Tag Archives: Jeremy Renner

Arrival – Movie Review

What’s the first thing you do when confronted with an unknown alien threat? Try to communicate with the aliens, of course. Arrival is this year’s science fiction entrant in the Oscar race stars Amy Adams as the nation’s top linguist charged with the mission of communicating with an alien race.

Release Date: November 11, 2016
Writer: Eric Heisserer, Ted Chiang
Director: Denis Villeneuve
Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker

Arrival starts with the arrival of 12 large alien pods scattered throughout the world. The US pod is located in Montana, while others are found in Russia, China, England, et al. The film’s main storyline follows Louise Banks and physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) as they interact with the seven-legged aliens they call “heptapods.”

The most fascinating part of Arrival is the process of deciphering language. Each pod has an access hatch where Banks and Donnelly can interact with the heptapods. The heptapod language is a unintelligible sounds of some sort, but their language consists of complicated circular symbols. Banks uses her name as a starting point. The heptapods respond in kind and now they are off to the races trying to find words and phrases that can be translated, such as eat and walk.

As fascinating as linguistics are, there’s a bigger picture. Why are the aliens here and what do they want? Are they a threat or are they friendly? The entire operation is lead by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker) representing the military and Agent Halpern (Michael Stuhlberg) representing the US government. At the same time, all of the other countries with pods are also trying to communicate with the heptapods and coming to different conclusions about the aliens’ intent.

Here you have the typical military tale of staying ahead of the possible alien threat and the lack of time the team needs to answer questions. Let’s also note that the world is falling apart wondering if these is the start of an alien invasion.

The story though is about Louise. Flashbacks abound as we look into the loner lifestyle of this college professor. We see that she is divorced and the parent of a child who recently passed from a terminal illness.

It’s hard not to liken Arrival with an episode of Star Trek. As with most alien films, there’s a lesson that we need to learn about ourselves individually and as a member of the global family of humans. The film also manages to tie the story of Louise, her past and future, together in a way that intertwines her life with the current mission.

Arrival has your riveted from beginning to end. You’ll marvel at the science of language and you’ll feel the sense of discovery as the alien language is slowly revealed. There is also the sense of urgency and frustration as our heroes must appease and outmaneuver the government with very little patience.

The best part of Arrival is its ending that sneaks up on you out of nowhere and begins to answer the question, you’ve asking from the very beginning. Arrival is a complex story that never gets confusing and ends in a nice tidy package. The ending is so strong, you’ll almost instantly need to see the movie again to catch things your missed.

Avengers: Age of Ultron – Movie Review

It is never an easy task to top a great movie. Avengers: Age of Ultron would possibly be a great movie if it were a sequel to the original. You’re going to have a great time, but you’ll always have the first movie in the back of your mind to remind you it’s a sequel.

Release Date: May 1, 2015
Rated PG-13
Writer/Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Paul Bettany, James Spader.

Avengers Age of Ultron 01

There is a lot going on in Avengers: Age of Ultron. If you follow Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., you know that the final remnant of Hydra has Loki’s Sceptre, been experimenting on power people (i.e. Inhumans) and building some kind of an army. The movie opens as the Avengers assemble to rid once and for all Hydra and regain the scepter.

After the battle, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) allows Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) to study the scepter. Stark discovers the scepter contains a form of high-level alien artificial intelligence. Stark and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) decide to see if they can leverage this new technology and create an army of robot “bouncers” that will protect the earth from alien invaders.

Unbeknownst to Tony, he accidently succeeds in this dream and creates Ultron (James Spader). Long story short, Ultron believes man is the earth’s greatest enemy and that the Avengers have to be destroyed first. In order to ensure success, Ultron convinces the two damaged power people, Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), to slow the Avengers down.

Avengers Age of Ultron 05That’s the big story, but it wouldn’t be a Joss Whedon movie if it didn’t have more b-story. Banner and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) have a budding romance brewing. Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) has a bigger role in Age of Ultron, and we learn a little about his real life. Captain America (Chris Evans) is ready to accept the cards life has dealt him. The Vision (Paul Bettany) is born into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Joss Whedon manages to recreate the team dynamic from the first movie. He again succeeds the balancing the stories of the large cast. He’s also a master of telling a giant earth-threatening story and bring a great deal of humor to the cast. No one stages big fights than Joss Whedon. Whedon lso addressed the issues of collateral damage when a battle of titans go at it in a heavily populated city. Take that Man of Steel.

Clearly, the best part of Avengers: Age of Ultron is the villain, Ultron (James Spader). The tone of Spader’s voice is ominous, intelligent, theatrical and menacing. I doubt he’ll get an Oscar nomination for this performance, but I’m sure people will bring it up.

Avengers: Age of Ultron is a great action adventure and in its greatness still falls short of the nostalgia of the first movie.