Pop quiz hotshot: what does Arrival have in common with Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure?
For the vast majority of its duration, this was really good, hard sci-fi. I can see the comparisons to Contact although this was a much more personal film, almost to the point of showing you too little about the arrival and their impact on the world. Keeping it personal (by that I mean wholly focussed on our two leads with only snippets of what's happening around them) worked fantastically well, especially when you have Adams and Renner on such good form and when the main thrust of the story is revealed, its a brilliant curveball, linking in so many of the scenes you've already seen with the science of linguistics in a way which was really clever but not in a smug, know-it-all way.Remember in the police station as the boys were trying to free their historical dudes, they went forward in time, planted the cell keys for them to find in the present and BOOM! Instant handy plot device.....thus proving somewhat of a cop out. There, it was amusing and worked. Here? Well, to be honest as much as I liked the film I feel slightly cheated by its use here. Having the flashbacks be flashforwards was a great reveal, a really clever one linking it to the language and the throw away line earlier about 'rewiring your brain to understand a new language'.......but did they have to reveal it in that cheap Bill and Ted-esque plot of ringing the Chinese General on a number she didn't have to say words she didn't know.......but she saw them in the future? Gah. For me, it detracted from the wider issue of Louise's story and knowing what she did about Hannah, would and should she still go through with the life that she saw? Far more interesting, and to be honest in keeping with the rest of the film. But I digress.....
Apart from my issue mentioned in spoilers, I thought this was really good. The design of the craft and the aliens themselves, the language which became as much a character as anyone else, all seemed to just 'work'. And come the end, I wanted to know more about what I'd just seen (so many questions.......!), but didn't feel cheated that I didn't. I don't think it was one of the best films of last year, but as a piece of grounded sci-fi, this was an intelligent, thought provoking piece, played well by everyone involved, that is well worth checking out.......just make sure you haven't seen Bill and Ted beforehand!
That there other forum is all a fluster with comments about how dark the UHD was. And yes, it is. Especially on my (non-HDR, regular 1080p) PJ. But too dark? Nope. I can see how it was designed to be dark - sparse bulbs lighting temporary tents are never going to be dazzling - and personally I thought it still looked really rather good. Nice details levels (not top tier but pretty darn spiffy), clean as a whistle and the dark palette looking nicely realistic and natural. I do think that there won't necessarily be much improvement over the standard BD, but surely this format is just like BD? There'll always be stellar transfers.......and some that aren't quite. I'm slightly disappointed that there's no immersive audio track on this, but the lossless 7.1 track that is on there is really quite good. There's not a lot of whizz bang moments to it, but it has bags of LFE when needed and the all important dialogue is always nicely rendered. Worth mentioning again that this didn't have an immersive audio track in cinema's so again, we're only getting what was presented in theatres.
Summary - really good, realistic sci-fi, a great companion piece to Contact (although probably not quite as good for me), its well played, designed and with a really nice and clever hook and reveal, bringing in much broader themes such as choice and destiny. A slight mis-step on the world at war plot doesn't derail it, nor does the not quite as shiny as some may have expected audio and video on the UHD. Still massively recommended.
Arrival User Review
Intelligent sci-fi is a rarity so embrace this even if its not quite as good as all the reviews say.....Review of Arrival UHD Blu-ray by Coz22998, Mar 3, 2017.This item was purchased for £18 (UHD disc only) from eBay - seller: Carmenymario in 2017. The reviewer still owns this product.