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When mysterious spacecrafts touch down across the globe, an elite team - led by expert codebreaker Louise Banks (Amy Adams) - is brought together to investigate. As mankind teeters on the verge of global war, Banks and the team race against time for answers – and to find them, she will take a chance that could threaten her life, and quite possibly humanity.
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This is not a Sci-Fi action film. This is Sci-Fi in the same vein as Contact, Solaris, and 2001. Actually, it is very similar to 2001 in many ways and themes. If you thought 2001 was boring, you will hate this film. This is not a film about aliens. This is a film about how we react to adversity and uncertainty. You may have heard that this is a film about time travel. It's not. No one "travels" through time. This film is about supposing that time is relative (which we know it is) and perhaps even malleable if you understand it well enough. The key to understanding time in this film is language. One aspect I think the film got wrong is contrasting science and language. Science is a language. Science is a way to explain the phenomena around you in formulas that can be shared and duplicated with others i.e., a language. They are not adversarial, but the same.
One thing that surprised me greatly was the portrayal of the military. I think this is probably the truest representation of how military personnel would react. These aren't mindless soldiers. They are thinking human beings with human emotions thrust into a situation of unbelievable significance. Some handle it with fear and trepidation while others approach it with care and concern. If we are ever visited by an alien race, the event will transcend the military. It will transcend the government and even nations. The government does not own or have a right to police our access to foreign visitors. This film portrays very well the moral dilemmas between duty and human emotion.
Are there some problems with the film? Undoubtedly it could have added more steps of suspense along the way--just a few morsels to keep the suspense building even more. I think that would have eliminated some of the "boring" complaints. I also think Jeremy Renner did not belong in the film. He is an excellent actor and it's not like he doesn't act his role well, it's just that he brings too much "Jeremy Renner" baggage to the role for me to accept him completely. Amy Adams was perfect for this role, however.
You absolutely should watch this film if you like thinking about it afterwards. Nothing is spoon-fed to you in this film and you will NOT receive all the answers. Much is left open to your interpretation. It will leave you guessing to the very end. What would you do in the same situation?
If you thought 2001 was a masterpiece (it was) then you will love this film in much the same way. If you thought Independence Day was a masterpiece, don't waste your time watching this.
**Blu-ray note** Having purchase the Blu-ray, I can now speak to it separately from the film. The picture is stunning and one of the best films I have seen. The colors are slightly muted, but I'm sure it's intentional. I just don't remember it being overly dark in the theater.
There are over 80 minutes of extras, although I am slightly apprehensive about watching them. They basically explain the whole point of the film which I feel is better left to your own interpretation. Those who don't like the film won't ever get a chance to see what it was about since they surely won't buy this, but the answers are there if you want them.
Here's the deal, to tell the story of another person's life--the complete story--you have to know how and when they die. If you knew this about yourself or someone very dear to you, would you still come across time to accept that fate? Many would not. And many would.
I literally lost the love of my life less than three weeks ago. It is the most excruciating pain I have ever known, and pain and I are old companions. And yes, I would come across time to catch up with her again, despite the agony in store for me. She was THAT good.
Amy Adams owns this role, and Jeremy Renner and Forest Whitaker give great performances.
Hint: This movie is great in the way that the Star Trek TNG episode, "The Inner Light" is great. Know that and you'll love this.
For laser battles and mindless action sequences seek out something from JJ Abrams. If you love the New Star Trek, you'll likely hate this movie.
If you are looking for something like "Independence Day," or "Aliens" then you will be disappointed. If you enjoyed "Interstellar," "Contact," or even "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," then you should find this movie very entertaining, and thought provoking. The film is carried entirely by Amy Adams - while the other actors did a fine job (including the special effect aliens) they (like the Sci-fi theme) are all incidental to Amy Adams character.