Arrival Review

A giant alien spaceship that has landed in Montana in Arrival, Denis Villeneuve’s film adaptation of a story by Ted Chiang

I guess this is less a review and more a ‘lessons learned’. It’s a shame that Arrival became the basis of learning them:

  • Some films should not be watched on a plane.
  • Just because you have time, doesn’t mean you should.
  • You have to be in the right frame of mind; ride the wave of what’s interesting right now.

With three hours to spare on a flight from Iceland, I figured I could tick off a film that I’d been meaning to watch for a while. I didn’t follow any of the above rules, and instead of becoming engrossed in a film that I know touched deeply on subjects close to my heart, all I did was completely hobble the viewing experience and film for myself

I may have now seen my second Denis Villeneuve film, but I definitely didn’t experience it. Not only did I miss the twist as I distracted, but spent half of it quite confused and wondering if I’d missed something.

I know it was thoughtful and powerful. Even in the state I watched the film I could tell you that Adams was brilliant, and more than ably supported by Renner (I’m again reminded how good he is outside of action roles). It’s a very clever and understated film, making some timely comments on how the world really should and could sort itself out. I’m reminded a little of Watchmen and how it could take something extraterrestrial to completely break or fix us.

On a macro level I know Arrival is a great film. The more I think about it the more I’m sure of this. But on a micro level I ruined it for myself. Learn from my mistakes. Hopefully in the future I can return to it and fully appreciate it.

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