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From acclaimed director Denis Villeneuve, the visionary behind Prisoners, Enemy, and Sicario, comes Arrival- a Close Encounters of the Third Kind for this generation positively brimming with his impressionistic style and visuals. Its dialogue driven plot, a sly criticism on foreign relations policies, weaves a twisted narrative that is gorgeous in its complexity- a mulitlayered and multifaceted storyline with the sci-fi intrigue of Interstellar and the political depth of any given crisis drama.
There's a uniquely human touch behind Arrival's story, making its sci-fi elements play more of a background role to its physical facet. A shroud of mystery has surrounded the promotional material for this film, and the same amount of facade clouds the start of this plot, as well. Its problem is that as I got further into it, I realized how the story would play out, although admittedly not as word for word as I had thought, the general denouement was fairly easy to decipher. Compared to the twists and turns in Villeneuve's last two outings, Arrival's mystical nature fell to the wayside before the halfway mark was reached. But perhaps the charm of Arrival isn't to be found in its predictability, but rather its stunning visuals and production designs. The score is marvelous, to say the least. Its emotional impact is on par with Hans Zimmer's organic powerhouse from Interstellar, creating a wholly magnificent score that bolsters its visuals and performances beyond the stars.
Speaking of its performances, Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner are absolutely on fire here. However, Adams in particular brings a psychological depth to her persona that drives the entire narrative forward into an admittedly amorphous subplot that leaves something to be desired. It could be another case of Enemy, wherein a second viewing is required to fully appreciate the context we are shown throughout the narrative. Villeneuve has never been a stranger to playing with his audience's thought process and emotions- this is undoubtedly the case with Arrival as well.
Although not as stunning as the adrenaline rush that is Sicario, Arrival is a welcome introduction into the sci-fi genre for Villeneuve. Given his track record and fantastic styles, I wouldn't be surprised if we had nothing to fear at all with the impending Blade Runner sequel. He just might be the best working director capable of recapturing the classic cinematic magic that was within Ridley Scott's original masterpiece, so I have tremendous faith in what he has planned for it. An intriguing, if not slightly predictable, sci-fi spectacle.