Dir: Denis Villeneuve 1hr 56mins (12A)
Tense, cerebral sci-fi starring Amy Adams Too many films about aliens turn out to be excuses for spectacular scenes of CGI devastation which often involve the toppling of the Statue of Liberty, said Brian Viner in the Daily Mail. Denis Villeneuve’s “highly intelligent” thriller isn’t like that at all. Amy Adams plays a brilliant linguistics professor who is recruited by the US government after 12 alien spaceships appear, hovering ominously, at sites around the world. Her task is to communicate with them. The build-up to her first “close encounter” is unbearably tense, said Deborah Ross in The Spectator, thanks to Adams’s ability to convey serious “emotional heft” while “seemingly doing very little”. And the aliens themselves, when finally revealed, are a “triumph of creepily memorable design”, said Robbie Collin in The Daily Telegraph. As, too, is the weird form of writing they use to express themselves: it has the “daunting beauty” of calligraphy. Some aspects of this “cerebral” film – Adams’s instant ability to decipher alien script, for example – run the risk of seeming “silly”, said Geoffrey Macnab in The Independent. But this is a sci-fi thriller that grapples with abstract ideas and doesn’t rely “on action movie clichés”. That makes it pretty remarkable.