Arrival, Interstellar, and why we go to the movies.

Some movies make you say “wow” a few times while you watch in awe the ending credits roll. They leave you with the feeling that you’ve just witnessed something great. Denis Villeneuve‘s Arrival was definitely one of them for me.

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Saint-Fabien, Québec. Arrival was filmed entirely in La Belle Province.

A near perfect cinema experience

The dark and gloomy atmosphere keeps you right in that slightly uncomfortable mood throughout the film. The clean and crisp approach to most setups, especially the vessel chamber, is powerful. The symmetry in the shots leading up to the main characters’ first encounter with the aliens makes it the most memorable scene. And no need to talk about the chilling sound effects, which got them 2 of their 8 Oscar nominations. It all makes you want to finish your popcorn as fast as possible to direct your full attention at the screen!

But where Arrival succeeds the most is in the flow of the film. It is slow paced, but captivating. At no moment did my mind wonder around (which is saying a lot). Denis Villeneuve gives you just enough about the aliens to keep you thinking. It pushes you to look for answers while the stunning visuals remind you to just enjoy the show.

Unfortunately, as we move forward, the strength of the movie becomes its weakness. The answers are given all chewed up to the audience, leaving little to no space for interpretation or further discussion among movie goers. That’s the main thing that really bothered me in an otherwise thrilling film.

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Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner play the language teacher and scientist in charge of communicating with the Heptopods.

Interstellar and the tv screen

Arrival reminded me a lot of Interstellar, a film that gave me that same “wow” feeling when I walked out of the theater a year earlier. Observing similarities between the two, I decided to watch Nolan’s sci-fi epic for a 2nd time around. With a much more open-to-questioning finale, I must admit I appreciated the story line better that time. That’s something a second viewing of Arrival (yes, I did) failed to deliver because of the reasons stated above.

However, my 32 inch tv and home sound system just couldn’t give justice to the stunning visuals and mesmerizing orgue inspired soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. It made me think of the “Go big or stay home” Guzzo opening video.

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Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) on the frozen Mann planet, in Interstellar.

We’ve often talked about the evolution of how we watch movies. With way too many titles hitting the big screen, sometimes staying on for only a few weeks, we are left with a decision: Will I watch it in theaters or wait for it to come to the Netflix of this world?

It might be a cliché, but it isn’t less true: for films like Arrival, it would be a shame to miss the big screen experience. So don’t let them come to you, make the first move, and go to the movies!

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