|alien clam shell in Hollywood|
WHY ARE THEY HERE?
I'm also fascinated by stories about alien life forms. Sadly, although Arrival presents an interesting depiction of an imagined alien form of life, the film is not about space aliens.
In Arrival, the alien heptapods apparently come from a world where the atmosphere is much denser than that of Earth. We learn almost nothing else about the aliens, in particular, nothing about their advanced technology. We don't even know if the 12 big black
Why they are here
|Abbott and Costello routine:|
Once they get their soldiers inside,
you're a dead heptapod.
The heptapods seem very careful to not harm anyone on Earth until one strange scene (never explained), briefly on the screen in Arrival, in which one of the 12 alien
|Extraordinary rendition: the focus group|
decided that Arrival was too boring
unless someone in the Middle East got electrocuted.
Of course, by the end of the flick, peace is restored and the world has been saved. Whew!
|written heptapod language (source)|
|spectral analysis of what might be an alien spoken language|
Renner does not have much to do in this flick. He gets to name the two aliens in Arrival "Abbot" and "Costello" and he provides one magic sperm cell to Louise. The alien schoolhouses are language schools, not schools of physics or technical colleges for teaching primitive apes about advanced technology.
|Alien schoolhouse: a tough nut to|
crack for our star pupil,
the linguist Louise
Along the way, during the months required for Louise to learn the alien language, as a distraction from the boring language lessons, and because this is Hollywood, we get tanks rolling across the wheat fields of Montana, nut job internet fear mongering and a squozen-in domestic terrorism bombing.
|This is Hollywood,|
someone break out the
|Louise (Amy Adams) interacting with the black "ink". I want to believe that these are clouds of nanites.|
|The obligatory explosion|
|futile attempt to teach|
English to the heptapods
|decoding the "universal"|
language of the heptapods
|vision of the future: the|
unborn daughter of Louise
What if the heptapods have access to advanced technology that allows them to know about events in the future? (ya, I'm not buying the silly idea that by learning the "right" language you can magically view the future.) They state that humans will be useful to the heptapods 3,000 years in the future, so (because 'cause' and 'effect' are meaningless technicalities in Hollywood) they must give a "gift" to the people of Earth here in the 21st century.
|The heptapods finally provide an info dump|
Imagine that those false memories are experienced by Louise as visions of the future, a future that the heptapods have already viewed by using their advanced technology for viewing future times. At the start of Arrival, Louise, narrating for her future daughter, tells us that she has had to re-conceptualize how memories "work".
|"We claim the South China Sea|
and no aliens are allowed!"
|The first rule of Hollywood: never|
pass up a chance to start a fictional war.
This could all possibly make sense if it was the heptapods who learned the general's magic words in the future. Just before the war was to start, they could have used their nanotechnology to make Louise speak the magic words to the general, preventing the war. Or something.
|the needed sequel|
I was encouraged to go to the theater and watch Arrival after seeing some reviewers favorably compare the two movies. Unfortunately, Carl Sagan and Robert Zemeckis set the bar quite high in Contact. Ted Chiang and Denis Villeneuve don't measure up.
Ever since Herbert Wells made the first famous alien invasion story, writers have milked the analogy between alien invaders and human invaders. Hollywood really can't seem to escape from that myth.
|Martian: War of the Worlds|
|War of the Worlds|
“This isn’t sexy, do we need this?"
I must ask: in creating Arrival, why select a screen writer (Heisserer) who has previously worked on a series of horror flicks? In "How I Wrote Arrival (and What I Learned Doing It)", Heisserer writes, "science fiction was my first literary love" and as he tells the story of his own life, it was a fluke that the folks in Hollywood tracked him into writing mostly for horror movies. How very sad.
|Should we be thankful for this Arrival?|
Related reading: the Search for Interesting Hollywood Aliens
Next: the sentient spaceship Many Sails
|the Gallery of Book and Magazine Covers|