Bought It Before I Watched It: Arrival

Bought It Before I Watched It is a series dedicated to all of the blu-rays that Jesse purchased without seeing the movie first. He then watches said movie and writes a post about whether he wasted his money or not. He also interviews himself and tries not to come off as pretentious or patronizing. Sometimes that’s easier said than done.

What did I buy Arrival?

Aside from being a critically acclaimed film about an alien invasion? That will earn a bought it before I watched it from me pretty much every time. However, in this case I was mainly intrigued because Arrival was helmed by Denis Villeneuve, one of the best filmmakers working today. Certain directors become so accomplished that all I need is to see their name attached to a movie and I’m hooked. Scorsese, Tarantino and Nolan are a few good examples of that.

I believe that Villeneuve belongs in the same company.

What did I think?

I knew going in that Arrival wasn’t your typical “aliens have come to Earth movie,” much to the chagrin of audiences with the predisposition that it would be another Independence Day. An actual criticism of a review I read (after I saw the film, of course) is that, “Arrival is a mystery masquerading as a summer blockbuster.” I feel sorry for anyone who felt that way, because while Arrival definitely weaves a mysterious web around its narrative, it certainly doesn’t lack for drama or tension and doesn’t pretend to be anything that it’s not. This is why I prefer to go into new movies blind, if possible, and just let the story play out as it was supposed to.

In short, I thought it was another excellent showcase of Villeneuve’s talents, and featured a particularly nuanced performance from Amy Adams. Personally, I thought it was refreshing that the hero wasn’t trying to blow all the aliens up, per normal.

Do you regret buying it?

Absolutely not. Villeneuve never lets me down. Every one of his films is different enough to stand out from the others, but the story always remains taut throughout and the visuals leave an indelible impression on me every time. Any new work from him will always be an instant purchase from me.

How often will you come back to it?

I definitely want to see it again. One idea that we’ve kicked around here is to highlight specific actors and directors, watch their most famous and underrated work and then provide you with some analysis on how these films impacted and inspired us, among other things. If we ever pull the trigger on that concept, Villeneuve will definitely be on that list.

Any parting thoughts?

Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal is another Villeneuve blu-ray that I purchased before I saw it. Considering I still haven’t gotten to it yet, and that I just waxed poetically over how much of a Villeneuve fanboy I am, that’s going to have to be one of the upcoming entries for this series. Stay tuned.

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