From Denis Villeneuve who directed 2013’s Prisoners and 2015’s Sicario, Arrival is a brilliantly crafted intelligent sci-fi film that heavily relies on terrific performances rather than over-the-top fantastical CGI. Played by the two-time Golden Globe winner Amy Adams, Louise Banks is a linguistics professor tasked with the unusual role of communicating with aliens who have mysteriously landed twelve spacecraft across the world. Not knowing whether they are peaceful or hostile visitors, a global panic ensues, and the United States government and other nations must figure out how to proceed without provoking war. Dr. Banks along with a team of experts, including a theoretical physicist portrayed by Jeremy Renner, are recruited by Forest Whitaker’s character, a U.S. Army Colonel, to unearth the extraterrestrials’ intentions. Working through her own personal issues, Dr. Banks must face the alien creatures and interpret their language with the aid of complex mathematical and scientific computations. The film underscores the mysterious circumstances by setting the floating crescent-shaped spacecraft that arrived on American soil in the eerily quiet Montana countryside where a temporary military outpost is established. It is smart sci-fi that delves into somewhat plausible scientific details and the often overlooked important implications of the linguistics academic field. Dr. Banks uses her esoteric knowledge to come to understand the aliens and try to prevent the world’s fearful militaries from embarking on a cataclysmic war possibly resulting in the extinction of the human race. Without spoiling the mind-blowing plot, the further along she gets in her extraterrestrial interactions the stranger things get for her. The movie’s thought-provoking material reminded me of such sci-fi films as 1997’s Contact and 2014’s Interstellar. Like those sci-fi flicks, the audience leaves the theater thinking about what really happened and tries to warp their mind around the deeply philosophical issues that it provokes. Overall, I found it to be one of the more noteworthy sci-fi films in recent memory because it went beyond simply providing mindless action like most Hollywood blockbusters. It was full of superb acting and masterful elements of mystery and intricate science fiction based on real science and fields of study. 

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