Movie Aliens — How Do the Creatures in “Arrival” Compare?

Posted on November 14, 2016 at 11:18 pm

If you like movies about aliens, be sure to read Stephanie Merry’s great look at 40 years of movie extraterrestrials in the Washington Post.

The aliens in “Arrival” are spectacular, and that’s no small feat. In most “first contact” movies, the otherworldly creatures almost always let us down. Either they’re predictable — you know, little green men speaking an echoey, indecipherable language or stereotypical “Greys” with the big eyes and the egghead — or they look fake.

Carlos Huante tested many iterations with director Denis Villeneuve before they settled on the final design for “Arrival”… He settled on characters that tap into conflicting emotions: They’re serene yet daunting and huge yet indistinct. They’re heptapods, meaning they have seven legs, and they look like a cross between a giant hand and a squid; their “fingers” resemble starfish that emit an inky, smoky substance, which is how they express their entirely visual language.

They are strange but graceful. Other movie aliens have ranged from the humanoid to the insect-like, from the endearing (“E.T.,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”) to the creepy and strange (“Mars Attacks”) to the all-out terrifying (“Alien,” “War of the Worlds,” “Pacific Rim”). Merry’s article gives credit to the talented and imaginative designers who created aliens that were enticingly strange and yet believable.

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