Stellar Arrival arrives on Blu-ray: review

Arrival 4K Ultra HD + Blu-rayCritically acclaimed sci-fi film Arrival has arrived on Blu-ray and Digital HD.

Based on the short story The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, the film follows linguistic professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and her efforts to learn the reason why 12 spacecrafts of an alien species referred to as Heptapods has suddenly landed on Earth. Leaders around the world are terrified and ready to respond with an attack if required while desperately collaborating to figure out the intentions of the alien “invaders.”

Under the supervision of U.S. military personnel such as Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), Louise is tasked to decipher the alien’s language and attempt communication with them to determine their purpose in visiting the planet. She is joined by physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), who aids her in her work.

Under immense pressure and threats of violent retaliation from world governments against the visitors, Louise and Ian race to understand what it is the Heptapods (affectionately dubbed Abbott and Costello by Louise and Ian) are after.

There’s more to the movie than that, however. Arrival is arguably one of the most thought-provoking and brilliantly executed sci-fi films in recent years.

Every once in awhile, Louise says something that makes you jolt upright, because you realize that not all is as it seems. The movie is so fascinating that you’ll find yourself leaning forward to make sure you don’t miss a thing. There’s a mystery here, and a twist that is breathtaking.

Having said that, the script and editing work diligently to ensure that the viewer is not lost in the technical and scientific theories presented in the film. The special features included with the Blu-ray copy of the movie are very useful in providing an idea of the research and effort required to bring the story and sound of the film and its alien characters to life, as well as giving further explanation to the thoughts and message of the film — a message that is as moving as it is necessary: that we need to continue to strive to communicate and be understood as well as understand one another, as well as embracing the idea that no matter the path of life, it is still one worth living to the best of our ability.

Overall, Arrival is an excellent addition to any cinephile’s collection — as the movie is as poignant as it is complex. There is no doubt that more ideas will emerge with any repeated viewing of the film, which arguably makes Arrival a soon-to-be sci-fi classic.

Special Features:

* In Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival, author Ted Chiang, director Denis Villeneuve and various team members from the cast and crew go over the complexities of the making of the film and the aliens as well as the theories behind the storyline.

* Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design features interviews with crew involved with bringing the sounds of the film and the voices of the Heptapods to life. Everything from the sound the alien ship makes to how the aliens talk themselves are discussed.

* In Eternal Recurrence: The Score, the film’s composer, Johann Johannsson, talks about how the circular manner in which the Heptapods communicate influenced his idea for the score of Arrival. He also discusses how he was inspired to come up with the various themes throughout the movie.

* Nonlinear Thinking: The Editorial Process contains an interview with the film’s editor, Joe Walker, who discusses the challenges of editing a film that contains two parallel stories merged into one.

* In Principles of Time, Memory & Language, the various complex theories behind the film are reviewed. Containing interviews with author Ted Chiang along with the film’s linguistic and scientific and engineering consultants, they discuss theories such as the Sapir-Worf hypothesis and variations on the principles of physics that contribute to the idea of time being non-linear — a key aspect of what inspired the story behind the film.

Seen Arrival? Click here to write your own review of the film. ~Alexa Caruso

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