Arrival (2016) – Denis Villeneuve Blu-Ray Review

Anyone who follows this blog knows I am passionate about my science fiction cinema, but that doesn’t mean it’s always good. Therefore when a smart piece of sci-fi film making comes along, I feel I have to champion it, to cheer it on, revel in it, and share it with all who will listen.

Villeneuve’s brilliant film is smart science fiction, and storytelling at its best. It explores humanity, language, communication, time and love through a unique lens. I stand by every word of my original review, as found here.

When word came down on a release date from Paramount Pictures for a home release, I got very excited, as I was not only eager to see the film once again, I also got giddy over what would be included in terms of extras on the disc.

So this past weekend, I curled up on the couch and dove back into the fantastic world first created by Ted Chiang’s tale, “The Story of Your Life,” fantastically adapted to the screen by Eric Heisserer.

The picture, sound, story, everything about the experience that made it stand out for me in the theatre is here, surviving the transition to big screen theatre to the home version. Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker and Mark O’Brien captivate the viewer as they explore our own human nature and concepts of causality and language as they lead the vanguard of scientists encountering an alien species, the Hectapods, for the first time.

Grand storytelling from Villeneuve allows for both epic world-rending scenes and heartfelt, telling glimpses into the human soul.

Smart science fiction of this nature doesn’t pander to the audience, doesn’t dumb down its storytelling. Instead, it respects the viewer, believing that they will understand the concepts and the ideas behind the film, and perhaps generate conversations as well. Don’t even get me started on circular nature now, I loved how that was explores in this film!

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The extras are fairly solid, all shot in high definition. I think a commentary would have been a welcome addition, but the bonus features are very strong. They include a half hour look into the making of the film, which pointed out things I had subconsciously realised in the film but hadn’t made the leap to cognisant thought.

Alongside the making of, is a documentary on the sound design, which, again, only adds a deeper appreciation of the film, and also indicates why we perceive some of the things on the screen as we do.

There is a brief look into the film’s unique, otherworldly score by Johann Johannsson, and seeing how its creation interacts with visuals of the film.

Finally there was my favourite piece, which explores the principles of time, memory and language. This one really fired up the imagination.

And that is what good science fiction, nay, good storytelling does, it fires the imagination, it creates questions and dialogues, it lets us look at things in a new way, and perhaps understand ourselves better.

Arrival ended up being one of my favourite films last year, and whether it wins the Best Picture Academy Award or not, it heralds the return of smart science fiction and thought-provoking storytelling.

Check out Arrival from Paramount Pictures today on DVD and Blu-Ray.

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