Movie Review ARRIVALParamount Pictures

“If you could see your whole life from start to finish, would you change things?”

When mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team–lead by expert linguist Louise Banks–is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers–and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

It’s been a while since I’ve watched a good hard Science Fiction film. You know, one that isn’t just a space opera, or an action movie utilizing sci-fi undertones. I believe the last one I watched was Interstellar, when it was originally released in the tail end of 2015. And I would understand why, in this day and age, a hard Sci-Fi movie wouldn’t be as popular as it was back in the Before-I-Was-Born days (to borrow the non-excuse that is used for not knowing about something).

Spoilers ahead, in case you have yet to watch this movie yourself. You’ve been warned.

Arrival, not to be mistaken for the 1996 B-movie starring Charlie Sheen, finds the inhabitants of this blue spinning ball we call Earth suddenly visited by twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft landing and hovering above separate points across the globe, just kinda chilling and not doing anything. This, of course, causes the entire world’s population to collectively loose their heads; the military then, in an effort to determine if these are Independence Day type aliens we’re dealing with, or the more cuddly Close Encounters type aliens, they find a linguist and a physicist to bring to one of the spacecraft to try and make contact. The two begin bickering the moment they meet, so you know they’re going to totally hook up after they’re done trying to find a way to talk with the aliens and stuff. So, through the magic of montage, the two manage to figure you the alien language, which honestly looks at first like they’re just trolling us by showing a bunch of coffee stain pictures. But, language it is, and come to a rudimentary understanding of it they do, just in time for a bunch of the other countries the ships are over to start loosing their heads entirely and decide to do what humans do best: blow stuff up. Or, at least attempt to. This only slightly annoys them, and they shift upwards into the air a few hundred feet. The linguist finally figures out that, not only is this a language, but learning it unlocks time travel properties (don’t try and think about that too hard, your head will pop), and narrowly averts mutually assure destruction by utilizing the Bootstrap Paradox theory of time travel. The Doctor would be proud.

There’s a bunch more I left out of that Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of the description, because if I went over every bit of this movie that I happened to continue to chew over long after having watched this some time ago (would you believe it almost made me late for a Sabac game at a friend’s house because I refused to just stop it 20 minutes before the end…and nothing keeps me from my Sabac games), this humble review would go on for freaking ever. I will say, though, despite my pedantic issues I have with the time travel aspect of the movie (it’s subtle, but it will make your eyes bleed if you dwell on the implications and paradoxes contained therein), I found it very, very refreshing to watch a well-made hard science fiction movie that isn’t bogged down with ‘splosions and evil aliens and possibly Will Smith. The big twist with the language is still making my head swim, but that’s just me.

Or is it? I’m sure there are many more out there that are still chewing on this movie long after the end credits. I will now say that I’m joining the bandwagon of calling this a very, very good Sci-Fi flick that you don’t have to check your brain in at the door to enjoy, and recommend strongly to check it out some time soon.