My Cultural Diet

356 reviews of movies, TV shows, books, restaurants, etc. My own private Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp all rolled into one (more info here). Ratings are 100% subjective, non-scientific, and subject to change. May contain affiliate links.

4.5 out of 5 stars


When is an alien invasion movie not an alien invasion movie? When that movie is Arrival. Sure it features aliens arriving on Earth, their plans and schemes a mystery. Are they a threat? What are their plans for humanity? But the movie is primarily about attempts to communicate with the aliens and understand their bizarre language, attempts that lead to some surprising results. I watched the first 15 minutes or so the other night, and was instantly entranced. Denis Villeneuve’s directing is masterful and assured, elements necessary for a movie that’s essentially about translating a (very) foreign language. The scene where our main characters first see the massive alien vessel in person, as they fly over a massive crowd, then an abandoned road, and then the fog-enshrouded plain where the vessel stands — all the while accompanied by Jóhann Jóhannsson’s (RIP) otherworldly score — is one of my favorites. I watched this with my kids, and it was fun asking my 15-year-old what he thought of the film’s overarching themes concerning death, existence, and free will. These are heady topics, but Arrival handles them with grace and poignancy.

Return to the Opus homepage