Sunday, January 08, 2017

Brief Thoughts - ARRIVAL (2016)

Ted Chiang is a science fiction writer of some note and many accomplishments. I've only read a few of his short stories but each one has been brilliant showing the author's skill at thinking through an idea to something hidden just on the other side. If I had known ARRIVAL (2016) was based on his fiction I would have seen it opening weekend.

I will not ruin any of the many pleasures this carefully crafted film has to offer but I will take a moment to complain about some of the criticisms I read about the story that kept me from seeing the film until the end of the year. If the only thing you want to talk about after this powerful film has concluded is that it was stupid for an alien race to travel to our planet but not already be able to communicate with us you can officially go straight to hell. The entire film revolves around the fact that the aliens are struggling to find a way to talk to us and even their worldwide project using multiple sites and contact styles is massively difficult. One might make the rather easy leap to think that the complexity of the task and the hardships involved in the struggle just might be the damned point. Or at least one of them. Idiots.

But, to be clear, ARRIVAL is one of the best films I saw in 2016 and well worth seeing. It's thoughtful, smart, emotional and satisfying in ways I had forgotten science fiction can be. I'm not ashamed to say I wept tears of both sadness and joy. 


James Lewis said...

I really liked this film, too. My girlfriend has a couple Masters in Linguistics, and even she felt the story did a decent job of properly showing the complexities of language learning.

ARRIVAL is the type of science fiction (not "sci-fi") (if I can get all Harlan Ellison-y about the difference) I really enjoy. I find that as I get older my patience with action movie sci-fi wears very, very thin. I want ideas not explosions. ARRIVAL is a great movie of ideas.

Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

I totally agree with you. That ending and the whole story was one of the best science fiction movies I have seen all year that didn't rely on huge explosions and massive battles. It was smart and didn't talk down to me. History will be kind to this film as more people find it while the movie that beat it at the theatre - TROLLS - will be lost to the toilet of movie history.