If you're considering seeing the movie Arrival, and you HAVEN'T read the story it's based on (Ted Chiang's "Story of Your Life"), I would strongly recommend you keep it that way until after you've seen the movie. Because I've read the story and it definitely got in the way—I mean, I can't guarantee the movie would have attained cohesiveness if I hadn't, but it's getting very good reviews, so I think more likely, at least.
I'm glad it exists as an example of successful smaller-scale prestige SF, and I'm glad I saw it, but more to be up on the conversation than because it really worked for me.
SPOILERS, all the spoilers, both for story and movie.
I realize if you're not making a short film you need more plot, but I have an almost complete inability to comprehend time travel-adjacent plots and I have no idea, none whatsoever, what the hell was supposed to be happening with the Chinese general subplot.
It's a little bit cheating to not age Louise up at all in the scenes of her daughter's death, making it easier for the audience to mistake those for past memories. Also I don't think it was a good choice to change it from an accident to a rare illness, or to have her tell the father after the daughter (here named Hannah) was born (edit rest of this paragraph on rereading), or to have Louise ask the father whether he'd change anything if he knew his whole life from beginning to end, because these raise questions of consent and free will that the story views as impossible and therefore irrelevant, and implies that her choice was "worth it," something she specifically says she doesn't know in the story ("But am I working toward an extreme of joy, or of pain? Will I achieve a minimum, or a maximum?"). Wow, those are much bigger changes than I realized, and much more conventionally sentimental.
Regrettably, when the heptapods are first shown, all I could think was "Yip-yip-yip-yip." (Giving them a head-analogue toward the end was a mistake, as was having her in their atmosphere, it was needlessly mystical and also logistically ridiculous.)
Chad pointed out that he liked the heptapods better with entirely inscrutable motivations, which I think I agree with.
Ugh, I don't know, I thought it was blazing hot in the theater and Chad didn't, which is so exactly the reverse of our usual reactions that I may be having new and excitingly different symptoms in my cold, so I'm going to find some Tylenol and fall into bed. So this is far from useful but tomorrow is going to be ridiculously busy so I figured a few impressions now were better than nothing.
Oh, trailers, super-quick:
Allied: oh, look, Brad Pitt gets to angst over whether Marion Cotillard is secretly evil and whether he needs to kill her. Pass.
Nocturnal Animals: I have literally no idea what this is about.
Split: the trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's next movie is so stunningly offensive that I'm not linking to it or describing it.
Beauty and the Beast: why. Why does this exist.
incidents and accidents, hints and allegations
- Arrival (movie)
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