Monthly Archives: November 2016

We Review: Arrival “Nothing new, but still entertaining 3.5 stars” – MR


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Arrival, Movie Poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Produced by
Screenplay by Eric Heisserer
Based on Story of Your Life
by Ted Chiang
Music by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Cinematography Bradford Young
Edited by Joe Walker
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
(North America)[1]
Sony Pictures(International)[2]
Release dates
  • September 1, 2016(Venice)
  • November 11, 2016(United States)
Running time
116 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $47 million[4][5]
Box office $39.2 million[5]

Arrival is a 2016 American hard science fiction thriller film directed by Denis Villeneuve and written by Eric Heisserer, based on the short storyStory of Your Life” by author Ted Chiang. The film stars Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg and Tzi Ma.[6]

Arrival had its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival on September 1, 2016, and was released in the United States on November 11, 2016, in IMAX by Paramount Pictures. The film received positive reviews, and praise for its story, sustained intense and suspenseful atmosphere, and Amy Adams’s performance. It has grossed $39 million.


Twelve mysterious extraterrestrial spacecraft, nicknamed “shells” by the U.S. military, appear across the Earth. It is unclear why they have arrived or whether there is any logic behind their choice of sites. Linguist Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is selected to join a special team created to analyse the alien species at the US site in Montana, due to her skills in translation and her existing high level security clearance. Also on the team are theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), and a US Army Colonel named Weber (Forest Whitaker). The story opens with a sequence of Louise with her daughter, who dies of a rare type of cancer while still young.

The team makes ‘first contact’ with two cephalopod-like aliens, which they call ‘Heptapods’ because they have seven ‘arms’. Ian nicknames them Abbott and Costello.

Louise decides that two-way communication in the aliens’ spoken language would be impossible. However, she discovers that they can communicate using their written language, which is based upon complicated circular symbols with inter-related components. With Ian’s help she begins to learn the symbols that correspond to a basic English vocabulary, hoping to build understanding so that she can eventually ask why the aliens have come to Earth. As Louise begins to become more proficient with the alien language, she starts to see images of herself with her daughter, both whilst communicating and later, as dreams.

The potential ambiguity in translation becomes a serious issue when the aliens communicate symbols that translate as “offer weapon”, with similar translations (for example “use weapon”) being deduced at other sites. As other nations, which had initially all been sharing their data and analysis, translate their versions of the message, they close down communication with each other. Some start to scramble their military, believing the message to indicate a threat. Louise believes that, due to the difficulty of translating the language’s complex structure, the “weapon” element of the symbol might have an alternative meaning, such as “tool”.

Rogue soldiers take matters into their own hands and plant a timed C4 explosive device within the shell. Louise and Ian are unaware of the device and go back into the shell, to communicate with Abbott and Costello again. Costello guides Louise to write one of their symbols on the barrier, and then both Abbott and Costello fill the screen with hundreds of smaller symbols. The device continues to count down as the rogue soldiers engage in a firefight with troops from the command centre. Costello leaves just before the device explodes but Abbott stays behind long enough to push Louise and Ian out of the communication chamber. They wake up in the base camp with concussion as the shell rises higher into the sky, out of reach.

Ian analyzes the pattern of symbols that the aliens had displayed to establish that it relates to the concept of time, and that what they received was one twelfth of an intended whole.

Meanwhile China makes preparations to attack their shell, and some other international forces do the same.


Our Thoughts

The concept and first part of this movie were fresh and spot on, but it turned into the same lost child/lost parent psychological drama that “First Contact” was. Amy Adams looks so much like Nicole Kidman, I thought it was Nicole until my date told me it wasn’t. That is a compliment to Amy’s acting. All of the actors did a great job, the story just ended up being the same ole, same ole. The movie was intriguing to me, and it taught me about some linguistics theory I would have never know had I not seen this film. However, it is what it is, a newer version of “First Contact,” differing enough that they don’t seem like the same thing. Nothing new, but still entertaining. 3.5 stars – MR

We Review: Doctor Strange “No surprises, even less plot, but still good. 3.5 stars” – MR

Doctor Strange (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange, wearing his traditional costume, coming out from a flowing energetic portal, and around him the world and New York turning around itself with the film's cast names above him and the film's title, credits and billing are underneath.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Scott Derrickson
Produced by Kevin Feige
Written by
Based on
Music by Michael Giacchino
Cinematography Ben Davis
Edited by
  • Wyatt Smith[1]
  • Sabrina Plisco[2]
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • October 13, 2016(Hong Kong)
  • November 4, 2016(United States)
Running time
115 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $165 million[4]
Box office $350.7 million[5]

Doctor Strange is a 2016 American superhero film featuring the Marvel Comicscharacter of the same name, produced by Marvel Studios and distributed byWalt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It is the fourteenth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). The film is directed by Scott Derrickson, who wrote the film with Jon Spaihts and C. Robert Cargill, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Benedict Wong, Michael Stuhlbarg, Benjamin Bratt, Scott Adkins, Mads Mikkelsen, and Tilda Swinton. InDoctor Strange, surgeon Stephen Strange learns the mystic arts from theAncient One after a career-ending car accident.

Various incarnations of a Doctor Strange film have been in development since the mid-1980s until Paramount Pictures acquired the film rights in April 2005 on behalf of Marvel Studios. Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimerwere brought on board in June 2010 to write a screenplay. In June 2014, Derrickson and Spaihts were hired to direct and re-write the film, respectively. Cumberbatch was chosen for the eponymous role in December 2014, necessitating a schedule change to work around his other commitments. This gave Derrickson time to work on the script himself, for which he brought Cargill on to help. The film began principal photography in November 2015 in Nepalbefore moving to the United Kingdom, and concluded in New York City in April 2016. Filming also occurred in Hong Kong.

Doctor Strange held its world premiere in Hong Kong on October 13, 2016, and was released in the United States on November 4, 2016, in 3D and IMAX 3D. The film has grossed over $350 million, and was met with positive reviews from critics, who particularly praised its visuals, acting, and musical score.


In Kathmandu, Nepal, the sorcerer Kaecilius and his zealots enter the secret compound Kamar-Taj and murder its librarian, keeper of ancient and mystical texts. They steal a ritual from a book belonging to the Ancient One, a sorcerer who has lived for an unknown time and taught all at Kamar-Taj, including Kaecilius, in the ways of the mystic arts. The Ancient One pursues the traitors, but Kaecilius escapes with the pages and some of his followers.

Stephen Strange, an acclaimed neurosurgeon, loses the use of his hands in a car accident. Fellow surgeon and former loverChristine Palmer tries to help him move on, but Strange, believing he can regain use of his hands, instead uses all his resources pursuing experimental surgeries in vain. After learning of Jonathon Pangborn, a paraplegic who mysteriously was able to walk again, Strange seeks him out, and is directed to Kamar-Taj. There, Strange is taken in by another sorcerer under the Ancient One, Mordo. The Ancient One shows Strange her power, revealing the astral plane and other dimensions such as the Mirror Dimension. Strange begs her to teach him, and she eventually agrees despite his arrogance, which reminds her of Kaecilius.

Strange begins his tutelage under the Ancient One and Mordo, and learns from the ancient books in the library, now presided over by the master Wong. Strange learns that Earth is protected from other dimensions by a spell formed from three buildings called Sanctums, found in New York City, London, and Hong Kong. The task of the sorcerers is to protect the Sanctums, though Pangborn chose to forgo this responsibility in favor of channeling mystical energy into walking again. Strange advances quickly over several months, even secretly reading from the text Kaecilius stole from and learning to bend time with the mystical Eye of Agamotto. Mordo and Wong warn Strange against breaking the laws of nature, comparing his arrogant yearning for power to that of Kaecilius, who believes, after the deaths of his loved ones, that everyone should have eternal life.

Our Thoughts

While I enjoyed this movie, especially the IMAX 3D effects, I knew what was going to happen.  These Superhero movies are great, but even the comic books relied on the same repetitive formula, a formula that is getting worn thin. I loved Ant man, and I will forever love Iron Man. This just wasn’t on that level, as far as acting and depth of plot go, not for a Marvel movie getting such rave reviews. America is desperate for a hero, it is clear.  B. Cumberbatch is good in the role, but the supporting cast was mediocre at best. It is worth the full price of a premium ticket for the special effects alone, even though you have seen almost all of them before in “Promethius,” and “Inception.” I can only give the movie 3.5 stars, because at no time did I even say wow. The best thing about the whole movie was the eye makeup on the bad guys. And the special effects have been used before, in several movies, just not in this combination.  – MR