The Last Trailer for "Arrival" Finally Tells Us What Those Mysterious Ships Are

Thursday, 20 October 2016 - 2:15PM
Thursday, 20 October 2016 - 2:15PM
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With books like Cixin Liu's Three Body Problem raking in huge accolades and people like Aristomenis Tsirbas creating creepily realistic interviews with grey aliens, worldwide fascination with alien contact is going strong. Now, another Nebula Award-winning piece of sci-fi is getting a movie: Arrival, based on the 1998 novella by Ted Chiang, which was titled Story Of Your Life. The original novella dealt heavily with alien linguistics and even developed a language based around complex mathematics. Now the folks at Paramount have released the final trailer for the upcoming movie, which looks like a cross between District 9 and Independence Day, and it seems to reveal one of the big mysteries of the movie: what the ships are.

That's right: if the editing on the new trailer isn't just being purposely misleading, the symbol we're seeing means "weapon," ie, all those weird black wedge ships are the sum of all fears, as Tom Clancy called it. If you haven't seen the earlier, longer trailer, you should check that one out, too—it shows a bit more of the alien language and how the characters try to crack it, as well as the chaos the world is undergoing in the wake of the titular arrival. You can see it here:

Putting both trailers together, you definitely get the sense that this is a more intellectual, subtle take on an alien invasion, even though a lot of the same tropes are there: giant motherships stationed (apparently) near major cities around the world, military paranoia about whether the aliens are here to wipe out humanity, a ticking clock to doomsday, attempts to communicate with the aliens despite the language barrier, etc. Some movies, like Battle: Los Angeles, follow these tropes pretty slavishly, while more thoughtful movies, like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, end up being more thought-provoking and emotional. But of all the invasion tropes, Arrival is based on one element in particular: language.

The main character, played by Amy Adams, is "on the top of everyone's list" when it comes to translations, and like an interstellar Robert Langdon, it's up to her to figure out how to talk to creatures that speak only in complex symbols. It's a fascinating premise, especially considering that the aliens look like starfish from hell (something a certain unhinged fictional theoretical physicist once hypothesized). Stephen Hawking has spoken about what humanity should do if ever contacted by extraterrestrials:

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"We should be wary of answering back," Stephen warned. "Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus - that didn't turn out so well."
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Hawking, however, was mostly speaking about radio signals from space—what do we do when the aliens are already here? Communication may be the only option left.

Arrival is set to premiere in US theaters on November 11th, 2016.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies