If you're not familiar with CinemaCon, it's an annual convention held in April for theater owners in Las Vegas that's kind of like a mini Comic-Con without the cosplay. All the major studios are there this week with previews of their upcoming slates, including Paramount, which showed the press footage from movies including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Ben-Hur and Jack Reacher: Never Go Back. One movie, though, was a particular standout: Story of Your Life. Here's why…
It looks like Contact meets Close Encounters of the Third Kind
In an age where the giant effects-driven blockbusters reign supreme, we're beginning to see just how crucial smart, nerdy science fiction is when it comes to the films we're still talking about at the end of the year. Ex Machina proved that in 2015, ending up in the awards conversation (and with one Oscar win). In previous years movies like Children of Men and Gravity have managed to wow us visually and also stimulate our minds.
Story of Your Life — about what happens when aliens land and we attempt to make contact — looks to be that film for 2016.
Its heroes are a linguist and a physicist
Amy Adams knows a thing or two about communicating with aliens
You know your movie is nerdy when your heroes are a linguist (Amy Adams) and a physicist (Jeremy Renner). Based on the footage we saw, Adams is pulled in to help figure out what the aliens are trying to communicate to us.
The story takes place after several egg-shaped crafts land in different parts of the world. And unlike, say, Independence Day, we don't start fighting them almost immediately — instead we try to communicate… and it works. Except no one knows what these aliens — who actually resemble the slimy, tentacle-like aliens from Independence Day — are saying.
Enter Amy Adams, who, teamed with Jeremy Renner, board the alien craft in an attempt to communicate with the beings through a mysterious white wall that may be some kind of portal to another dimension, or it may be a protective force field — that much wasn't clear.
It's based on an award-winning short story
Ted Chiang's novella won a Nebula Award, which is a big deal in science-fiction writing. It's basically the equivalent of an Emmy or Oscar. So right there you know filmmakers are working with fantastic, award-winning material.
And speaking of those filmmakers…
It's directed by the guy who did Sicario and Prisoners
We have no idea how Denis Villeneuve has managed to churn out four uniquely compelling films in three years (Prisoners, Enemy, Sicario, Story of Your Life), but we'll take it!
With cinematography from Bradford Young (Selma, A Most Violent Year), Story of Your Life evokes a haunting, unsettling vibe throughout, with the central spacecraft tucked menacingly behind gloomy fog on an open field. We especially dug the wide shots of this giant craft hovering over a tiny makeshift military compound, and the look of the white wall the aliens use to communicate through.
Story of Your Life hits theaters this fall, and we expect a trailer to hit soon.