Review: Arrival

Review by Dash Wilson.


Twelve unidentified flying objects enter earth’s orbit randomly placing themselves around the globe without any known reason or motive.

Let it be known, I am a big fan of director Denis Villeneuve (Sicario, Prisoners, Enemy). In Arrival though, it is cinematographer Bradford Young ASC (Selma, A Most Violent Year) that seems to shine. The soaring panoramic landscapes with the unidentified pods hovering above are awe inspiring to watch. Likewise, the scenes inside in the pods are lit to perfection. The use of light, without it seeming cliché, and contrasts of black and white are stunning to see on the big screen.

This was a near faultless film for me. The only negative (and someone in the art or special effects department needs to be fired for it) is the aliens themselves. It is the age old story where we see just a little too much of them. Why do all aliens on film look ‘the same’ when no one has actually ever seen one.

Without doubt though, Arrival is the film Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar should have been. I would strongly argue it’s one of the best science-fiction films of the last ten years. Amy Adams, who has been overlooked for a best actress Oscar, brings an emotional depth to this film – it really is her performance that makes this film as good as it is. The way Adam’s communicates with the aliens with symbols is hypnotic, beautiful and at times heart racing.

This is a film that makes you think. So few films these days give the audience credit for having a brain and the ability to think for themselves.  Villeneuve and Young have successfully done this. Films like Arrival should be treasured and awarded. It is big, bold, thought provoking and highly enjoyable at the same time.


Reviewing all five films nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 2017, Dash Wilson is a film-lover based in Brisbane and is the resident Film Critic for Australian Cinematographer Magazine.

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