Though I love sci-fi films, I had stayed away from this film because of my dislike of Amy Adams. And I wish I hadn’t stayed away, because I loved the film (though I do think another actress could have been better). While watching the film I did have some issues with film, but honestly the film answered those issues and by the end I understood why the choices had been made. And the film is obviously an homage to 2001 a Space Odyssey as the films of Terrance Malek (mostly in the photography of the flashbacks), and since I love those films it works for me. The science fiction story of this film just blew me away, and nakes this film a must watch.
The film begins with linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) dealing with her daughter slowly dieing from an incurable cancer over a period of years. Her husband has left her and she deals with alone, being with her on her deathbed in a hospital. Now Louise heads to her lecture on linguistics at university, not paying attention to all the students gathered around TV’s. And there are only 4 students in her class, and her lecture is quickly disrupted by phone calls and texts. 12 Alien Spacecraft have appeared around the planet at random places, large monolith like ships hovering over the Earth. When she returns home, US Army Colonel GT weber (Forest Whitaker) waiting in her house for her. They recruit her to act as a linguist in talking to the Aliens that have landed over Montana.
REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS…
Louise will be sharing the responsibilities with theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) and they are to go communicate with Alien heptapods. They can do this for a certain period each day, journeying into the gravity controlled ship where they walk up the walls and communicate through glass. They nickname the 2 heptapods Abbot and Costello. Immediately Louise realized they will never understand their sounds, and she starts with written communication. The heptapods write in a circular language and they write complete thoughts at once in a black substance they expell from their hands.
Louise begins becoming adept at their kanguage and starts having vivid dreams of her daughter.
Around the world, things are getting worse and worse, especially with China who seems to be becoming openly hostile to the Aliens, though from an intercepted communication they seem to have figured out how to communicate using Chinese chess, which would make communications all adversariel. Russia and other countries are becoming hostile as well, and sharing between nations is falling apart, as is policing around the world as riots and looting happen.
Rogue military men in Montana plant bombs in the communication room to try and kill the aliens, as Louise and Ian go to see the aliens to try to determine if what the Aliens are offering is in fact a weapon or a tool. The aliens give a huge message that is one part of 12 given around the world, but then the bombs go off, though Abbott expells them saving them, at the cost of his own life.
Louise awakens as they are planning to evacuate and start hostile actions against the Aliens. Ian has worked out that the Aliens are trying to get everyone to work together, but China is about to attack.
The Alien ships stay, but move higher. Lousie sneaks out and rushes to the ship where an Alien pod takes her to the ship and into the Aliens portion with Costello who tells her Abbot is dying.
Louise learns that her visions of her daughter which she hasn’t had yet, are being caused by her understanding of their language which is rewriting her brain and causing her to perceive time non-linearly as they do. And that the Alien weapon or tool is their language, which will change their perception of time, and they are doing it because the need humanities help in 3000 years.
Louise returns to the camp and has a vision of herself in the Future at a United Nations reception, where the Chibese General Shang (Tzi Ma) thanks her for bringing the world together, he gives her his personal number, and tells her the message she called him with to convince him. She then steals a sat phone and with Ian’s help calls Shang and stops the conflict, and the Alien spacecraft leave.
Ian asks her if she wants to make a baby, and she agrees, though she knows they will have a child who will die, and he will leave her, but it is worth the good times.
Wow! I loved realizing that the visions of the kid were in the future, thanks to Hannah (her name being the same backwards and forward) drawing a picture of her mom and dad talking to animals with the bird in a cage, just as they had when Ian and Louise talked To the aliens with a bird to check the atmosphere. So well done and it answered why Ian was in the movie as I could see no real point to his character, because it is so much Louise’s film, but since he was the husband it all makes sense!
Sure it might have been better on a lower budget without such name actors. And the dull flat color correct of the presentday bothered me especially against the vibrant visions of Hannah done so in Malicks style, though it was obviously a choice. And the Aliens looked too much like hands to me. That being said I love all the stuff about time, seeing alltime at once. Especially knowing that for photons time stands still!
Very cool. Loved it!