Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's about Time for 'Arrival'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

It's about Time for 'Arrival'

Article excerpt

If you've been waiting for a science fiction movie in which, finally, it's up to a smart female linguist to try to save the planet, "Arrival" is the movie for you.

It's also a film of deliberate pace for those who like their aliens-landing-on-Earth stories to be thoughtful, even mind-bending, instead of explosive. You can count the number of explosions in "Arrival" on one hand - no, make that one finger - but that doesn't mean you have to be as out-of-this-world intelligent as Dr. Louise Banks to appreciate it.

Banks, played in pensively determined mode by the ever-versatile Amy Adams, teaches language studies at some unnamed university. She is perplexed when she shows up for class one day to find most students playing hooky. For all this Ph.D's wizardry with language, it seems she hasn't grasped use of social media, or else she'd know the kids have joined the rest of the world's fixation on 12 spaceships that have just landed around the globe.

They look like footballs standing on end 1,500 feet high, and one is on a range in Montana, of all places. Do the visitors mean to destroy us? Enlighten us? Borrow some bison for their exotic petting zoo? No one knows, because no one can communicate with them, and it's causing many people - and, even worse, the stock market - to panic.

Hmmm, if only we knew someone in academia who had advanced skills in picking up the language of strange civilizations and already has military top-secret clearance from assisting with some Farsi translations.

As quick as you can say "Steven Spielberg" three times fast, Banks is on a chopper with the Army's taciturn Col. Weber (Forest Whitaker) and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner, less intense than usual) headed to Big Sky Country. It's a little surprising that all in government or a uniform quickly defer to a female outsider to rescue them from their ignorance about extraterrestrial intruders. What's next, Hollywood fantasists - a woman president?

But Banks and Donnelly make an ingenious, if unimposing, team in going aboard the spaceship and establishing communication with two aliens they dub Abbott and Costello in one of this serious flick's few nods to humor. …

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