“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?” This is the question that has been stuck in my head since I left the Manhattan movie theater.
When I saw the trailer for Arrival, I automatically assumed that the movie would be like all the science fiction movies it has followed. I figured it was the classic case of, “Movie doesn’t live up to the hype built up by the trailer.” I could not have been more wrong. Although Arrival has a few minor predictable or cheesy lines, it does not prevent the movie from being a creative new take on the alien movie industry. With a well-thought out plot, a fresh take on alien-themed movies and the confusion the audience is put through, it makes this movie a must see.
Arrival manages to make a great movie by avoiding the obvious plot and keeping the viewer in the dark until the last moment. For example, in the beginning of the movie, Louise, a linguistics professor, has flashbacks to times with her daughter. The whole time, audience members struggle to figure out how the subplot containing her daughter’s story connects to the main plot of the alien landing. When I found out the way the two story lines connected, I was unable to wrap my brain around it. Sure, it was a little far-fetched, but the way the writers had set the plot up for the reveal of the connection left me amazed at their creativity.
Arrival avoided the major clichés that all other alien-themed sci-fi movies hit. In movies like Cowboys vs. Aliens, the audience can always predict the epic battle of the humans and aliens. In other movies, there is the classic abduction of the humans. While the viewers watch the movie, they do not know if the plot will end in war or not, and unlike most movies of its kind, war is not a given. They also do not know whether there will be major conflict between the humans themselves, since the UFO’s were landing worldwide, and many countries were at odds with each other.
The viewers are constantly searching for answers to questions that will help them predict the ending of the movie. The writers of this movie did a great job withholding the last piece of information that solves the mystery of a movie until the very end. The entire time, the audience members find themselves confused. I am usually able to predict the endings of movies, but Arrival left me stumped. Even though they keep you in the dark, the writers do not make you frustrated. The confusion intrigues you and makes you want to keep watching.
If you are one who finds mysterious, well-thought out plots that bring you confusion to be enjoyable, I would strongly suggest Arrival. If asked the question, “If you could see your whole life from start to finish would you change things?” I would say no. I definitely would see this movie again. It is truly defied all the doubts I ever had before going to see it. The well thought out plot, the new angle on alien-themed movies and the confusion it inflicts upon its watchers is truly a great thing to witness and be a part of.
Article by staff member Allie Jensen
Photo courtesy of Interstate Studios