tek's rating:

Arrival (PG-13)
Dread Central (2); FilmNation; IMDb; Paramount; Rotten Tomatoes; Stage6 Films; Templeton Gate; TV Tropes; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Hulu; iTunes; Vudu; YouTube

The movie begins with narration by the main character, Louise Banks (Amy Adams), talking about the life of her daughter, Hannah, who died in adolescence. During the narration, we see some brief scenes of Hannah growing up, from birth to death, so we get an idea of her relationship with her mother. (By the time she dies, just a few minutes into the movie, it really felt heartbreaking, in a way that reminded me of the opening of Up.)

After that, we see Louise as a language professor. One day, most of her class doesn't show up, and those who have come soon start getting texts, and one student asks her to turn on the TV. It turns out that twelve mysterious, huge objects have landed in random places around the world. Early speculation that they may be alien spacecraft soon turns out to be right. However, the aliens don't emerge from their ships. So the governments of all the different countries where they've landed each assemble teams to investigate and possibly communicate with the aliens. In America, Louise is recruited by an Army colonel named Weber (Forest Whitaker) to lead a team that's trying to communicate with the aliens (which have been dubbed "heptapods") within a ship that landed in Montana. He also recruits a physicist named Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), who ends up working closely with Louise.

We see some of their early efforts to translate the aliens' language, and Louise soon realizes it will be easier to translate a written language than a spoken one. (The way the aliens write, though, is quite different from how we do.) Eventually Louise and Ian figure out enough alien symbols to make a small database of words, though their meanings aren't perfectly understood. And it becomes increasingly important to establish meaningful communication with the heptapods, as tensions begin mounting around the world, when the various countries stop sharing information about their respective efforts, and the possibility arises that the aliens may want to provide advanced weapons to humanity, to fight amongst ourselves. Or... they might want something very different. Throughout all of this, Louise sometimes seems to be dealing with memories of her late daughter.

Well, beyond that, I don't want to spoil how things turn out. But I will say there's at least one major plot twist, which ties in with a majorly mind-bending sci-fi concept that is eventually revealed. I'm not sure it all makes perfect sense, but regardless, I thought it was quite fascinating. And I guess that's all I want to say.

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