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Arrival review: Fears unravel over mysterious alien alert

By Damon Smith

Like Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Arrival philosophises and digests before it considers locking and loading a weapon.

Twelve giant obloid spacecraft enter Earth's atmosphere and descend over seemingly random locations including Devon, the Black Sea and a lush meadow in Montana. US Army Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) leads the American response and he recruits emotionally scarred linguistics expert Dr Louise Banks (Amy Adams) to decipher a coded language used by the visitors.

Banishing painful memories of her young daughter's death, Louise aligns with military scientist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) to unravel the conundrum, while the CIA considers the terrifying possibility that we are in the calm before an intergalactic storm.

As nations grow nervous, especially General Shang (Tzi Ma), chairman of the People's Liberation Army in China, Louise and Ian take potentially lethal leaps of faith to better understand the aliens' intentions.

Anchored by Adams' mesmerizing performance, Arrival is an extremely stylish tale of grief and self-sacrifice that uncoils beautifully for two hours.

Four stars

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