Thursday Night Movie Club
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Release Date: 11 November 2016

Director: Denis Villeneuve
Amy Adams
Jeremy Renner
Forest Whitaker
Michael Stuhlbarg
Mark O'Brien
Tzi Ma
Abigail Pniowsky
Julia Scarlett Dan
Jadyn Malone
Frank Schorpion
Lucas Chartier-Dessert
Christian Jadah
Lucy Van Oldenbarneveld
Andrew Shaver
Pat Kiely
Louise Banks
Ian Donnelly
Colonel Weber
Agent Halpern
Captain Marks
General Shang
Dr. Kettler
Private Lasky
Private Combs
CNAC Anchor
Environmental Tech
Environmental Tech
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The alien ships in ArrivalArrival is not about what you think it is about. That is the point. The movie is not about what is said but it is about what is said. The wisdom of a child is more important than the knowledge of an adult. One man's square is another man's rectangle.

12 alien space crafts suddenly appear around the Earth. Questions, questions and more questions arise. Who are they? Where did they come from? Why are they here? These are the more impending questions among a myriad of others.

Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) is placed in charge of the U.S. investigative team. His plan is to team the best linguist with the best theoretical mathematician in the hopes they can find a way to communicate with the aliens.

Forest Whitaker as Colonel Weber in ArrivalEven though the aliens have shown no signs of aggression, the world's militaries are on high alert. They are ready to destroy the aliens at the first hint of danger. Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) quickly informs Weber of the fine line the military is treading. When the first explorers land in Australia, they ask the Aboriginies, "What is the name of the animal that hops around and carries its young in a pouch. The Aboriginies say, "Kangaroo." Years later, the word kangaroo translates as "I don't know what you are saying." The human race must be very careful to interpret the alien language.

China's General Shang (Tzi Ma) announces to the world that one of their translations means "weapon". The 12 countries who had been working together now shut down all communications with the other. In a domino affect, all the remaining 11 countries cease communications. The world is on the brink of disaster even though no one has answered the simple question, "Why are the aliens here?"

The alien ships in Arrival

The world panics because they are ignoring the obvious. The alien ships have been sitting in place for months and yet they have still shown no signs of aggression. Everyone is so all-consumed with translating the alien language, no one asks the obvious questions. If the aliens are here on Earth to attack us, why are they taking so long? Rather than spending months communicating with us, why don't they get on with it?

The appearance of the aliens is just one big red herring. Arrival is a film about communication. There are many possible meanings for words and symbols. The aliens use a form of subtle pictographs that form a circle. Dangers arise at every turn. There is no sure-fire proof that anyone is translating the alien language correctly. One wrong move in the communications/negotiations could lead to irreversible damage. Life as we know it hangs in the balance.

Amy Adams as Louise Banks in ArrivalThe 12 human groups (China, Russia), trying to communicate with the aliens, have completely different backgrounds, histories and life experiences. Are all 12 human countries attempting to translate the same message? Receiving the cryptic message "1 of 12" doesn't help the deteriorating situation. What are the aliens trying to tell us?

Louise Banks and Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) make a great team. They respect each other's work. They do not let their egos get in the way. In a subtle way, they become not only translators but ambassadors to the aliens. Banks takes a huge leap of faith with the aliens by removing her protective suit. Donnelley follows her lead. The rest of the humans keep their suits on.

Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly in ArrivalThroughout the film, Banks sees dreams and flashbacks. They show her alone, the birth of her daughter, playing with her daughter, and finally her daughter succumbing to cancer. The dreams/visions come to Banks at seemingly random times during her attempts to learn the alien language. Are these dreams subtle clues to help her translate the alien language? Do they have no meaning? Do they have an entirely different meaning?

Arrival takes a radical turn when Donnelly discovers the aliens exist outside of a linear timeline. There is a direct correlation to Bank's "visions". The film revolves around a simple question Banks asks Donnelly, "If you could see your entire life, would you change anything?"

The alien symbols in ArrivalSpecial Effects are kept to a minimum because it is the human element that is the focus. The egg-shaped alien space ships hover in place roughly 30 feet above the ground. The hectopod creatures are shrouded in a mist. The hectopods squirt out a type of squid-like ink that forms into their form of a sentence. The effect is impressive. The humans use a lift to enter inside the alien ships and into a square passage. Once inside, the humans can walk onto the "walls" as if they were a floor.

Inside the alien ship in ArrivalDirector Denis Villeneuve starts the film with quiet innocence. As the aliens haven't attacked, the people react with curiosity. As the slow process of translating the alien messages evolves, curiosity from the government and the public slowly changes from frustration, to mistrust, to fear, and to panic. The tension is thick as pea soup.

The final resolution of the problem comes as a complete surprise. Thinking outside-the-box saves humanity. Arrival is an amazing film!