Arrival Review: 10 Reasons It's An Instant Classic

Denis Villeneuve's first contact is heady, emotional, and one of the best films of the year.

Arrival Amy Adams
Paramount Pictures

Rating: ★★★★★

In the past few years, Autumn has become the prime place to release big budget sci-fi with starry casts and lofty ideas from proven auteurs with Oscar potential. Gravity kicked it off in 2013, followed by Interstellar and The Martian in 2014 and 2015, and while each of those was great in their own delightfully unique ways, 2016's entry is the best of the lot.

Arrival is, to put it simply, incredible. Having already put his own spin on the kidnapped child (Prisoner), cartel war (Sicario) and mind-f*ck doppelganger (Enemy) sub-genres, Denis Villeneuve has taken on well-worn area of first encounter movies and in the process delivered his best film to date, a tightly structure experience that leaves you at once stunned and desperate to watch it again straight away. Let's get the requisite Blade Runner 2 comment out of the way - it's in perfect hands.

There's so much to Arrival, so much brilliance on a story, direction and performance level. Here's ten reasons why Amy Adams' close encounter is a sci-fi classic for the ages.

10. It Takes Up A Unique Place In The Genre

Arrival Amy Adams
Paramount Pictures

There’s been stories about humanity’s first encounter with aliens as long as cinema, and the best films has worked as a representation of the attitudes of its contemporary society. In 2016, we’re a long way on from the care-free fascination of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, but so too does the straight-out fear of Independence Day and War Of The World seems a little reductive by modern standards. As such, Arrival is an extension of the genre where the ultimate feeling is uncertainty; the sense of unknowing chokes the movie, both on a global and personal level.

There’s also a key comparison point to be made with Interstellar, autumn 2014’s idea-heavy sci-fi from Christopher Nolan. On a basic level, taking a look at lofty existential concepts from a singular, emotional position, the films have a lot in common, but Arrival’s execution is much more deftly handled.

Now don’t get me wrong, I liked Interstellar a lot, especially when it comes to the sheer scale of the undertaking, but from a story and character angle, Arrival is the superior film, with all of its plot strands and themes locking more tightly together.

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Film Editor (2014-2016). Loves The Usual Suspects. Hates Transformers 2. Everything else lies somewhere in the middle. Once met the Chuckle Brothers.