Arrival Blu-ray Review

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The Movie: 7/10
I really really really enjoyed the story of this movie. I loved the performances, the vibe, the tone, the abstract idea, the story telling style, all that was great. And then they made this movie LOOK LIKE SHIT! Seriously people, this muted grey thing is fine if you are using it with the contrasting visuals too, but they did not. There is not a time in this movie I was not thinking about how dull and muddy it looked. I appreciate natural lighting in movies, I really do. I like the idea of rooms flooded with sunlight, or indoor places barely lit with the kind of lights I would have around me in real life, instead of all the Hollywood lights. HOWEVER, this movie, this director and cinematographer made bad choices with the overall look of this movie and that’s such a shame.

Let me focus on the good stuff, and there is a lot. I did really enjoy the story. Aliens from another planet come to Earth and we don’t know what they want or why they are here. They don’t do anything, don’t blow up anything, don’t hurt anything, they are just here. We humans, of course, need to get to the bottom of it and all around the world out governments set up some kind of systems to get to know these visitors.

Our little corner of the planet, here in America have Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner who try to learn how to communicate with them. I would say two Hollywood stars are a good way to get things done:) She is a linguist, and he’s a scientist. They use lots of jargon and theories and ideas and it all comes at you pretty fast, but not so fast that you can’t keep up. The thing about this story is that it’s not told in that “linear” style we are all so used to with our movies. Remember Memento? Yea, this isn’t that, but it plays with time and I enjoyed that approach a lot. The overriding ideas of this movie are not new. I mean, when aliens come to our planet they always either want to enslave, steal our resources, use us a food, or save us from ourselves:) Or enslave us, use our resources, and use us as food. What else would folks from other galaxies want really? I mean, if they want funny t-shirts and jazz music, they are welcome to it, but that wouldn’t make a very interesting movie. I like how they turned an invasion into something a little different, if not a bit vague in the end.

I loved the pace and overall style of the directing, minus the terrible visual style, it got me to settle into my comfy chair with my blanket and popcorn and just go along with the whole thing as it played out. I like movies that don’t just rush everything or spell it all out for you at every turn. You do have to think a little bit, which might turn some people off, but hey, that’s the beauty of story telling, the variety suits us.

Overall I really liked the story, but as a movie it failed to keep my eyes happy! I was constantly thinking about the darkness and the blurriness and how depressing the look of it all was. The story is not depressing at all, it’s just about thinking about life and death and our choices we make. There needed to be some moments that gave us a break from the gloominess, but there were none unfortunately. The ideas stay in my head, which is good, so when they decide to remake this in 10 years, I’m hoping for a bit more light:)

Features: 8/10

  • Xenolinguistics: Understanding Arrival (30 Minutes) – A close look at the story and what the twist means for the characters. This also serves as a making of with looks at the set design and alien ship construction.
  • Acoustic Signatures: The Sound Design (14 Minutes) – A look at the sound design of Arrival.
  • Eternal Recurrence: The Score (12 Minutes) – A discussion of the score and the lack of sound in some sequences.
  • Nonlinear Thinking: The Editing Process (11 Minutes) – My favorite featurette here which takes a look at the craft of the Editor. This movie must have been a nightmare to put together with it’s non linear timeline.
  • Principles Of Time, Memory, & Language (15 Minutes) – If you like Science this is a look at the real science behind the film. Don’t think too hard about it though it makes you go cross eyed.
  • 4k UHD, Blu-ray & UV Digital Copy

Cover Art : 3/10
What a blah cover for this movie. Then again, the look of this movie matches that blah…but I need to let that go! I would not have this as a poster in my house. There are so many more cool images from this movie, why why why did they not get more creative?

Audio & Video: 6/10
Arrival looks terrible on 4K UHD and Blu-ray. Of course it preserves the theatrical presentation but the director of photography here made the movie so dimly lit that it’s hard to see some of the actors in parts. The 1080P Blu-ray is drab, devoid of color but full of detail in close-ups. Black levels are grayish leading to a flat gloomy picture that is simply not nice to look at. The 4K UHD version looks almost identical to the Blu-ray so it’s not like they were holding back and HDR makes it look so much better.  To be clear though there is nothing wrong with your TV-set or this disc, the movie just looks like that way.

Arrival is also missing a Dolby Atmos Soundtrack which is weird because it was presented that way theatrically. The DTS-HD Master 7.1 Audio is great though and puts the picture to shame. The deep sound of  bass when the aliens are communicating is the standout here. Dialog is central and easy to hear even when the action hots up.

Overall Score 7/10