- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2017

Director Denis Villeneuve (“Sicario”) turns Ted Chiang’s sci-fi short story into a critically acclaimed and Academy Award-nominated blockbuster in Arrival (Paramount Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, 116 minutes, 2.39:1 aspect ratio, $48.99).

It’s now available for viewers who have embraced the latest evolution of home-theater experiences.

Actress Amy Adams carries the emotional and cerebral baggage as linguist Louise Banks as the film explores what happens to humanity when extraterrestrials visit Earth.

Living through the tragic loss of her daughter, Ms. Banks, with help from theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), are tasked with communicating with an extraterrestrial race dubbed the “Heptapods,” who have multiple ships hovering over the planet.

A complex system of language is revealed through the visitors, and Miss Adams must crack the code and learn their intentions before suspicious leaders from around the world attack the massive spaceships.



Mr. Villeneuve’s team and cast gives us an insightful film but also a frightening view of humanity, displaying the worst of mankind through violent protests, war mongering and lack of trust in any government dictating policy about the aliens. It’s an all too-potent reflection of today’s fearful society.

Not offering the frantic popcorn-munching possibilities of “Independence Day,” heartwarming meeting in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” or horrifying moments of “Signs,” “Arrival” instead gives viewers a welcomed dose of intellectual science fiction that Arthur C. Clark or Isaac Asimov would embrace.

4K UHD in action: It took the technological might of ultra high-definition and sparks from a high dynamic range infusion to bring cinematographer Bradford Young’s often dreary and drab cinematic universe to vivid life.

And, that only happens occasionally. Viewers will appreciate the initial view of the alien craft posed against a stunning, sweeping view of rolling cloudbanks, as well as the final close encounter with the Heptapods.

However, the picture was often a tad too dark for my taste and splashes of color (such as in the orange hazardous material suits and Miss Adams‘ penetrating blue eyes) not near enough to keep the peepers mesmerized.

“Arrival” is not a poster child for taking the plunge into the UHD universe, but it offers the sharpest view of the movie available. That could be a good or bad thing depending on the director’s vision.

Best extras: Of the five featurettes available (clocking in at around 90 minutes in total), viewers will most appreciate the 15-minute segment looking at the theoretical science behind the movie.

Specifically, a quick primer on the variational principles of physics and Sapir–Whorf hypothesis of linguistic relativity featuring interviews with Mr. Chiang, physicist Stephan Wolfram and linguist Jessica Coon.

Viewers will need to stay focused while watching the segment as it delves into the class of equations for defining physical phenomena, time-symmetric laws of physics, and the goal-oriented understanding of physical systems and language commonality.

I suggest taking notes and have a laptop handy to completely digest some of the heavy-duty theories presented.

Additionally, I enjoyed the 30-minute overview of the production, with words from Mr. Villeneuve, Mr. Chiang, Miss Adams and other key production personnel; brief looks at the creation of the aliens, spaceships and hazmat suits; and the development of the Heptapod language.

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