Normally I’m a spoiler hound, but while some experts argue that spoilers can enhance enjoyment of a story, I’m not sure if that’s the case for Arrival. Saika reviewed the trailer, but I’m not sure I even saw that one, and I’m almost glad I didn’t. Not knowing anything much beyond “aliens invade and someone tries to talk to them” made the movie more suspenseful. Arrival is the most original sci-fi movie of the year. It’s based on Ted Chiang’s short story “Story of Your Life”, which was nominated for and won a handful of awards back in 1999. It’s no wonder it was turned into a movie. Most alien movies are about humanity fighting off the evil alien invaders. Arrival is different. It’s a story of a linguist trying to help humanity establish peaceful relations with alien visitors. Arrival is probably going to end up on the list of movies all the cool philosophy professors show to get their undergrads to think about the nature of memory and free will. Wrapped up in suspenseful alien invasion trappings, Arrival is really about how a human may cope once her experience of time is no longer linear. If you could see into your own future, what would you do?
Usually, summer blockbusters include a good alien invasion or two, generally starring Will Smith in some capacity. We’re easing into fall, though, so I was surprised to see a trailer for another alien invasion movie, The Fifth Wave, floating around. The movie is set to come out early next year, and unfortunately, doesn’t look as fun or as diverse as recent alien invasion movies have been.
Over the weekend, in a spectacular use of time that only goes to show how very impressive my decision-making skills are, I revisited a lot of my favorite Simon Pegg and Nick Frost collaborations. Eventually, through gratuitous use of Wikipedia, I happened upon a lesser-known film called Attack the Block, the 2011 directorial debut of Pegg and Frost collaborator Joe Cornish. Did I watch it? Yes, I did. Like Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block is in many ways a send-up of a popular genre (this time, alien invasions). It’s suspenseful, engaging, and hilarious. Most of all, it’s thought-provoking: it has a level of diversity that is rarely found in sci-fi, and uses its cast to make some pointed racial commentary.
So I finally got around to watching Justice League: War, and I have to say that it’s not as good as I thought it would be. I don’t think it’s bad, either—it’s actually really good—but I had set my expectations for this film much higher than I realized. Of course, most of my complaints are things that I should have seen coming.