(Newer movies that I’m just getting to now)
Enemy was odd without much of a payoff and Sicario was very good in spots but overall just ok. Prisoners remains a true masterpiece which is why I continue to check out his work. But man, Arrival is another disappointing entry.
It’s a combination of things that sorta get to me. It’s not only on the slow side but also depressing as hell. The entire world doesn’t want to work with each other to figure out what these freaky aliens in their admittedly neatly designed spaceships want. Instead it’s unsurprising dicks China that seem eager to go to war with the visitors and it’s a few US insurgent assholes that try to ruin shit for all of humanity. I’m not saying this isn’t a realistic and effective approach to the material, but when the whole world turns on itself and everything’s going to shit because some people can’t keep cool heads it’s too damn sad and frustrating. Welcome to Earth, I guess.
There are other issues though like the film being too dimly lit (did anyone else have trouble making some shit out?), the uninteresting alien design, the extremely plain title and the very bland lead characters. The introduction of Jeremy Renner (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) is especially bad where he picks a fight with Amy Adams (The Fighter) for no reason other than to have some brief manufactured tension.
The biggest aspect that has me scratching my head though is the reveal at the end. You see throughout the movie Amy Adams has these flashbacks to her daughter who ended up dying at a very young age of a rare disease. Well it turns out these aren’t flashbacks at all but visions of the future. Adams’ encounter with the aliens and her ability to learn their language enables her to possess this clairvoyant power. However it’s a little weird that she seems to have these powers before she meets the aliens. Whatever the filmmakers got me, I fell right into their trap. But is it clever or stupid? I honestly don’t know.
There’s also the part where Adams saves the world by getting the Chinese head honcho on the phone and reciting his wife’s dying words to him. The implication is this guy understands there’s something way more to these aliens and their visit so he decides to get off the warpath. Adams has a vision of the Chinese leader expressing his gratitude for calling him on his private number and telling him his wife’s deathbed words. So that’s sorta how Adams knew what to do and say. But how did she know these things unless she had already done them once before, which she had not? There’s a similar problem in The Terminator with Kyle Reese being John Connor’s father. How could John send Reese back in time if Reese needs to go back in time to father John to begin with? The actions Adams takes in the present are based on her vision of the future. But that vision is dependent upon the action she takes at that moment in the present, which involves knowledge she didn’t know ever. Ok I know I probably lost you but trust me, it’s fucked.
No More Spoilers
The coolest thing in the picture is the crazy looking written language the aliens have which supposedly is a real somewhat functioning language that was created for the movie. It’s in a unique form where sentences are written in ink blot circles. You could say they look like coffee cup ring stains but I’ll totally give the filmmakers credit for opening my mind to something like that. Apparently it’s not only possible but it really exists. Neato.