Arrival (2016) - 4 out of 4
A good while back there was a thread on ReelViews whose title was: "Things you'd like to see happen before you die"
My contribution to the thread was this: I want extra-terrestrial contact. Basically, I have lost all hope in humanity. I think we are beyond redemption as a race. We are consumed our petty differences and squabble about nonsensical topics like race, religion etc. while the world crumbles around us. The best minds in humanity are sidelined by idiotic bureaucracy.
My belief at the time was - and still is - that we can only be saved if another species forced us to unite as a singular species.
I am not sure if many of you would even remember that thread, let alone my post from it. But I do. I also remember that @Ken had a typically eloquent and thought-provoking response to it. His point being we were a relatively young species that still had a long way to go in the time-frame of the universe. And that there was still hope for us because we still had some brilliant minds among us (scientists, engineers, doctors etc).
I only bring it all up because I was unable to get that thread and discussion out of my head as I was watching Arrival. This film is essentially that conversation put on-screen. But saying it like that does it a great disservice. Arrival is so much more than a film about aliens arriving on Earth. But really am not in a position to contemplate about anything else the film has to say because I still haven't fully comprehended those other aspects of the film.
Like @Steven said, this film couldn't have come at a better time. With Brexit and Trump happening in the same year, a film about understanding aliens takes on a whole new level of significance.
I am not sure about my favorite scene in the film. That first meeting is something else really. But so is the second meeting where Louise first tries to converse properly. And so is the final conversation that @KWRoss was talking about. Really this film is filled to the brim with scenes that you'll find hard to get out of your head. In this day and age, that is not something you can often say about our films.
No other film since Nolan's last two non-Batman films has made me feel this way as I left the theater. When Arrival ended, I sat in a daze as the end-credits rolled on, contemplating the meaning of what I'd just seen. It's not until I actually came home that I returned to some semblance of normalcy.
This is the kind of film you go and watch a 2nd and a 3rd time simply because you're unable to forget it. Your brain keeps returning to questions you have about it. Why is this scene there in the film? What's the meaning of that dialogue? What is the director trying to say here? How many films have come out recently that can boast of eliciting the same feelings?
This is smart, thought-provoking science fiction, which also makes us contemplate our humanity and larger purpose. A must-see and without a doubt, one of the best films of 2016.