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The last few years have been quite a renaissance of modern science fiction filmmaking, with films like Gravity, Interstellar, The Martian, Ex Machina, and Midnight Special proving that originality is not dead. To say that Arrival is another film to rank among these is almost a disservice; the film isn’t just an instant sci-fi classic, but one of the most emotional films of the year.

Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a world reknowned linguist, recruited by the U.S. Government when a series of spacecrafts land in twelve locations across the globe. Paired with scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Louise attempts to make contact with the alien life and discover their purpose on Earth. When the world begins to panic in fear, Louise and Ian must communicate with these beings to stop a global catastrophe.

Although the premise is suggestive of a huge action film, Arrival is subtle and subdued, provoking emotional questions about life and family. That being said, director Denis Villenuve makes room for some of the most groundbreaking visuals of the entire year. On top of that, the plot revelations are far more than gimmicks, strengthening the overall story.

Amy Adams has always been one of the best actresses working in the buisiness, and her role here may be her best to date, charinging the character with intelligence and wit, matched with emotional depth that feels surprisingly genuine for a sci-fi film. Jeremy Renner is similarly great here, and his completed character arc adds more to the film as it concludes. Strong supporting roles from Forest Whitaker and Michael Stuhlburg are also impressive, but this is clearly Adams’s film.

Arrival is dazzling, captivating cinema, pushing the boundaries of what science fiction can do with storytelling, featuring one of the best performances of the year by Amy Adams. Denis Villenueve has certified himself as one of the best directors out there, as Arrival is a future classic. Grade: A+

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