Arrival reviewed by Mark Kermode


Mark Kermode reviews Arrival. A number of large alien ships arrive around the globe. With international forces panicking as they wonder what the aliens want and how they should respond to them, the American government enlist Dr. Louise Banks, a linguistics expert, to try and figure out a way to communicate.

Please tell us what you think of the film — or Mark’s review of the film – below. We love to include your views on the show every Friday.
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48 Responses

  1. JTCGiantz56 says:

    He made so many references I've never heard of lol

  2. lionsdale1 says:

    Was one of the worst films i ever saw.

  3. Robert says:

    The last ten minutes was just excruciatingly tedious. It looked nice, but really wasn't any better then say Sphere with Dustin Hoffman which had a similar story.

  4. Paul Phoenix says:

    Don't agree with Mark on this one and I'm a ufo/alien nerd. It was boring and dragged on, I had to force myself to sit through the second half.

  5. Happy Now says:

    I lost my brother just before Christmas, It was definitely a film I needed to see right now, I felt less alone with without going into spoilers.

  6. Derek Jones says:

    Total feminist, man-hating propaganda from start to finish including the repeated O image and the fuzzy,
    feelings-based science. It's quite a good movie though, but not a scratch on the classic Close Encounters.

  7. K rx24rx says:

    Oh cool – another sci-fi movie that takes a short cut to emotional weight via the 'dead child sub-plot'
    I'm the only person in the world that didn't like this film.

  8. Raymint says:

    Interstellar done right. A review done right, even. I've heard so many others give too much away.

  9. Nina Smith says:

    I wanted to know more about the aliens.

  10. Great review, Mark. Just saw the movie a few days ago and, like you, felt it was just what I needed to see right now. A beautiful story with challenging ideas. In the midst of all the global sabre rattling it struck just the right note for me.

  11. Kitty says:

    I love Denis these days. Arrival is my 2016 fave.

  12. Ethidian says:

    I love this review in a general sense but relate to it in a profound one. (:

  13. Magnificent movie, making particularly skillful use of the cinematic visual vernacular, a masterpiece of "show don't tell". Really brilliant. Possibly a good deal more enjoyable for people who have made a habit of reading sci fi as well, though.

  14. sybyly says:

    it was ok. the hype had me expecting a lot more. the trouble for me is you go into this film kinda knowing where it's going because [SPOILER ALERT] you will have heard it's a feel-hope-for-the-future-of-mankind feelgood film. then there's the clearly significant voice-over right at the beginning, with Amy saying that humanity's problem is being time-bound (or something similar). there were also a few small but lazy plot-holes along the way: e.g. they didn't brief the two newbies about the weird gravity before going in. Also, Amy comes out from her last solo trip in the alien's uber taxi ranting like a loon about alien gifts; but instead of being quietly terminated (cause it's not just the Russians who do that), or at least put on armed guard, she's left to run about with a phone. and when she tells her daughter about seeing the future, i expected the daughter to ask mum if she's been smoking funny fags.

  15. Nomadski says:

    Loved Sicario, thought this film was total garbage. To compare it to Contact or Close Encounters was quite the insult. Visually it was dull, the acting was dull, the "twist" in the narrative was dull, it had terrible plot holes. 2 hours of my linear time I'll never see again.

  16. spaceboy2095 says:

    I've just seen it (twice, just to make sure) but I've got to say this movie was badly paced and its ending simply laughable. It has however great design, photography and acting but I went out of both screenings I went to infuriated at the director for having take such a fun at my expanse : the prologue and the whole third act are simply nonsensical and; overall, it makes you expect something all the time (the design of the Alien ship, the look of the aliens, etc) and gives you less than you expected. And the linguistic part of it is not particularly accurate…

  17. Kent Merr says:

    I went due to the reviews, but I actually didn't love it. The big reveal I worked out a tad beforehand but the movie does this whole 10 minute intense music thing when it shows it's hand and focuses on the reveal rather than the aliens and all the other humans. It answered why they were here, but not really how they solved the issue or what the issue really was. Might not make much sense. Trying not to spoil.

  18. Ben1001 D says:

    Fantastic movie. Really recommend going to see it.

  19. Phil Weitzen says:

    It's a classic… one of the best films of any genre EVER!!!
    Plus a supreme soundtrack ….those sounds!!!

  20. relinquis says:

    am I the only one who was underwhelmed by the quality of the image? not the compositions or lighting, rather the quality. it looked too digitally degraded. It's odd though, considering that his previous film, Sicario, was shot digitally, but didn't suffer from this at all.

  21. Tan Ler says:

    Made me think of The Day the Earth Stood Still, the old Michael Rennie version, which was simpler and more direct than the recent remake with Keanu Reeves.

  22. I wonder what the alien symbol is for "my coffee mug has stained my table".

  23. Big Tramp says:

    Why do people think that this movie is great? I don't get it. I need to stay up for an extra two hours tonight, so I can reclaim the time I lost whilst watching this depressing nonsense.

  24. Sean Lennon says:

    the dialogue was very clunky and that took me out of the film. I think it's overrated. A slight piece of cinema. There may be all these themes Mark suggests are in this film but they aren't cinematically discussed in much detail.

  25. J Mac says:

    I watched it last night at the cinema and I thought it was garbage.

  26. Just like "Interstellar", the movie loses me completely by the third act. Dumb, really dumb.

  27. Good review. Really could have done without the politics at the end though. A film is a film sometimes no matter how many snowflakes fall.

  28. Ben Luff says:


    This is a dull, formulaic and rather dumb film. In places it was atmospheric (and the spacecraft is nicely designed) and the central concept is interesting, albeit very clunkily executed. Usual stereotypes apply (Chinese & Russians are the warmongers), the drama is underwhelming, and the story is badly paced and really dumb in places.

    Soundtrack's quite good though (Max Richter and Johann Johannsson)

  29. Adam Davies says:

    It felt like a student film where they'd been given a hollywood budget and Amy Adams.

  30. mmmallory33 says:

    liked it but haaattted the ending.

  31. MegF says:

    Not another positive review. How did so many people like this movie? We thought was very boring and hard to stay awake watching it. How did we see the same movie?

  32. Molten_ says:

    I need to see this movie

  33. WTF is with people all ower you tube, talking about this movie like sutch a complex puzzle. All of it's twist and turns are as clear as they're obvious. The amount and blatant ripp-off/inspiration this movie draws from other in many ways better movies is more than obvious. From you're regular massive UFO landed typa movies, most in line with Project Taurus from Sy-fj channel, to 2oo1., Prometheus, Signal, Sphere, Contact, Interstellar, the X-files series… This is just an OK directed polished up clishe. And that "show the end of a movie at the begining" thing should be shelved away for atleast a decade it's a cheap way of telling a story.

  34. Harry McNeal says:

    If this reviewer had bothered to read the source "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang, he might have gleaned that the needless politicization of the story in the screenplay turned some people off. It's a beautiful and thoughtful film, granted, but in the short story the Chinese do not overreact, there is no insurgency or explosion, the "gift" is more specific and there is no comprehensive "coming together" of all the nations of the world into what I interpreted as a "one world government" (note the scene with all of the nations' flags hanging on either side of a larger flag with an "O" at the top). Yes, this was an alien symbol but the allusion was obvious.

  35. Arrival might be the greatest movie I've seen this year!

  36. THE MUSIC!!!! Jóhann did an amazing job!

  37. kaatyblue says:

    I wish I had liked this movie :(

  38. sandorx4 says:

    So he managed to whine about Trump being elected in the review? Those liberal cry-babies are really tiresome. And he also used the word progressive like it would be an obviouse positive word.

  39. Loved this film. Did anyone else think about C.S.Lewis's 'Out of the Silent Planet' trilogy, the 'hrssa' (probably mis-spelled) especially and the philologist?

  40. The movie had really little to offer, it's a cheap mishmash from all the Sci-fi movie of the past 30 years. What was the point of the movie or message?
    Leaving the theatre and asking myself, so what?

  41. Kevin H says:

    Arrival was a major disappointment for me – the concept of a linguist trying to communicate with aliens and the details of the alien language are interesting, but the movie around this is quite boring — solemn and sentimental, with no wit and a dull script that checks off all the beats of a standard Hollywood film.

  42. Jenny Warm says:

    This film was really good I was really surprised

  43. Martyn Lewis says:

    Sorry Mark can't agree with you on this one. Boring,slow mumbo jumbo :(

  44. It was so good to see a genuine, positive,force on the screen.
    Arrival has arrived at the time of dark times.

  45. trexpaddock says:

    What went on this week??

  46. Another masterful review by the great MK

  47. Absolutely fab . I was gripped from start to finish.

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