something that passes most other films like this by – how do you communicate with the aliens?
It is normally assumed that aliens can somehow understand English, or if they can’t, characters can somehow find a way to talk to the otherworldly beings and decipher the meaning of sounds into something we can understand.
The aliens in Arrival do not even seem to possess the concept of words, let alone English, so by taking that step, the film becomes all the more chilling by the problem posed to the scientists: How on earth do we communicate with these aliens and what do they want?
Seeing them battle through this challenge makes for a really absorbing watch, and the film is about as different a cinema experience as I’ve ever enjoyed.
There are some real moments that tug on the heart-strings as well, and Amy Adams is absolutely superb as the lead in the film, playing the linguist that has the unenviable task of trying to understand what the aliens want.
Yes, it may be slightly slower paced than a lot of films, but too many films these days are about the senseless blowing up of things, and favour action over the actual development of some form of basic plot.
This is a film that will really make you think, even days after you have seen it, and it is probably the best one that has come out this year.