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Arrival Movie Review (2016) | Denis Villeneuve Helms a Masterpiece

Wonderstruck! Dumbfounded! Arrival movie confounds you as it crushes dams of conventions. It is the arrival of a change, a different outlook at the word ‘alien’. So many movies we have seen hitherto, all showing aliens in an ugly limelight, branding them destroyers, marauders or invaders. It used to paint the same old picture with its destructive cliches.

Arrival movie changes everything. Your perception about strangers in our land. It stresses on the fact they could be here for a reason other than war. The movie unfolds gorgeously from a stupefying elusive pickle into a mind-boggling explosive revelation. That’s the entire driving force on which Arrival runs.

Direction of Arrival Movie

Denis Villeneuve stays highly revered in my head owing to all the uncanny topics he picks. He isn’t afraid to experiment, takes bold awe-inspiring risks and literally fuels avant-garde cinema. His direction abounds with intelligence that nips at our traditions of perceiving movies. He challenges us to think, knocking us out of our comfort zone. It’s ballsy, different and simply remarkable. Something we don’t see everyday in cinema today. Primarily because such films vexes many, and then all the movies end up becoming nothing but moderate crowd-pleasers. But this man right here, never ceases to take risks.

still of Amy Adams as Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner as Ian Donnelly in Arrival movie

In particular I love how Denis Villeneuve imparts tranquil focus to his frames. Everything happens for a reason. It merges and overlaps with wistful thinking and asks of you to do the same. In those momentary transitions you are forced to hear your thoughts, you think of the possibilities and given his reputation try to envision the figurative side of the story.

Plot of the Arrival Movie (Minor Spoilers Ahead)

Created on a story by Ted Chiang titled ‘Story of Your Life‘ the movie runs beautifully making up stunning placid frames for its plot. To understand the movie truly you must get this first: There is no definite order! It is a ragbag of tenses. And Denis, the genius he is, intermingles them often supersedes them brilliantly amongst each other. The main theme goes like this:

Louise Banks is an insanely gifted linguist who is sought after by a US Army Colonel to communicate with alien spaceships that have landed on Earth. She meets physicist Ian Donnelly who has also been hired to accompany her for the job.

still of alien letters and symbols from Arrival movie

I loved how Denis decided to show repercussions of alien arrival. Betwixt his poised frames we get to see our world flame up in chaos, even though all alien ships did was stand still on our ground. The contextual insinuations that human mind read are beyond our grasp. It goes on to show how humans are akin bubbles waiting to explode with a mere instigation without comprehending the what, the why and the how of a situation.

What then follows is constant prodding in order to understand the language of the aliens to figure out their true purpose of visit. The final revelation is so huge (and yes it has time theory entailed) that I have decided to pen a separate article to expound it better. But really, you need to watch it to experience that climactic relentless pile driver yourself.

You can pre-order Arrival movie here:


Music and Screenplay

The music of Arrival has been given by none other than 2 times Oscar nominee Johann Johannsson himself.  It is beautifully done, you have to live it to truly experience it. It being an art movie, limited words get spoken. But those that are there try to expand how huge the subject of language is. Also, there are pretty cool one-liners that don’t fail to titillate your ears every now and then. Like when Ian Donnelly confesses:

You know I’ve had my head tilted up to the stars for as long as I can remember. You know what surprised me the most? It wasn’t meeting them. It was meeting you.

What also constantly elevates the movie is an artful performance by Amy Adams. Being the lead protagonist, the driving force, the film basically revolves all around her. If it weren’t for her, things would have been really different. A nod to the movie casting there! Great Job.

The Final Verdict

Arrival is not for everybody. I learnt this the hard way as I was compelled to hear two of my friends, who accompanied me to watch the movie, snore profusely throughout the movie. It was ‘their’ loss of course. Because it was only by the time we reach the end that we get to learn the colossal secret. It wraps up beautifully around the concept that eludes us throughout. It almost brings back memories from Christopher Nolan‘s magnum opus Interstellar movie.

Read Interstellar movie review.

You know what else really makes me happy? It is the director’s next colossal project. It is none other than Denis Vileneuve himself who helms the Blade Runner sequel with Jared Leto and Harrison Ford in the vanguard. Can’t wait for that one as well.

You can check out the trailer of Arrival movie here:

Bajirao Mastani Review (2015)

Bajirao Mastani is a charred historical saga fossilized under the Indian beds of parochial rules. Bajirao was a mighty warrior pestered by his own internal wars and trampled over as a social pariah.

SLB is all about the big and the rambunctious. So he took the epic project of helming the lost mercenary. The Peshwa who was on his way to rule India, but was deliberately slowed down by his fumed relationships, muck amplified more by societal manacles and religious hindrances, than by his own reckless head.

Ranveer aces the character of Bajirao to perfection. With his natural fluency that never leaves him for a second, a Marathi touch that jackhammers every raised voice with a witty comeback or an intervened split, he wears power with confidence. He is flamboyant in his ways, phlegmatic in his attitude towards a situation, and sheer terror when it comes to threatening his enemies. He dons a natural flair and applies it to everything he does something which is quite rare in Indian cinema.

That being said, SLB isn’t all quilts either. He does focus on crucial bits in the movie, however overlooks the apparent, taking the audience for granted at times. Like all the fight scenes in the flick are quite mediocre and over-exaggerated. If you are not in the rhythm of the movie, they would all seem almost indigestible. But oddly he cashes in on the audience’s emotional frequency and creates a superhuman that was a lost face in history.

The pace of the movie is outrageously fast, that does raise brows at its editing. You almost want to take a pit-stop to breathe, but then comes gorgeous conversations. Crucial, gut-wrenching dialogues that put the saddle back on the horse. The conversation between Mastani and Kashibai and the one between Kashibai and Bajirao before he goes to war (Heads up for that Krishna-Rukmini bit), hammer the nail further down your heart. Extremely stunning talks that reek of human impotency to set broken things right again!

The ending of the movie, which could have been smacked by a George R. R. Martin blow, ends up getting stretched beyond limit so that emotional Indian audiences connect. At times, the right emotions appear missing from every character’s face. There isn’t love and yet love is supposed to be there. So, we have to assume, since they weren’t exactly looking smitten.

If all of the above negative aforementioned vibes get overlooked, Bajirao Mastani ends up being a complete package. You can’t just ignore its soothing screenplay that is filled with brilliant dialogues and intercepting comebacks. They are witty, well thought of, and well researched. Some are quite cheesy as well, but they have been all mastered and well executed by the actors.

Bajirao Ballal ends as a true hero avalanched under the ruins of his own deeds. He lost one of the most crucial wars of his life, the mental one, as steeds race past him and his deadly blade, in his contorted head and he drowns a mortal instead of an immortal unstoppable warrior.

Every penny worth epic!

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 Review (2015)

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 aptly concludes the saga.

“You love me. Real or not real?”

The aforesaid escapes Peeta’s lips when he is trying to isolate real memories from the contorted ones. “Real” replies a reassured Katniss as she seeks comfort in Peeta’s arms. The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is an epic finale and a brilliant conclusion to a colossal tale. It all ends right here. Everything boils down to a twisted devious plot well executed by Francis Lawrence. Complemented him a great closure that came winging straight from the rad Suzanne Collins’ book.

Francis helms a beauty of a movie as he sluggishly walks unfurling the gorgeous plot piece by piece taking the bad-ass score at apt junctures. You could almost tell how much effort has been put into the film-making. Every frame is superbly cut, and changed aptly with the right background score for emphasis. Like a scene where Katniss hugs Primrose and the camera revolves around them leaving only music and their eyes to do the talking. So many such gorgeous frames are imbibed in the flick that can’t just go unnoticed.

The drama is great just like its predecessors with Jennifer doing a lot of work to hit the right emotions. Screenplay keeps getting better with every progressive line. Both Danny and Peter did a great job squeezing out the right words.

Pods in the Mockingjay – Part 2 are thrilling to watch. Surprises are strewn all over the Capitol, and things become quite daunting for the team. Mutts in the movie are terrifying. The fight scenes that follow their inclusion are pretty dope too. If you are looking for action, then that is how little you will get to be really frank. But that’s what the saga has always been about. The story! Period.

The final bits leave you asking for more. I have never really liked epilogues. The fact that it is all going to get over soon makes me sad. Like any other franchise that has reached a dead end, The Hunger Games too gradually slips into oblivion which is disheartening.

Anyways, if you have been an avid Hunger Games fan all this time this epic finale can’t be missed. Go for it!