ARRIVAL (2016) 5 Stars (out of 5)


On March 27, 1997, respected film critic Roger Ebert wrote a follow-up review of Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 masterpiece, — 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Ebert, who died in 2013, always felt that “2001” was one of the greatest films ever made.

In his 1997 analysis, he wrote that “the genius with Kubrick was not how much, but in how little. He reduces each scene to its essence, and leaves it on screen long enough for us to contemplate it, to inhabit it in our imaginations. Alone among science-fiction movies, “2001” is not concerned with thrilling us, but with inspiring our awe.”

For those of us old enough today to remember our own confusion and wonderment in watching this Stanley Kubrick film for the first time, you will have the same reaction to ARRIVAL. Yes, 2016 is not 1997, nor is it 1996, when “2001” was first released. Many who attended the original Hollywood premiere walked out of the movie long before it ended. Prehistoric apes? A large black obelisk? An ending Star Child? Hollywood icon Rock Hudson is credited with saying as he stormed out of the Pantages Theater, “Will someone tell me what the hell is this all about?”

Nearly fifty years later, moviegoers today no longer are confused, but the wonderment is still there. Today, mankind has gone to the moon and back and plans continue to make that first trip to Mars.

I doubt that any of us are so blind or so arrogant not to believe that life exists somewhere out in the vast universe. So, we approach ARRIVAL this month, and look forward to PASSENGERS — starring Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, next month. We are not alone.

ARRIVAL is about language and the ability to communicate. It is also a film that forces the audience to make note of time and place; shapes and images. This is a film that demands concentration. It is thought-provoking. Credit director Denis Villeneuve (SICARIO). Credit actress Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics professor specializing in rare translations; and actor Jeremy Renner as mathematician physicist Ian Donnelly. Adams is already on this film critic’s short list for Best Actress of the Year. The film also stars Forest Whitaker, who represents the seriousness of our military who views the aliens as our enemy.

Also credit the carefully constructed and extraordinarily intelligent screenplay written by Eric Heisserer. The script is based on Ted Chiang’s original 50-page Story of Your Life novella.

In “2001” the special effects from Donald Trumbull were based on an imaginary future. In ARRIVAL — science, technology and CGI bring a clearer picture of how alien life may travel; what they could look like and how they could communicate. In so many ways, ARRIVAL will blow your mind with the possibilities and the what-ifs. What is our place in the universe?

Oh — the philosophical discussions and questions you will have when the credits begin to roll. Some will talk about love. Some may talk about barriers. Others will certainly talk about destiny. And if we listen to the film’s director — in this Trump world we now live in — take the time to clarify intent before we act. Talk about ourselves and our own personal relationships.

Deep and rich, ARRIVAL is deserving of a perfect 5 Star review. Not to be missed!

The message of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY remains the same as what we watched in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and Robert Zemeckis’ CONTACT. Quoting one final time from the late Roger Ebert: “We became men when we learned to think. Our minds have given us the tools to understand where we live and who we are. Now it is time to move on to the next step, to know that we live not on a planet but among the stars, and that we are not flesh, but intelligence.”


This is the most exciting time of the year for any film critic. In the next week alone the Las Vegas Film Critics Society will be attending the screening of five new movies.

Next week, we are excited to review FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. Directed by David Yates. Screenplay by J.K. Rowling. Starring Eddie Redmayne. Shot in 3D IMAX.

For trailers and release dates of these and other Movies Coming Soon:


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