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Film Review: Arrival | The Good the Bad and the Insulting

Science fiction has always had something of an unfortunate image stuck with it. Since the late 60s, the genre as a whole has always carried the image of schlock raygun fights, space battles and simple storytelling. This is wrong of course, in the same way that anime is hardly limited to unfortunately placed tentacles and Super Saiyans, but even in this supposed new golden age it's an image which still sticks. Over the last few years though, it seems that big budget cinema has seriously been pushing to finally cast off this old limitation, with Arrival being its latest effort.

This is a story adapted from the short tale Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang. Focusing upon the first contact between species, but perhaps not in the way you would imagine. While it plays with a few of the usual tropes and ideas, often they are pushed into the background in favour of a single question - How do you communicate with something which lacks any and all cultural context or understanding? How do you come to an understanding with a creature which does not even have vocal chords?

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