If you read the title, you probably know that I just saw both Arrival and Passengers. Let me say, even though they are both classed as "Sci-Fi" they are opposites in every way.
Passengers told one version of its straightforward story in its trailer and then gave us something entirely different. In the trailer, director Morten Tyldum told a story of two people who woke up early from a hundred-and-twenty year flight. He expressed how they were miraculously a perfect couple and how "they woke up for a reason."
When I heard this last line, I imagined a huge plot twist. Maybe some sicko with twisted ideas back on earth was trying to guide them through a game. Maybe aliens would be responsible for the wake-up, and they were trying to warn them of a bug in the ship (I am so glad that didn't happen! It's been over done). Or maybe the movie would turn into a Sci-Fi Horror: Maybe someone other than these two idiots woke up before them, and later woke them up to use them as entertainment, watching them run around while in the comfort of the ship bridge.
The "huge" twist was that Jim was responsible for waking up Aurora because he was super lonely.
Oh did I mention he also took away her life and her future in Homestead by doing so? Yup, he's kinda selfish, huh?
The rest is a stereotypical and highly cheesy romance story. I won't go into detail, but:
- The dialogue is an unrealistic, absolute cringe nightmare.
- The pacing goes all over the place.
- Colors and cinematography go left and right.
- Obstacles they face are silly.
- The typical female vulnerable role which falls for the guy who literally ruined her life, even after she knew what happened. All she did was throw a mild tantrum. (Can I just mention how terrible Lawrence's performance was? And she still got paid more than Pratt, who did a fantastic job.)
All in all, a very meh movie. Extremely immature, filmmaking-wise. Much potential wasted.
Arrival on the other hand, wow. It is mind bendingly awesome! It's director, Denis Villeneuve, manages to show an extremely confusing story in an incredibly clear way. How confusing? Well, let's just say they twist the future with the past and question the linearity of time. While talking to aliens. Yeah.
It is the first alien movie I've seen that contains no action scenes whatsoever. Just pure, dense plot within an exemplary form of non-linear and mostly visual storytelling. Now that's how a film should be done. Why waste 120 minutes of my time when you could've said the same in under 30? Modern movies tend to over expand ideas, and Arrival was one of the few that didn't. Because it didn't need to.
Both movies ultimately tell a story of tragic love. One just does it more interestingly, more creatively and less straight-forward than the other. Passengers characters end in a mutual sacrifice where they refuse to leave each other when an opportunity arises. And all they did was change a single malfunctioning computer. How sweet. Arrival tells the story of a linguist who (apparently) lost her child. She is hired to translate alien words, and in the way, she meets her future husband, a physicist. The thing is, once you learn the "universal language" or as the aliens call it, "the weapon," she gains the ability to see time as the aliens: In a nonlinear way, just like real time! (You can tell they did their research). However, here we discover her child wasn't dead. It hasn't even been born yet! Yet she chooses to change nothing, and proceed with her marriage and childbirth. Divinely, ending where we started. Beautiful.