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Arrival is based on a story about love, time and language (and aliens, kinda)

Amy Adams and Charlie Sheen star in one movie that looks good and one that's terrible

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Arrival will be released on Nov. 11, and it stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker.

It looks really good, and we're really excited about it, and I want to explain why. Also, Charlie Sheen shows up.

Can I watch a teaser?


I want to see a bit more!

Sure, here’s the trailer itself.

So The Arrival is ...

OK, stop right there. The Arrival is a Charlie Sheen film from 1996 that looks like this:

We’re talking about Arrival, which is a 2016 movie based on the short story "Story of Your Life" by Ted Chiang. Totally different thing.

Should I read the story? Will it spoil the movie?

That’s a good question, and I can’t answer it since I have not seen the movie.

I can say I purchased this collection of Ted Chiang’s work last night and read "Story of Your Life" in one sitting and cried at the ending. The story has aliens, sure, but it’s about how we perceive time and language. It’s a beautiful story, but also relatively small in scope. The movie looks like a major departure from the source material.

So my advice? Buy the book, read the story and enjoy the movie and story as two different things. But the writing is lovely. If Arrival does nothing outside of introduce more people to Ted Chiang, it will still have justified its own existence.

Wait, do you think the movie will be bad?

Hell no. For starters, it was directed by Denis Villeneuve, who gave us the amazing Sicario, a movie I like to call "Emily Blunts Really Needs a Cigarette" but I don’t often joke about Sicario because whenever it’s on I’m too busy being stunned by how good it is in general, but it also looks amazing.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Achievement in Cinematography, and it’s tense as hell.

If Arrival does nothing but get you to watch Sicario, and then read Ted Chiang, it will have still have justified its own existence.

Can I see an alien from Arrival?

Not all of an alien, but here’s a bit of one:

This is how the original story describes them:

It looked like a barrel suspended at the intersection of seven limbs. It was radially symmetric, and any of its limbs could serve as an arm or a leg. The one in front of me was walking around on four legs, three non-adjacent arms curled up at its sides. Gary called them "heptapods."

The circle you see at the end of that animation up there isn't part of the alien, it's actually the aliens' writing. The story does a pretty good job of showing how someone might learn to communicate with alien life from scratch, and how the aliens communicate is a big driver of the story's themes.

Can I see an alien from The Arrival?

I have no clue why would you want to, but I'm here to help. They walk backward for some stupid reason.

the arrival alien

Here's the source of that clip if you want to watch the whole thing.

This has been a wonderful journey and I'm glad we took it together.

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