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Review: Arrival (2016) Posted Oct 30, 2018

I saw Arrival last night. I saw Arrival last night and now I feel strange. I finished dinner, I booted up my PC to play slots, and then decided I wanted to watch a film. My good friend saw Arrival when it came out in 2016, and he found it to be brilliant. I had watched Ex Machina recently, which also had a strange effect on me afterwards – though I loved it – and wanted to watch something that went by a similar theme. I had heard that Arrival was about some aliens who came down to earth, and that the best people to try to understand them were linguists. I wasn’t really given much more information than that. However, after watching it, I found it deeply affecting and infinitely layered too, which is always a good sign for a film. Here are the main things I found interesting about the film. Don’t forget to come and spin the slots at Wizard.


A lot of alien films often go super complex with the rendering of what an alien or an alien spacecraft might look like. If you take the famous examples such as Star Wars and Star Trek, or even Alien, the aliens and their what they travel in/where they live often has either some kind of primitive theme or some kind of futuristic industrial theme. Well, Arrival didn’t go down this route. The aesthetic in Arrival was clean, crisp, and beautiful. The craft the aliens came in looked like a wonderfully smooth, slightly elongated pebble – the kind you might expect to find in an almost freezing, tranquil, untouched lake in Canada, with crystal clear water. Imagine that, on a huge scale, about the size of a large tower block. And it floated elegantly, just above the surface of the earth. The main alien craft focused on in the film was in America, on a vast, flat, open plane in Georgia. The whole aesthetic was sumptuous.

Attitude to Aliens

The film, whilst being on the surface about aliens from another world, was wrapped up in metaphor and themes of the foreign and the unknown. The key theme throughout was that of trying to understand these aliens and what they were on earth for. Because of the lack of understanding, there was an implicit threat, or at least that’s what the humans displayed, because of a lack of understanding. The unknown is threatening. This is something the film was trying to tackle. It was attempting to deconstruct this surface emotive reaction to the unknown, and to promote patience and understanding over violence.

Importance of Language

The conduit for understanding is language, and the film explored this interestingly. The person best placed to accommodate and attempt communication with the alien visitors was a linguist. Eventually, she discovered that the unknown written language the aliens were using to communicate was different to any other language. When you understood their language, you were able to perceive their understanding of time as well, which was non-linear. Thus, if you understood their language, you could see into the future as well as the past.

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