The Source for Youth Ministry

Movie Reviews
by Todd Pearage

Arrival (2/14/2017)

Rated PG-13 for brief strong language.

Starring Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker

Directed by Denis Villeneuve (Sicario and Prisoners)

Todd's Rating: Theatre Worthy

Dynamic ImageNot your typical “alien invasion” film.

When mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team - lead by expert linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) - is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.

Let’s just say that Arrival is a remarkable film.

Denis Villeneuve uses flashbacks in a brilliant and sometimes confusing way. As the film begins, we see a baby and her mother with a voiceover saying, “I used to think this was the beginning of your story.” We see the moments of life…games of cowboy, arguments, reconciliations, and her mother continues, “I remember moments in the middle... and this was the end.” We see the girl, now a teenager in a hospital bed. Then we see the empty bed. And while it appears to be Louise’s backstory, it is so much more.

Amy Adams is fantastic in the role of Dr. Louise Banks, a world-class linguist whom the Army recruits to help. And Jeremy Renner is a perfect counterpart. Forest Whitaker delivers a strong performance as Colonel Weber.

Thankfully, the film is not overwhelmed with CGI or special effects. They are there to support the story and there are a few times they actually take your breath away. Like when a helicopter first approaches the alien craft, we see it slowly emerge from the mist. The 1,500-foot spaceship looks like it is floating weightlessly just above the ground – very impressive.

The tension between military and scholars is strong but not preachy. And the audience is given no indication as to the aliens’ intentions early on causing an uneasy feeling though most of the film.

When we finally see the aliens – we see two giant, squid-like beings that float on the other side of a transparent barrier. I have to say this felt and looked more like an episode of The Simpsons than a big Hollywood Sci-Fi film. And honestly, it was a pretty big hurdle for me to get past.

The script is strong and engaging. The subject matter is extremely complex and I never felt lost or clueless. There is (of course) a “twist” at the end, but the twist is more than just a clever gimmick. Think a Christopher Nolan kind of twist ending.

Most of the film looks amazing and the pace is deliberate. I really enjoyed it. It was “Theater Worthy.”

There are several mature themes that are subplots of the film. We also see an explosion and a few scary scenes.

There is one F-word and a few other profanities.

  1. What were some things Louise did to communicate with the aliens?

  2. Why was it so important to take the process slowly?

  3. Read James 1:19

      Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

  4. What advice does James give us?

  5. How can you be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry?

Todd Pearage Todd Pearage is a movie buff at heart, but he's not your traditional film critic. Todd is a blue collar film geek, from his job years ago at Blockbuster to his heartfelt online movie reviews. But Todd isn't just a film geek. He has worked with middle and high school students since 1991 as a youth pastor and is currently on staff at Calvary Church in Souderton, PA. Todd and his wife Lynda have three children, Brianna, Caleb and Addyson.

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