Aliens have arrived! The only problem is, no one knows how to communicate with them. It’s up to the people of Earth to find a way to converse with these mysterious creatures in this compelling sci-fi flick starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner.
There are two types of extraterrestrial films: Malevolent and benevolent. The majority of the malevolent ones consist of an alien invasion that wreaks havoc and destruction among the human population. They want our planet, our resources, and they want humanity gone! Needless to say, they can easily do it. They’ve mastered space travel, they have superior weaponry and ‘hive-minds.’ This is a huge advantage over the puny humans who still find reasons to hate one another on the local spectrum. As a divided species, it’s no wonder we’re so easy to defeat. On the flip side, the benevolent ones are eerily calm, confusing, compelling, and full of meaning. These aliens come with a message of love, prosperity, demilitarize, and corporation. They want to help the human race. They wish to add us to the galactic community. It’s an amazing gesture of good faith towards our species. It’s also one we should seriously consider. These extraterrestrials are generally much older, and have gone through the same pains as humans. Yet they’ve evolved, found ways to move pass their differences, learned to work together, and mastered the method of traveling amongst the stars. They move from galaxy to galaxy spreading good tidings, and assist those who wish to join them. They also come with dire warnings.
Humanity has always been a warring species. We fight for limited resources, limited land, and judge each other harshly for our differing beliefs and ethnicities. We’ve created weapons of mass destruction, caused genocides, and multiple global wars. We’ve also created nuclear and atomic bombs that’ll destroy entire cities. If we’re willing to completely destroy ourselves with mutual assured destruction, wouldn’t be also be a huge threat to peaceful alien communities? This is the main concern of the benevolent beings. They want humanity to stop killing one another and learn to love. They constantly say we need to get rid of our weapons of mass destruction or else face the dire consequences of annihilation. This annihilation could come from humans and/or extraterrestrials who deem us a threat. Humanity is so used to warring, it’s hard to imagine getting rid of all the weapons. What if it’s a rouse to get us to disarm ourselves, making way for an easy takeover of our beloved planet Earth? There are too many factors and too many agendas going on for us to simply say, “Okay, here’s everything that would protect us in the event of an attack or invasion.” However, this may be the very reason the extra-terrestrials have yet to expose themselves to humanity. We’re not ready. This would make a lot of sense when you think about it. Perhaps they are patiently waiting for us to be ready to join the galactic community once we’ve ironed out our petty differences. But what if there’s an alien race that’s in trouble and needs an ally? What if humanity is just the ally they need to overcome their dire situation? I guess they’d have to say hello then. This is exactly what happens in the beginning of Arrival.
Arrival is a very compelling film about benevolent extra-terrestrials. They suddenly show up all over our planet in the most peculiar space craft. These vertical kidney bean-looking ships make no noise, have zero emissions, and pose no threat as far as we can tell. However, they’re too mysterious to not be concerned about. Immediately, the Armies of the world gather around these ships, blocking them from the rest of the population. The governments have open communications with one another, attempting to find a way to communicate. Every major country shares their findings over a video network. The problem is, no one can figure out how to talk with the extra-terrestrials. All we know is that a door opens up every eighteen hours. Humans can come in, walk through a tunnel, and meet these majestic squid-like creatures in a central lobby. The aliens are separated from humans by a thick glass wall, and move around in a fog-like substance. It’s very difficult to see them clearly. After several failed attempts at communicating with the beings, the US military decides to bring in a highly-recommended Language Specialist, named Louise Banks (Amy Adams).
Louise is the best at what she does. She also teaches at a University and seems consumed by her work. On the day of the Arrival, she practically doesn’t even notice. Instead, she notices her class consists of just a few students. Blowing that off, she resumes her class only to be overshadowed by the ringing from every student’s cell phone. Unbeknownst to Louise something big has happened that has everyone terrified. Even then, Louise returns to work the next day. Not surprisingly, no one is in her class or on campus. They’re at home with their friends and family. Instead of going home, Louise decides to hang out in her office. Suddenly she’s approached by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) who’s eager to get her input on the recorded sounds coming from the alien ship hovering over American soil. She expresses that she can’t really help unless she’s there in person. The audio file doesn’t provide hardly anything to work with. They don’t choose her right away, but it’s determined she’s the best candidate for the job. They quickly fly her to the location of the massive alien ship. There, Louise and Ian (Jeremy Renner) must work together to try and communicate with the Extra Terrestrials. It’s incredibly stressful, mysterious, and jarringly-terrifying to say the least. Still, Louise knows she must find a way to speak with these alien beings. The future of humanity may be at stake. While she’s working with the military and the Extra Terrestrials, Louise also has flashbacks of her young daughter. It seems like the memory of her bring much despair to Louise. As she works with the ETs, the memories of her daughter become more prominent, and affect her dearly. Perhaps there’s some connection?
Think Louise and Ian can find a way to break the language barrier and learn why the ETs have come to our little blue marble in the Universe? If so, will they learn if they’re here to help us or destroy us? You’ll have to tune in to find out!
Enough about that…let’s check out what all is included with this Blu-ray release!
The menu design consists of a static image of Amy Adams assessing the circular writings on the glass wall of the alien ship. The options are listed along the bottom of the screen, and include: play, settings, scenes, and extras. The ‘Settings’ option allows viewer to choose the Audio and Subtitle tracks for the film. The languages include: English, French and Spanish. The ‘Scenes’ option displays five chapters at a time. Each one is numbered and includes a snapshot from the scene. Bookmarks can be accessed from here as well.
Now let’s check out the bonus features included with this release!
– Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival (30:03 HD): Do you choose love even if you know it ends with loss and heartbreak? This is the soul message of the film. In this feature the cast and crew explain how this film is more about the human condition rather than aliens. They also discuss how the idea of Arrival came about, and the initial difficulty that came with the project. It was a tough task to take on, but I believe the cast and crew did a fantastic job bringing the short story to the big screen. The cast also takes some time to mention how great everyone did in the film. There’s a lot of love and appreciation among everyone on set. There’s plenty more to see in this feature as well, so make sure to check this one out!
– Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design (13:59 HD): The sound design in a film can be a character in itself. It can play a vital role in the progression of a story and builds all sorts of emotions viewers would not experience otherwise. The sound design for Arrival accomplishes this very thing. It builds tension and provides an ambience that never overcomes the visuals. The sound effects consist of natural earth sounds like rolling rocks, wind, and cracking ice. The effects used for the aliens was also quite interesting. The creatures were complex, very tall, and lacked a visual mouth. They were also supposed to be slightly intimidating, yet graceful. The sound mixers did a great job bringing natural Earth-based effects to the alien creatures. Overall, the sound design does a great job and compliments the visuals from beginning to end.
– Principles of Time, Memory, & Language (15:24 HD): Arrival can be a confusing film to follow. This is especially true once we approach the ending. This feature explains how the writers and creators thought outside the box in terms of story-telling. The past, present, and future can take place at the same time, and this is reflected in the story. Language has a lot to do with it as well. Learning the alien language enables humans to comprehend and see the future at any time. This ability helps the characters with the problems they are facing in the present.
– Eternal Recurrence: The Score (11:24 HD): Much like the sound design, the musical score is vital to the overall experience of the film. The score is subtle, fresh, and ever-present throughout the film. This feature takes a look at how the score was conceived and captured. They used some neat piano sounds and vocals at various octaves and speeds. The score consisted of many layers. If you’re interested in seeing how the musical magic was made, make sure to watch this feature.
– Nonlinear Thinking: The Editing Process (11:20 HD): Editing a film like this couldn’t have been easy. Piecing together a story that’s not in linear time, yet looks like it’s linear with flashbacks is a wild idea. The Director said the hardest part of this film was the editing. The structuring of this film was superbly done, and it shows in the final product. It makes for a great twist near the end of the film.
Now let’s take a look at the technical side of this release.
The 1080p image comes with an aspect ratio of 2.39:1, so there will be black bars along the top and bottom of your HDTV display. No need to worry though as the image quality and story will quickly make you forget about those pesky bars. This film has a cold-tone most of the time, so the color palette can be a bit muted as well. Nevertheless, this visual style accompanies the look and emotion of the film; creating dread, worry, mystery. The stark contrast of the ship’s inner chamber provides an interesting visual that’s guaranteed to test the capabilities of your HDTV. The rectangular and ribbed tunnel is only slightly illuminated by the bright white glass wall at the end. The lighting behind the wall is quite unnatural, and adds to the uncertainly viewers are exposed to in the story. The scenes that take place at the base camp are also a bit dull. Again, this seems to be more of a visual style, and not of a bad production by any means. Just don’t expect the digitally captured image to blow you away with its visuals.
The Dolby Atmos/7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track does a great job pulling the viewer into the action. The use of silence is an important part as well. It builds tension and unease. Viewers will hear a constant resonance at times that echoes within a scene. It’s organic and compelling. The sounds of the alien craft as they move is very interesting as well. There are no visual moving parts, yet the ship creeks and moans like the sound of rolling rocks, earthquakes and breaking ice. It’s a really neat sound effect that will make viewers wonder how the hell the ship is making those sounds. It’s very alien…
Overall, Arrival is a fantastic sci-fi film that takes a look at the human condition during a stressful time of a new, massive discovery. Not only does it tell humanity there’s life beyond Earth; it begs the question of how humanity would respond to this knowledge. Hollywood has conditioned audiences that if aliens do arrive, it can only mean they’re here to destroy us and take our planet. This puts humanity on the defense, and forces us to doubt the benevolent nature of Extra Terrestrials. The Alien method of communication is another issue we’ll have to overcome. If an extra-terrestrial species arrives on Earth, there’s a good chance they’ll have no idea how to communicate with us or know our languages. Arrival is a great example of the issues that would come with alien contact. I can only hope we learn to communicate peacefully instead of freaking out and firing our weapons at an unknown alien craft. If they can make it to Earth, they’ll certainly have the technology to beat us at our own warring ways.
Arrival is a great film that teaches viewers that we need to come together in times of crisis, and not look at how we can overcome the other nations around us. Humanity has been hell-bent on world domination and the collection of resources. Because of this we tend to forget we are all humans. We are Humanity. Sadly, it may take the sudden visitation of Extra Terrestrials before we realize we are one of the same, and need to push aside our differences. Until then, we may never mature enough to work together and finally discover a way to sail among the stars of our expansive Universe.
If you’re looking for a spectacular Sci-Fi flick that observes and displays the human condition in the event aliens arrive on Earth – look no further. This film is a must-have for any Sci-Fi fan. It poses big questions and includes huge possibilities we humans have yet to comprehend. Pick it up on Blu-ray today!