Arrival (2016): adapted from Ted Chiang’s “Story of Your Life” by Eric Heisserer; directed by Denis Villeneuve; starring Amy Adams (Louise Banks), Jeremy Renner (Ian Donnelly), Forest Whitaker (Colonel Weber), Michael Stuhlbarg (Agent Halpern), and Tzi Ma (General Shang): The first half-hour could have used some strenuous advising from someone in the military so as to lose all the military-movie cliches and counter-factual errors that arise. Once we’re inside the alien ship, however, things start to sing in this tale of First Contact.
It’s really Amy Adams’ show as an actor — she’s great, conveying both intelligence and heartache as the linguist drafted by the U.S. military to figure out the language of the aliens that just parked their giant contact lens in Montana. More scenes with the aliens would have been appreciated. Canadian director Denis Villeneuve does some nice work with visuals and sound design here, though once again he’s made a movie that seems just about 10 minutes longer than it ideally should be. And the sound design occasionally buries the dialogue, suggesting that Villeneuve may be attempting to emulate the sonic murk of Christopher Nolan. Recommended.