There’s something about being high at a movie theater that the act of Netflix-and-chilling at home cannot duplicate. There’s the convenient array of snack choices (expensive, but worth it), enormous screens, the swell of music, the communal act of experiencing a story alongside a bevy of strangers. The powerful combined effects of theater treats, sounds and images break upon your stoned head like a tidal wive, practically drowning you in visceral sensation. At least that’s what it’s like for me. You should definitely try it, if you haven’t.
Dennis Villeneuve’s “Arrival” (starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner) is playing in Durango now. This is what you could call a cerebral, “thinking man’s” sci-fi, replete with few action-packed moments but many that pulsate with otherworldly suspense. When huge black spaceships descend and hover over 12 locations on planet Earth, linguistics professor Louise Banks (Adams) is chosen to help communicate with the alien visitors and figure out the intentions behind their arrival.
Don’t expect battles between humans and snarl-toothed monstrosities like those from the “Alien” franchise. These aliens are definitely frightening – they are enormous and squid-like, floating on the other side of a transparent barrier once the humans enter their spacecraft – but they are not necessarily sinister. With Louise as linguist rather than a scientist or world-leader, “Arrival” is more about communication and language than terror or conflict with foreign species. The visitors speak by way of inky, circular images released from their tentacles, and Louise must find a way to decipher this, all while contending with the intricacy of words, which have different and varied meanings.
There is a grave danger in misinterpreting these aliens, as humans constantly do each other: The other nations where the aliens have touched down are distrustful of the creatures, interpreting some of what they’ve said as threatening or hostile. China prepares to nuke their craft, and Russia follows suit. The CIA and other government officials string up red tape around Louise, hoping to accelerate her gentle methods.
Do you think all the nations of our world could work together against extraterrestrial invaders, especially with our new president-elect leading the way? Let’s hope we never find out. There is thankfully no Trump in “Arrival,” but there’s a Chinese dictator who certainly bears some resemblance.