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Arrival (7/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 116 minutes.

OK for children.

Every once in a while film comes along that is well acted, well written, well directed, and beautifully photographed, but defies credibility and comprehension. Thatís why God created sci-fi. And that describes this film perfectly. Check your desire for reason and common sense at the door.

In this film directed by Denis Villeneuve from a screenplay by Eric Heisserer based on a short story, ďStory of Your LifeĒ by Ted Chiang, Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a world renowned linguist who is retained by the US government to investigate one of 12 huge spaceships that has landed in Montana.

While the short story and the film are about language, the language of the aliens seems to be just guttural noises, so Louise decides to try to communicate with them through writings. This is where the film becomes pure science fiction with the emphasis on ďfiction,Ē because thereís no way anybody could interpret what the aliens put out there as their written language and this is the filmís biggest flaw.

This is also one of what seems to be an unending number of films that pictures the aliens who have been able to conquer time and space as reptilian, almost monster-like with webs for hands that donít look like they could ever hold anything, like a screwdriver, to build their huge spaceship.

I have no idea what the creatures out there beyond Alpha Centauri and in other solar systems in our galaxy and the over one billion other galaxies look like, but Iím willing to bet a dollar to a donut that if they are able to conquer time and space to travel to our planet, they donít look anything like the lizardy monsters Hollywood moviemakers make them out to be. In fact, I bet they look a lot more like Michael Rennie in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951).

But, as I said, this is sci-fi so you leave all your disbelief outside the theater and donít ask too many questions. Adams does a fine job as the harried linguist and thereís even a touching mother daughter story to add to the mix.

Throw in all this and add some time warping and there is enough incomprehensibility to give you The Day the Earth Stood Still Meets Last Year at Marienbad. Despite the fact that itís utter nonsense, you donít have to completely follow or accept what happens to enjoy it.