Arrival Review

Director Denis Villeneuve has been widely known for creating realistic thrillers such as Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015). Prisoners (2013) dealt with the abduction of two girls and a desperate search to find them, and Sicario (2015) involved an idealistic FBI Agent (Emily Blunt) who enlisted in a government task force assigned to bring down the leader of a insidious drug cartel in Juarez, Mexico. Now, we have been given Villeneuve’s next high stakes thriller, Arrival (2016)


Twelve extraterrestrial spacecraft appear across the Earth.  A bereaved linguist named Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is assigned by the military under the jurisdiction of Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) to assist in translating of the alien communications. After being accompanied by a theoretical physicist named Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), it is now their task to deduct whether or not “they” come in peace or have come to destroy.

Entertainment Factor:

Arrival is a thriller, and a thriller sometimes needs to take its time. Similar to Gregory Hoblit and his film Primal Fear (1996), it pulls you in and immerses you in order to have you, the viewer, attempt to deduct what is happening or what will happen next. But for most thrillers, they try to be as ambiguous as possible in order to increase the shock value of the plot twist or one of the plot twists. Arrival only has two major plot twists throughout, in order to keep this review spoiler free, I will not exploit them. Do not expect any action in this film, this film is about establishing a form of communication between two different races. One from the earth, and the other from somewhere far away from what we call “home”. The difficulty of this is shown and understood throughout the film because you actually realize how difficult the assigned task is for the two protagonists. This film makes you interested in its chain of events, because when you finally see the “visitors,” you have no idea what they are and what they are trying to say. What makes the film so entertaining is that you are also trying to understand what “they” are trying to say to the two protagonists. But, there is only so much one film can do before it can make a few mistakes or leave some plot holes.


  • Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner both deliver excellent performances
  • The musical score is tense and fits perfectly in sequence with the events throughout the film
  • Style and design of the extraterrestrial beings is unique and original, but also dark and arcane.
  • Is interesting enough to immerse you into the protagonist’s situation
  • The entertainment is brought on by the ambiguousness of the central plot, as you the viewer are trying to deduct what “they” are saying.


  • The film’s slow pace can sometimes be very boring and tiring, you wait for something to happen, but the actual events that take place are far and few in between
  • The major twist at the end may confuse some.

Final Score: 8.5/10

Directed by:

Denis Villeneuve

Produced by:

Shawn Levy

Dan Levine

Aaron Ryder

David Linde

Screenplay by:

Eric Heisserer

Based on:

“Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang


Amy Adams

Jeremy Renner

Forest Whitaker

Michael Stuhlbarg

Tzi Ma


Johann Johannsson


Bradford Young

Edited by:

Joe Walker


FilmNation Entertainment

Lava Bear Films

21 Laps Entertainment

Distributed by:

Paramount Pictures

Release Dates:

September 1st, 2016

Running Time:

116 Minutes


United States


$47 million

About the Author

Gavin Boyce
Gavin Boyce is a junior at Millbrook. Most of his time consists of writing and watching multiple classic films, such as “Apocalypse Now”, “Pulp Fiction”, and “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”.