Whenever aliens arrive on our planet -- in the movies, not in real life -- there's a litany of typecast characters that Hollywood summons, from soldiers to scientists. We've seen the Men in Black deal with extraterrestrial visitors, and Jeff Goldblum has contended with alien creatures not once, but twice. As it turns out, these fictionalized responses aren't too far off from what would happen in real life if aliens were to show up in the skies above our planet, which is something Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer discovered while researching the latest sci-fi drama from Denis Villeneuve.
Heisserer hopped on the phone to discuss the intelligent, challenging and extremely rewarding Arrival as the movie prepares to release in theaters. And when I asked him about his thorough research, and the questions that it raised for both his director and the cast (including Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner), he said they mainly were interested in the processes that would occur IF our planet ever experienced First Contact. Eric Heisserer actually revealed to me:
We had many interviews with some scientific personal, who I can't name for confidentiality reasons, who are actually on a team. There is a binder for first contact scenarios, that a protocol gets activated, and a handful of people get called. ... In real life, that exists. In part of the, it's in the pentagon somewhere, they bring that binder out and they start by calling everybody together. So the nerd version of Avengers assemble in this situation, and there's a good contingent of scientists, and we got to talk to two of them. And [we] got a sense of the amount of steps [that occur] between getting a crew together and making that first contact.
WHAT?! I mean, I guess if we have an Area 51 -- and we do have an Area 51, despite what the government may want you to believe -- then it makes sense that somewhere in our Pentagon, we have, as Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer calls it, "a nerd version of Avengers" comes together to decide how to proceed. Which is basically what happens in Arrival, where Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner play globally recognized linguists and mathematicians who are asked to defuse a potentially volatile situation before our military intervenes. Here's the latest trailer:
As I said in my 5-star review, Arrival is a brilliant, intellectually stimulating and expertly crafted sci-fi drama that says as much about where we are as it does about where we are going. Denis Villeneueve uses the arrival of an alien species to discuss uncomfortable truths about how we behave as people. It's one of the year's best films, and it opens in theaters this weekend. Find it.