Arrival is a more intimate alien visitation story than most owing to its sensitive lead performance from Amy Adams (Man of Steel’s Lois Lane playing another lover of extraterrestrials) as a distinguished linguist drafted by the U.S. government to communicate with the occupants of one of twelve alien spaceships that land around the world. Kill the Messenger’s Jeremy Renner appears as the physicist who assists her. Arrival features some highly stressful and fascinating sequences, but loses a little steam as its bankrupt moralism becomes evident.
[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]
4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Arrival is:
5. Green. The extraterrestrials’ craft demonstrates that highly sophisticated technology can be developed to travel at high speeds without producing an ecological footprint.
4. Feminist. It is women with brains and feelings, not men with guns, who will win peace for the world, the film suggests. The protagonist’s daughter plays at being a sheriff, her mother having empowered her to believe that girls can fill traditionally masculine roles.
3. Neoconservative. Russia and China, not the U.S., threaten global security with their idiosyncratic saber-rattling. Mention is also made of the Amy Adams character having helped the military translate a recording of Farsi-speaking “insurgents”, connecting Iran with terrorism in audiences’ minds.
2. Pro-immigration. Arrival functions partly as an allegory about western anxieties of demographic displacement. This subtext is made explicit when the viewer is treated to an excerpt of a blowhard conservative talk show host complaining about the alien presence. Lucky for Earth, the undocumented ones come bearing the gift of advanced parapsychological technology.
1. Globalist. Renner’s physicist feels – correctly, as it turns out – that the earth’s safety depends on his work with Adams rather than anything the military can do. It is sensitive, scholarly anti-racist academics to whom the world must look in order to understand immigrants’ needs and desires and the ways in which all beings’ interests are intertwined. The appropriately octopus-like Heptapods – reminiscent of the Twelve Tribes of Israel – visit the planet in twelve massive ships in order to gift humanity with their nonlinear, brain-reconfiguring language, a sort of intergalactic Esperanto through which a one-world order will be brought about. Something vague is said about how the Heptapods will collect on the debt in 3,000 years, at which point something akin to a horrible plague will develop. Screenwriter Eric Heisserer thereby seems to acknowledge that the “gift” of globalism will ultimately result in decay and death of the host, but seems to expect the viewer to feel that the joy of experiencing nation-erasing Jew World Order parasitism will somehow be worth the price.