Film Review – Science-Fiction

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Cor. What a title. 

The ability to build worlds within film has advanced an incredible amount, especially since the days of James Cameron’s Avatar. Luc Besson has had his hand in the Valerian pie for a long time, and recently thought that the technology was there for him to create Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Besson worked to adapt the French comic book series for the screen, but the title sticks out like a sore thumb considering the comic series is called Valerian and Laureline. I had a certain sense of apprehension for this as the last Besson film I had the ‘pleasure’ of watching was Lucy, and I absolutely loathed that film. But the trailer managed to lure me in with the visuals and the science-fiction element to the film.

Valerian (yeah, I’m just going to call it that from now on) hooked me from the opening sequence as the space station expands and welcomes other nations on-board. As it expands, alien life begins to join and the station grows exponentially into Alpha. As it reaches critical mass, it is pushed out of Earth’s orbit to travel by itself.

Besson apparently sat on this film for some time, and it’s clear to see why as world building that is undertook in Valerian is exceptional, from the market to the whistle-stop tour of the Alpha station is incredibly vibrant. Unfortunately for Besson and Valerian the enjoyment for the film slowly begins to fade when you look past the pretty visuals in the opening thirty or so minutes.

Generally speaking the scripting was just downright awful. And especially cringe worthy when agent Valerian (Dane DeHaan) was trying to woo? his partner agent Laureline (Cara Delevingne) by saying the most inane things. Some of the lines had me shaking my head in disbelief that they had made the final cut. Dane and Cara themselves were good in the role, but Cara’s character does fall into the standard damsel in distress character although Laureline as a character seems to be better than that.

But I don’t think the scripting was helped by the narrative, as it seemed to be jumping all over the place as Besson tried to mash together the love story between Valerian and Laureline and this mysterious element that they have found themselves pulled into. Often it felt as though it wasn’t sure which direction the film wanted to be pulled in.

The film does stand at over two hours, but unfortunately does feel like it’s over three hours as it slogs its way between the narrative, scripting and the indulgent visuals. I don’t think this could have been helped as Besson took the time to dress the screen in the incredible visuals, which were incredible to watch unfold on the screen.

I did enjoy the pairing of Dane DaHaan and Cara Delevingne as they bounce off each other, and do seem to have an interesting chemistry on-screen. Cara was the better off the two regardless of her damsel in distress characterisation, and Dane plays the cocky, arrogant character to perfection, regardless of the script-vomit that tumbles out of his mouth.

It has to be said though, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets only has one true winner, and that lies in the visuals. Besson builds incredible worlds, from the inter-dimensional market to the Thousand City Planet of Alpha and it’s incredulous atmosphere. I mean water, a fully submerged water section on a space station. Really?

However, between the scripting and the narrative being all over the place it’s not something that makes me want to rush back to see it all over again. Aside from the dazzling visuals and Cara’s performance as Agent Laureline, there is little to enjoy about this film. Even the score pulled me out of the film, by sounding reminiscent of Star Wars. As I try to recount the film, I have come to realise that it is less-than-memorable, with only a few glimpses sticking out, including the marketplace sequence being one of better in the film.

If you find yourself going to see it, see it on the biggest screen possible, but other than that, I wouldn’t rush out to see it, which is a shame as I wanted to like Valerian more.

Alien: Covenant (2017)

Ridley Scott returned to his famous franchise with Prometheus back in 2012. If you were anything like myself, you could not wait for the next instalment in the Alien franchise. So fast-forward five years and Scott has followed up the whirlwind piece of Prometheus with Alien: Covenant.

Now while it’s not important to have seen the original Alien films, it’s pretty important to have seen Prometheus as the events of Alien: Covenant takes place ten years after Prometheus and both prominently features the character of David. (Michael Fassbender)

This caught me off-guard a little bit, because after the events of Prometheus, I was confused as to how Fassbender’s David managed to make it safely onto the Covenant ship, practically unscathed. This comes down to the testament of Fassbender’s android performance in Prometheus and the feeling that David is all-too real. However on the covenant ship he takes on the role of Walter, a new and improved android.

Walter assumes a practically identical role to David, caring for the ship whilst the crew are in cryosleep, as the crew head to a planet that is perfect for terraforming whilst Walter tends to the colonists and embryos ready to start a new world. The ship is struck by a neutrino blast that causes the now-awoken crew to question Walter’s commanding of the ship and by chance, due to this blast, they stumble on a seemingly perfect planet to begin their new life.

I thought the music was perfect for Alien: Covenant, and was really extenuated by the mysterious and tense setting of the mysterious planet they land on. From the wide-open spaces that Ridley Scott is incredibly good at, to the small-enclosed spaces of the Covenant ship, the film was made even tenser with that claustrophobic feeling.

(And that use of Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla was gorgeous)

With Prometheus being the origin story for the Xenomorphs that plagued Ripley and co throughout Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant is continuing that trend and peeling away more of those layers. But Ridley Scott continued to tie in attitudes to religion and strongly  conveys the messages of creation and meeting your maker throughout Alien: Covenant.

The themes throughout the 120 minutes really worked and were not piled too heavily onto the story. Otherwise there may have been an overconsumption of this, which would have led to it ruining the story. I thought the narrative structure was brilliant, especially as it builds up around the newly found David and his story of the Prometheus ship and crew.

The great thing about Alien was the terrifying xenomorph that plagued the crew and that there wasn’t much gore used throughout, rather it relied on the closed space and tense battle between it and Ripley. Alien: Covenant has decided to use an abundance of gore through the xenomorph attacks, which is fine, but I feel as though it sometimes it overused and lets the film down in areas.

The casting was electric for the lead roles of Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterson and Danny McBride but I felt everyone else was kind of subpar and throwaway characters. McBride’s Tennessee was an interesting character and worlds away from the comedic background that he has become known for. Waterson seemed to be channeling the headstrong Ripley in this film, but not before showing emotion in the opening scenes that seemed to be devoid of Ripley in Alien.

(That was also different, as the crew were made up of couples in charge of safely navigating to Origae-6)

Fassbender was electric as he channelled two different characters, the companionist Walter and the vengeful and conniving David. The difference between the characters was excellent and was really effective for the different moods they were conveying and I feel as though that is testament to Ridley’s direction through the film.

I was really impressed, and feel as though Ridley Scott’s prequels are currently going strength to strength. I thought the narrative structure on the film was apt, considering what was revealed in the first instalment and was perfectly played out on the screen with the help of David. However, the clear winner is the world building that Ridley Scott is just renown for, from the mysterious planet expanse, to the closed-off spaces that add to the tense scenes within the film.

The planet that the Covenant crew descend on it, is just incredible. Although the film does falter in certain sections, those feelings are soon washed away with the incredibly scenery and intriguing characters throughout Alien: Covenant.

Just like Prometheus, I want to see the next instalment. Now.

Ghost In The Shell (2017)

I had a strange sense of apprehension when heading into the viewing of Ghost In The Shell, but not because of the controversy that surrounded the casting of Scarlett Johansson, but probably because of my sheer enjoyment from the trailers.

This futuristic world that was shown was wonderfully fascinating, seeing behemoths of advertising, but also the glow of the colours that emanated from the screen. Scarlett Johansson’s casting was met with an abundance of controversy as she was cast in what was previously a predominately Asian role, but these voices grew quieter as the release crept closer.

This colourful glow in the trailers, was immediately evident in the opening scenes as vibrantly red Hanka Robotics staff carry Scarlett Johansson to an operating room to remove the brain, as her body slowly dies. Her brain is implanted in a skeleton composed solely of cybernetics, and then taken through the final stages of completing then ‘Shell’. This also marked a huge step forward in robotic technology for Hanka.

This body becomes first to have a conscious human mind controlling it, but she is immediately placed into an Anti-terrorist unit with the Department of Defence. I had no prior knowledge about Ghost In The Shell aside from it’s original work being a popular manga series, and had an Anime feature back in 1995. But, with the nature of this story, the question of ‘has technology gone too far?’, was always going to be at the forefront, especially as the line between human and robotics becomes increasingly blurred in this future world.

But instead of solely relying on the story to win over the audiences, Rupert Sanders bathes Ghost In The Shell in beautiful colours of this crafted futuristic world as Major (Scarlett Johansson) dives from atop a building and dramatically crashes through a window to save civilians in a beautifully shot sequence, mixed gorgeously with appropriate slow-motion.

Sanders does show a deft touch in immersing you into this world, which is also helped by electro-synth soundtrack that really adds to this futuristic feeling landscape. What really does help, and gets the audience involved is the direction of the characters and Sanders displays an excellent awareness of the screen presence for each of the characters involved.

Major’s right hand man, Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and the antagonist Kuze (Michael Pitt) all deliver solid performances giving Ghost In The Shell that extra intensity that it required, but significantly backed up by the ever-brilliant Takeshi Kitano as the not-usual emotionless entity but seemingly exhausted Aramaki.

As I mentioned, as the line of human and robotics becomes increasingly blurred, Hanka Robotics are threatened by the cyber-terrorist Kuze, which sends the film into some incredibly dark scenes, typified by Major’s ‘deep dive’ into the already terrifying Geisha-bot. But cleverly, Sanders chose not to go all in on the good vs evil story, as he touches on the identity battle Major faces as she experiences these ‘Glitches’, which becomes the more interesting storyline. 

And this story comes to a boiling point when Major comes face to face with Kuze. The story becomes this intoxicating battle of what is good and what is evil and couples it with touches of whether these cybernetic enhancements are good or bad. But this may sound overwhelming, but it really isn’t. Jamie Moss, William Wheeler and Ehren Kruger managed to feed enough of the story throughout the first hour or so, to keep it interesting and intriguing to carry it over the remaining forty.

That’s not to say that the film is foreseeable, as the story can be construed as weak in areas, but it’s the way in which the story is told makes it compelling. This coupled with the futuristic world and the collaborative effort of the cast made the aforementioned apprehension wash away instantly.

Considering Rupert Sanders previous film was Snow White and the Huntsman (which was quietly enjoyable), it has really escalating his presence as Ghost In The Shell was incredibly enjoyable to watch and had the perfect mix of storyline, action and the beautifully crafted CGI-scenes. The action was exciting when it needed to be, especially as Batou has an extravagant scene in the nightclub. For my money, Sanders managed to create a great mainstream adaptation of the original, which I will have to watch to see how it compares, but it has done nothing but excite me more for that viewing.

Midnight Special (2016)

Midnight Special was one of my highly anticipated films of last year, but unfortunately did not manage to get to see it in the cinema, but eventually it made an appearance on a streaming site that I was able to access. Jeff Nichols’ fourth feature length film looked to be quite the science fiction thriller piece, so I was excited to finally watch it.

Majority of the promotional footage and trailers featured the image of a young boy that seemed to radiate a blinding blue light from his eyes. In Midnight Special, our first meeting with the young boy, he is wearing goggles and noise-cancelling ear mitts whilst reading a comic book. During this introduction with Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher), we see Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton watching the news, regarding the kidnapping of Alton and the case being placed on amber alert.

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Already Nichols has managed to tell the opening segments to the story with enough vigour to grip me, but also with the help of an intense car journey down the back lanes of the southern states of North America. Without relaying too much information, the film quickly changes the pace with an FBI-raid on a ranch, which houses a cult.

What becomes clear is that Roy Tomlin, (Michael Shannon) the man responsible for the kidnapping of Alton, is actually the boy’s father. But also that Alton has a special ability to intercept secret encoded satellite messages. This obviously is quite the concern for the FBI and the American government, so they want Alton located, as much as the cult to bring him back ‘home’.

Jeff Nichols’ manages to keep up the fast pace as Roy and Lucas (Joel Edgerton) continually avoid the police, but also the cult members that were sent by cult to find Alton. But the trouble is during this rip-roaring pace; the question remains as to why this is all happening?

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What begins as a rip roaring pace and filling the opening segment with mysterious characters, Midnight Special begins to lack in a strong storyline as it enters the latter half of the film. In instances, a strong storyline is sometimes superseded by the strong characters and with a strong cast containing Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver, one would suspect Midnight Special is one of those instances.

It isn’t.

The plaudits of acting would rest on Jaeden Lieberher’s shoulders, as Alton seemingly becomes weaker and the film bores into it’s second hour, and Lieberher’s performance is convincing amongst the others, well, less than convincing performances.

For me, Kirsten Dunst’s maternal character was pretty much pointless in the story and did not add any width to the story. She didn’t have the intrigue that Roy and Lucas did during their introduction, but even their mysteriousness eventually slipped away. Adam Driver’s NSA analyst was an excellent inclusion as he accepts the mystery that is Alton, but Jeff Nichols’ did not manage to effectively incorporate this into the story enough, he focused on the mad chase that surrounded Alton and the mysterious coordinates that Sevier (Driver) works out.

As I previously mentioned, Nichols created what was seemingly a science-fiction thriller and there were certain aspects within the film that was enjoyable, including the pace to the opening of the film, and some wonderful shots of the sun setting and rising. Unfortunately for me, the enjoyable sections of Midnight Special were too few and far between when the film lost its way with the story, but also the less-than-convincing cast performances.

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Midnight Special could have become a cult classic, but the story seems to have taken a cop-out route and it just doesn’t seem to make much sense, for me anyway. The cast had me filled with promise, considering the ability of them but again, I felt let down by Shannon & co aside from Leiberher’s performance. Alas, the opening hour was good and thrilling, culminating in a meteor shower that looked majestic, but from there the film slowly begins to drop off and seemingly loses itself in free fall. As much as I enjoyed the opening hour, I could not shake the closing hour practically ruining the film for me. Unfortunately Midnight Special was a bit of dud.

Morgan (2016)

After working on some of his father’s projects like The Martian and Exodus: Gods and Kings, Luke Scott has attempted to make his own mark on the filmmaking world with Morgan. In the run up to the films release, Morgan made some noise but then slipped and fell by the wayside.

Morgan had themes of a Sci-Fi Thriller throughout the marketing and it’s clear why, as the subject matter involves the creation of a genetic being. However, Luke Scott chose not to open with the beings creation, but rather an event referred to as ‘The Incident’. During ‘The Incident’ the genetic being, Morgan, stabs one of the doctors that is caring for it in the eye.

After this opening scene, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) arrives at the complex under instruction from Corporate to assess the situation, and decide whether it is a viable option to terminate Morgan. Kate Mara delivers an incredible performance as Lee Weathers in Morgan as the emotionless and quite frankly stern risk assessor from Corporate. Although she has this hard exterior, there is more than meets the eyes with Lee Weathers.


This cold, less-than-impressed persona exhibited by Mara effectively builds tension as she meets with everyone that cares for Morgan. What is interesting is Luke Scott builds a certain family feel in the build up to meeting Morgan as everyone speaks for how amazing and excellent she is, even Dr. Grieff. (who got stabbed in the eye by the child)

As Weathers meets the doctors in the compound played by the likes of Toby Jones, Rose Leslie and Michael Yare, she builds tension with everyone she interacts with as they tiptoe around ‘The Incident’. They continually refer to Morgan as ‘she’ and ‘her’ and Weathers coldly and abruptly states that Morgan is an ‘It’.

However, this all changes when the film effectively ups the ante with Paul Giamatti’s analytical character interviewing Morgan for the psych-evaluation. The tension that Giamatti’s Dr Alan Shapiro creates is just beautiful as he badgers the sweet, innocent-looking Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy).


Luke Scott seems to have mastered the mix between having the right amount of tension for the right period of screen time for the characters involved. As he effectively builds this tension, he displays a masterful eye in the sense of giving just enough time in a scene for whomever.

Scott effectively manages to capture the family feel from Amy Menser (Rose Leslie) and her colleagues toward Morgan and their care for her. This counteracts the cold, callous nature of Lee Weathers and her subtle movements including the touching of Dr. Grieff’s (Jennifer Jason Leigh) hand, which seemed unnatural for everyone involved.


He has also managed to create what is an intriguing plot throughout Morgan. Although there could’ve been more focus on different segments in the story, it was a largely enjoyable story that was bought to life. I have always found films that have artificial life as their subject matter interesting, especially in terms of the purpose of creation. Something that is never really explored in Morgan which I think would’ve have ripened the story more.

What seems to be the focus throughout the film is the caging of Morgan and whether this was the ‘right’ thing to do. As the film picks up its pace, Luke Scott previews the growing up of Morgan with the aide of Amy, which makes for interesting viewing as we see snapshots of Morgan discovering the world. Scott has a talent like his father for creating a beautiful landscape as they both explore the compounds wooded borders. 

That being said, the narrative arc kept the film interesting for it’s runtime of 92 minutes. Although it quickly descended into a slasher-esque flick, the film kept itself interesting through the narrative between Lee Weathers and her discovering of Morgan. As mentioned above, the story could’ve focused on different areas, but it seems as though Scott chose to opt for more action in these areas instead.

As the steely-faced Kate Mara takes control of the situation in the first half of the film, it’s clear that Morgan was certainly carried by it’s cast. Due to the story not progressing until Dr. Shapiro’s meeting with Morgan, it certainly scuffs it feet, making the rather short runtime feel longer. Apart from a few plot issues (that I cannot speak of, due to them being linked with potential spoilers) Morgan was a largely enjoyable film, and a very impressive directorial debut from Luke Scott.

If You Liked This, You May Like: Ex Machina

Whilst Luke Scott’s directorial debut was a fun and enjoyable watch, Alex Garland’s directorial debut was a stunning piece of filmmaking. He also toyed with the idea of artificial intelligence and created some of the tensest scenes in recent memory. Having an incredible cast and brilliant narrative Ex Machina would be a perfect film to be teamed up with Morgan.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

Last year marked the rebirth of the Star Wars anthology with The Force Awakens. Disney announced the releasing of a Star Wars film every year until at least 2020. Rogue One marks the first of these standalone films in the extended Star Wars universe.

The first of these standalone films, Rogue One takes place in the chronology of order some time between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. The story behind Rogue One also concerns the matter of how the rebel alliance got their hands on the Death Star plans in A New Hope.


As JJ Abrams took creative control of the The Force Awakens, Gareth Edwards is at the helm of this Star Wars story, having his own creative take on the franchise. He neglects to use the traditional Star Wars opening in the form of the famous scrolling text. 

As Edwards chooses to disregard the time-honoured Star Wars opening, he chooses to display the narrative via a series of snapshots around different planets and cities to gather speed going into the film. This is of course after the all-important opening stage to set up our hero Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as she watches her mother slain in cold blood and her father taken by the menace that is Ben Mendelsohn’s Orson Krennic.


As Jyn witnesses this, she is saved by Saw Gerrera (Forest Whittaker) and so begins the aforementioned snapshot around the planets fifteen years later. During this snapshot, an Imperial pilot Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed) has defected to deliver a message to Saw from Jyn’s father Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelsen). Jyn has also been captured by the Imperials and is being made to work in a labour camp, until Rebel Alliance members Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and his reprogrammed Imperial robot companion K-2SO (voiced by Alan Tudyk), rescue her from her captors. 

As you’re probably reading this, you’re thinking that is a humungous amount to digest, and you would be correct, as this happens within the opening fifteen to twenty minutes. Unfortunately, this makes the film falter in parts as it feels heavy and begins to drag over the 120+ minute run time, which has become a standard for Star Wars films.

As the film continues, it becomes a quest to discover what message the defected Imperial pilot has from Galen and whether it can help bring down the super weapon the Empire have been building. As they close in on the pilot’s location on Jedha, we can begin to see the familiar gorgeous expanse landscape that can be soaked up by the audience.


Rogue One quickly becomes a quest against time as the super weapon is used on Jedha, making the city erupt into a beautiful oncoming mass of dust and smoke. The message delivered by Rook is only seen by Jyn before the message is engulfed in a blaze of glory. Jyn learns there is a weakness to the new super weapon, which can cause a chain reaction to destroy the newly named Death Star. (Sounds a bit familiar all this, doesn’t it?)

I shall not reveal any more information, through fear I have divulged too much already. As a standalone Star Wars film, Gareth Edwards has created a solid filmmaking piece, which is enjoyable. However, it doesn’t come without some flaws, such as the pacing of the first two acts, which weighs the film down. Act three was the act that kept my eyes glued to the screen and wanting more.

As Edwards had creative control over this project, it must be said he has continued the beautiful expanses that I have really enjoyed in Star Wars films, including the almost-tropical landscape of Scarif, and the also the Tatooine-looking Jedha. The clear cut winner was the casting throughout this film though as Felicity Jones becomes a character you are invested in, which marks the second consecutive Star Wars film with a strong heroine. She is backed up by a strong following of  Luna and Tudyk, but I would’ve enjoyed to see more of Whittaker’s and Mikkelsen’s character as they seem all to brief. 


As the film does stand are plus two hours, it does become laborious in parts, until the third act, which steals the show and of course links perfectly into A New Hope. In my opinion the film could stand to lose around a half hour of runtime and still have been just as good as it flows into the third act. 

It has to be said though that act three of Rogue One included some of the best Star Wars scenes in memory, which was gloriously played out. As a standalone Star Wars film, this is the perfect dosage with the inclusion of certain characters like Moff Tarkin, the Red and Gold Leader fighers and of course the cameo of R2 and C3PO. Edwards has made an admirable effort for Rogue One and I’ll be interested to see what comes with the second standalone film in the Star Wars universe. 


Spoilers are ahead. 

These are not the spoilers you are looking for.

I warned you.

 

There seems to be a darker undertone throughout Rogue One that hasn’t been seen in the franchise before. Gareth Edwards deployed this dark tone perfectly by an abundance of considerable amount of deaths throughout the film, instead of one or two that is the usual choice in Star Wars. Not only this, Edwards had the questioning of intentions throughout the from and regardless of who is following orders how can they constitute what is good and evil if the objective is the killing of someone. This device was cleverly done and played out excellently by Luna and Jones.

Edwards take on this darker undertone made the film interesting with its themes, but the pacing still remains an issue for me. That being said, there is a certain beauty in this film as they discover the vast expanses of the differing planets, which continues to be one of my favourite things about the Star Wars universe.

End of spoilers.

Arrival (2016)

After an unbelievably tense traffic sequence on film, Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario was a big runner in the Oscars last year. And this year he’s back with the highly anticipated science-fiction thriller Arrival. And it’s no surprise with his talent that there are already smatterings of Oscar contention for Villeneuve again.

This time it’s Amy Adams taking the central role as Dr. Louise Banks, a top class linguist enlisted to help decipher a message from these weird pebble-shaped objects hanging in the sky. But already within the five minutes, Villeneuve and Adams have already broken our hearts in scenes that are uncannily similar to the opening sequence in Up.

The way in which the pebble-ships are introduced is interesting, as Dr. Banks is distant to the seemingly important news that has everyone crowded around the television screen and actively disrupting her class on Portuguese. She brushes off their existence until she is asked to help decipher their mysterious message by Colonel Weber (Forest Whittaker) with the help of Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) a theoretical physicist.

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Rather than immediately focusing on the aliens inside the pebble-ship, Villeneuve focuses on the overcoming of the language barrier between the crew and the heptapods (aliens). Villeneuve also cleverly includes the processes of learning language, as Dr. Banks breaks down her plan to Colonel Weber who seems less than convinced with her approach.

When it comes to end of the filmmaking calendar, questions regarding a films Oscar contention begin to enter the fray and these questions about Arrival are 100% justified. Villeneuve is proving again he has the chops, but alas has been left empty-handed thus far. This could very well change with Arrival. It has to be said that Amy Adams is in strong contention with her strong and believable performance as Louise Banks, as the focus never shifts from her character she maintains the narrative superbly.

Although he has previously shown a knack for creating unbelievably tense sequences in Prisoners and Sicario, Villeneuve managed to incorporate some awe-inspiring shots that were simply wonderful to watch unfold on screen, including the below shot of the pebble-like ship in Montana. This only adds to the enjoyment on screen and is replicated when we take a trip around the globe to see the other ships.

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The story is excellently fed through the screen and left me wanting to know more about everything to do with the films backstory from the linguistics, to the heptapods and to the other eleven pebble-ships and their positioning. How close the film is kept to the original material by Ted Chiang, I do not know, but it has left me eager and wanting to know more.

Although a big chunk of this film revolves around these heptapod beings, it doesn’t feel like it’s closely fixated on this subject, as Villeneuve manages to capture the effect this task has on Dr. Banks but also the inability of the World’s top nations coming together at a crucial hour. Amy Adams as Dr. Banks pulls in an excellent performance as she becomes wearier and increasingly unsettled with flashbacks of the opening scenes. It’s a believable performance as she remains headstrong in her approach and drives the film forward as the central figure.

As the twelve ships converse with their countries counterparts, information is withheld between the countries, when it should be shared and with it comes a sense of suspicion driven by the Chinese. The Russians begin to follow suit and take aim at the ships, causing disarray between everyone all over the world.

Arrival is a delight because everything in this story works and leaves us wanting more throughout the elaborate unwinding of the true nature of these ships and why they have arrived. This unravelling also brings forth a rather interesting twist in the narrative that really works and fits superbly. I have often found science-fiction plot twists weak, or laughable, but with Arrival it fitted perfectly tonally and narratively with the story.

Villeneuve has continued his powerful filmmaking exploits with Arrival and is quickly becoming one of the top directors to look out for. Sicario was a phenomenal piece of film, and Arrival could’ve have easily been two hours longer and still been just as enjoyable. As it stands at around an hour and forty minutes, it’s of perfect length and I wouldn’t be surprised come Oscar nominations if Arrival is the hot tip.