Most movies are underwhelming to me. Remakes. Weak adaptations. Shallow concepts. Cheap CGI. The movie industry realizes that people are far more likely to spend money on what is familiar than what is innovative, and so it often chooses not to take a risk. Let’s just do Rocky 34 instead of coming up with something new!
Arrival is an exception to this trend. One YouTube video essay that I like called it the “response to bad movies” and I can’t agree more. It is unlike most movies you will ever see, captivating and beautiful, challenging the viewer’s expectations by turning the world on it’s side (even the shape and position of the alien space ships, long and upright, undermine our expectations!) The movie messes with time and language to create something that is in one sense overwhelming complex and confusing while watching, and yet elegantly simple at its core. Like the picture of a puzzle, unclear and allusive when just a pile of pieces, it is not until the final piece is put into place that the individual pieces have any meaning… but without those individual pieces, there would be no whole.
If you haven’t seen it yet, I cannot recommend it enough to you. At this point in time, Arrival is my favorite movie. I’ve seen it half-a-dozen times (twice in theatres, in fact) and it never ceases to move me. I get chills even thinking about it now. Because so much of the movie rests on how the movie ends, it might be good to watch it first before listening to the podcast, but that’s up to you. Just know that we hold nothing back in this episode, and spoilers are plentiful!