(2016) 116 mins
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Writers: Eric Heisserer
Less Close Encounters of the Third Kind and more Linguistic Encounters of the Academic Kind, this is a sci-fi movie with intelligence, cerebral and emotional.
Arrival stars Amy Adams as a language professor who is called in by the military when 12 vast alien spacecraft arrive and hover suspiciously above Earth.
It is directed by Denis Villeneuve, who is a master of edgy tension — previously seen in his film Sicario, which also boasted a powerful female lead. Adams turns in a terrific performance as Dr Louise Banks, who suddenly finds herself swept up in an army helicopter by a Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), and taken to a base in Montana where a 1,500ft-long UFO floats like a polished grey river stone suspended above the ground.
Inside are aliens whose speech sounds like whales singing down a bad telephone connection, and Banks is charged with communicating that age-old question: do you come in peace or to blow us to pieces?
Amy Adams is tipped for an Oscar for this unforgettable, amazing sci-fi film.
The Telegraph: "light-years apart from Independence Day and the fist-pumping like. But in any language, human or otherwise, it will leave you speechless." (5 stars)
The Times: "Arrival is sci-fi for grown ups, with deep waves of emotion, and a Möbius strip of a plot that keeps the audience guessing." (4 stars)
The Independent: "It’s heartening to encounter a science fiction thriller that is ready to deal with abstract ideas and that doesn’t rely on the slightest on action movie clichés." (4 stars)