Everything You Need to Know About: ‘Arrival’ 

Craving an otherworldly movie? This weekend, Arrival descends upon theaters in the U.S. offering the story of two scientists’ attempt to communicate with a tentacled race of aliens who have appeared all over the planet in floating egg-like ships. As hostilities mount in countries like China and Russia, the Americans must figure out what the extraterrestrials want before it’s too late. Sound promising? Read on!

Who’s in it?

Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner head up this heady tale with support from Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg, Tzi Ma and more.

What’s it about?

Louise Banks (Adams) is a gifted linguist whose quiet academic life is upended when 12 mysterious ships arrive all over the Earth. Soon, Colonel Weber (Whitaker) and his team arrive at her door requesting her help to communicate with their visitors. She and a mathematician named Ian (Renner) race to find a way to communicate with the aliens as pressure mounts from the U.S. government and violence breaks out around the world.

Why should I care?

Frankly, the real star of this enterprise is the director Denis Villeneuve. His earlier successes include Prisoners, Enemy and Sicario. If you’re a fan of lush detail and thoughtful filmmaking, not to mention a truly ominous score, this sci-fi outing is not to be missed.

Here’s what critics are saying…

“By turns inviting and opaque, Ms. Adams turns softness and quiet into heroic qualities, keeping her voice low, modulated, and using stillness to draw you near.”

-Manohla Dargis [New York Times]

Arrival, like the Spielberg classic it aspires to, brings the beyond to us. In doing so, it asks a challenging, prescient question: Are we ready to teach, and ready to learn?”

-Andrew Lapin [NPR]

“The focus is serious human drama, gripping in a way that sci-fi seldom achieves. The film is intricately handsome and rarely showy, flawlessly made and earnest-minded.”

-Colin Covert [Minneapolis Star Tribune]

“What’s remarkable about Arrival is its contemplative core — and, of course, Ms. Adams’s star performance, which is no less impassioned for being self-effacing.”

-Joe Morgenstern [Wall Street Journal]