Commentaries

Friday, December 30, 2016

ARRIVAL



ALIENS WITH LAME MESSAGE

Film Review by Fiore 


From the earliest to the latest, science-fiction stories have contained a cultural or social sub theme.  They warned to “look toward the skies”, or “we are not alone” or “join us in peace, or we will reduce your planet to a burnt-out cinder.”  The social and cultural messages often blend harmoniously with the plot, and as such, make for compelling movies.  Unfortunately, this is not the case with ARRIVAL.

At first glance, ARRIVAL bears a striking resemblance to Jodie Foster’s CONTACT.  The story, penned by Eric Heisserer, quickly degenerates into a fostering of all the social constructs that resulted in the Democratic humiliation that was the past presidential election.

A dozen alien ships land strategically around the world.  A ploy similar to the one used in the original INDEPENDENCE DAY.  These alien crafts, however, are not stationed for global destruction in a checkmate pattern.  Their location is puzzling, and so a method of communications becomes necessary.

Enter Dr. Louise Banks played by Amy Adams.  A very cunning linguist, Adams is portrayed as the idol of the feminist movement; a single mom raising a child capably, without benefit of the family unit.  She is apparently doing a fine job, until her daughter is diagnosed with cancer, and dies.  This is the typical single mother syndrome promoted by Tinseltown, based on a Helen Reddy mantra; I am woman, I am strong, and I can do it all without a man.  Please. 

Dr. Banks becomes the front man for an elite crew designated to establish contact with the aliens.  Her partner is Dr. Ian Donnelly, played by Jeremy Renner.  The group is overseen by Colonel Weber, played by Forest Whitaker, who is excellent in his portrayal.

The tone of the film is firmly set in the opening reel. Weber comes to ask for Banks’ assistance in alien translation, and she replies with a snarky comment about the military.  She is immediately given all the looney liberal ideologies associated with academia, especially on the college level, and utilizes every opportunity to spew the sewage.

Heisserer’s script proceeds to denigrate the military, conservative news, religion and conservative talk radio, with a parody of Rush Limbaugh.  His screenplay concludes with a jumble of coagulated messages meaningful only to those on medical marijuana.  The sum line is, if we can improve our interpersonal relationships, then we will have better relationships with other countries across the world.  It’s not as serious as the burnt-out cider warning.

KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:

1.      REMOVAL OF THE SPACE SUITS
  2    CRACKING OF THE CODE
3.      SCENES WITH FOREST WHITAKER


Technically, ARRIVAL is slick.  The aliens are a rip-off from Gareth Edwards’ MONSTERS, but on a smaller scale.  They are constantly surrounded by a fog atmosphere, giving them a more menacing appearance.  But, make no mistake, to drive home the “can’t we all just get along” message, these aliens are very Spielberg-like in nature.  Louis Morin handles the SFX.

ARRIVAL also has a rousing score by Johann Johannsson, and a nice collection of cant camera angles by Cinematographer Bradford Young.  The polished visage of ARRIVAL cleverly disguises its liberal lunacy. 

ARRIVAL is worth a view, for the film’s look, Whitaker’s performance and that of Adams, who seems quite comfortable in these loving motherly roles.  The package of the film is a little too neat, with the only real threat coming from ourselves, and not the aliens who are the story’s catalyst.


THE GRADE FOR ARRIVAL = C

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