If someone were to ask me what I thought of the movie Interstellar, I would enthusiastically speak of some of my favourite parts and tell them how much I had enjoyed the movie. I would give a few outstanding quotes and finish off with the spiritual meaning of those quotes.
Recently, a friend asked me what I thought of the movie Arrival and my immediate answer was, “It was pretty good.” I guess if I was limited to a one sentence answer, that would be it. It is easy to see why no one is rushing to my blog to get my latest movie critique. To say the least, it would be rather uneven.
Arrival is, in many ways, a great movie much like Signs (14 years earlier). In both Arrival and Signs, the directors learned that the best moments of a Sci-Fi movie are those before the aliens are revealed. However, in Arrival, the director realized that one should not reveal too much about the aliens by the end of the movie. Leaving aliens mysterious and shadowy without totally resolving their appearance, behaviour, or motivation makes for a much better movie. Are you listening M. Night Shyamalan?!
However, creating a confusing ending that does not hold up to scientific investigation and covering it with brave and convoluted dialogue does not lend itself to anyone saying, “That was a great movie!” Arrival tries just a little too hard to be clever. Yes, the ending of Interstellar was about time tripping and seeing beyond the constraints of time and space, but it made sense in the movie. There was a natural progression of the characters grasping more and more of this dimension of the universe. It was not a surprise when they got to the point of omni-chronology. You cannot say the same for Arrival. Arrival flows along as an interesting revelation about sociology, war, history, and the nature of espionage and violence before suddenly plunging us into the world of “the future is now” and “yesterday I heard you speak those words that you will say for the first time tomorrow.” It is just too much to take in, in the last few moments of the film.
So, I would still highly recommend Interstellar, Oblivion, and even Signs (mostly for the scare factor) ahead of Arrival. It seems odd that Arrival is getting so much Oscar attention. Perhaps the Academy saw something I didn’t.