2016 science fiction movie

Rating: 11/20

Plot: Twelve weird-looking spaceships flown by heptapods arrive on earth and hover a few yards off the ground in seemingly random locations. It's up to a linguistics professor and some guy to figure out how to communicate with them and find out what they want.

Was it just me or did it seem like everybody in this movie was stoned? Amy Adams seemed stoned, Jeremy Renner seemed a little stoned, and Forest Whitaker couldn't even open both of his eyes all the way. The movie's pace was lumberous, the tone lugubrious, and that probably didn't help. The characters at times seemed like somnambulists, like the giant magnet that the 7-limbed ink-squirting aliens had parked near them made them drowsy or something. Along with the sleepy performances, you had all these flashbacks (I know, I know) to dead kids and people sneaking bombs into places and Chinese people up to no good, and it all added up to a brain-numbing mess of a movie.

I didn't make all the connections I was probably supposed to. Early on, I didn't think this was going to be a movie that gave me all the answers I'd be looking for. I think I'm right although part of the problem might be that I'm just not all that smart. I don't want to give anything away in case you want to suffer through this on your own, but I'm not sure all of this adds up. The answer to the question on the poster--"Why are you here?"--just doesn't make sense to me. Maybe you can convince me that it does in the comments below.

Visually, there's some cool stuff going on. I liked the look of the spaceship things, some surreal shots inside that spaceship, and the tentacles. I'm always a man who enjoys some good tentacles. And I kind of liked some of the score, weird ambient sounds that I thought might have been Aphex Twin jiggling things around. It wasn't though.

I was really disappointed with the linguistics stuff. I never really bought any of the language stuff in this movie or understood how the characters were putting the pieces together to figure out what the aliens' ink rings meant. Likely, any further explanation would have been boring for most people, but the themes about language and communication were the most interesting thing about this movie to me. The lack details about all that linguistic stuff made me not really believe in what was going on. And when the story's twist winds up having something to do with the language, I really had trouble figuring out if it even made any sense.

The movie clumsily attempts philosophically conjecturing, but like most of the rest of this, it just seems a little half-assed or incomplete. Unengaging and personality-free, this movie just never really convinced me that I should be watching it. I'm flabbergasted that this was a Best Picture nominee.


Cory said...

I agree with the review and this was easily my least favorite nominee. I don't get it either. The alien Rorschach writing crap made no sense either, and it was important. Either the creatures are really good slow tossing their picture-words, or telekinesis/ telepathy is key. I don't buy either. The whole thing is like taking the movie equivalent of a qualude, and the cinematography made me want to slit my wrists in a tub. The acclaim this crap garnered is mystifying to me. I'll also give it an 11.

cory said...

I used the word either in four straight sentences. Either that is a record or maybe records aren't kept about such things. Either way, it is a bit embarrassing.

Shane said...

It's not quite as big a deal as my "man" movie streak, but I'll consider this feat for an end-of-year award of some kind.

I saw another Best Picture nominee that I was completely underwhelmed by. I'll write about that one in a bit.