Movie Review—Arrival

Jordan Wilson comments
| Entertainment

This movie is rated PG-13 by the MPAA. Click here for the parental advisory from IMDb.

If you knew ahead of time all the trials and deep personal pain looming in your future, would you choose to live your life anyway? Would you choose to subject yourself to it?

****Not a complete spoiler and won't get too specific, but themes are discussed.****

Four out of five stars. Emotionally evocative. Clever. Several scenes were completely enthralling. Overall, a well made and thoughtful film. Very similar to Interstellar though there is less action and doesn't quite reach the same heights in terms of the overall package. I had high expectations going in and I still really enjoyed it and was glad to see it on the big screen. My wife and I had a lively discussion about it afterwards.

As seems to be quite common these days, Arrival is another secular humanist's attempt to grapple with the search for meaning in a life filled with deep personal pain and sadness within the broader context of an earth (and humanity itself) that is in need of rescue. The alien genre is a useful backdrop to introduce the transcendent and connect the personal with the meta. In almost identical similarity to Interstellar, Arrival seeks to explore these questions through the vehicle of family relationships—parent, child and spouse.

With Hollywood releasing a steady stream of these kinds of movies—The Martian (2015), Interstellar (2014) Gravity (2013), Prometheus (2012), what becomes clear to me is that the humanists are having a really hard time wrestling with the inconsistencies inherent in their worldview. They're searching for answers and ultimately coming up empty. With the conflicting belief that humanity must save humanity for humanity's sake, while at the same time being stuck with the commitment that on the individual level, there is no transcendent meaning beyond the temporal plane, they are in a real pickle.

Within the context of the secular humanist worldview, some of these films are more honest and consistent than others. Some flail about and try to find a happy face to pin on top of the dung heap. The truly "brave" ones are those with the bleakest endings (I would say Prometheus wins in this category). Nihilism is the logical conclusion.

It is truly dismal to step into their perspective for a moment. As if the Messiah never came, as if He didn't defeat death at His resurrection, as if He didn't set the world in motion toward Heaven. But since they reject God and His revelation in the person of Christ as the one true foundation for knowledge and wisdom and the hope of humanity, they end up embracing the absurdity that humans can have ultimate meaning as dying sacks of meat living in a world that is rudderlessly coasting off a cliff.

For all of their proud claims to be committed to rationalism and reason, at the end of the day you will see irrationalism leaking out the other side. It's the same reason Sir Isaac Newton, the "Father of Modern Science" ended up practicing alchemy and mysticism. The attempt to transcend the boorishness of our reality in a world devoid of a personal god. It's the same reason you'll hear someone in the scientific community tell you they aren't religious but don't have a problem with Buddhism. Everyone from Carl Sagan to Oprah have rejected Christ and they end up espousing the irrationalism of pantheism. The idea that the only conception of a "god" they can accept is really just the equivalent to nature as an impersonal force. As Gary North once said, "Rationalism and irrationalism take in each other's mores".

As long as secular humanism is around, we can continue to expect the "arrival" of movies like this one—all the while ringing hollow and failing to provide the catharsis they are after. Christians, we have the only hope for humanity, and (dare I say it) with the advent season approaching we can rejoice all the more! Pain is still painful, but God is making all things new, both in our lives as individuals and in the entire universe.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." — Isaiah 9:2




Jordan Wilson

Jordan Wilson is pursuing the Great Commission with his wife and children and is a regular contributor at New City Times.