I'm a sucker for alien contact, arrival, and invasion movie plots. In most cases, it's all about the anticipation– both because suspense is 90% anticipation, and because once the aliens show their ugly heads, fangs, or tentacles, they are almost inevitably disappointing, in spite of the technological marvels of modern special effects.
Arrival is an exception. The aliens are excellent. Why they have seven legs instead of the even number that any advanced product of evolution should have, I can't say. But it definitely helps that they live in a murky soup of foggy vapor that obscures their eyes (and therefore their facial expressions), and that their bodies are a mysterious compromise between the fluid plasticity of an octopus and the discrete jointedness of an old man's gnarled hand. Like cephalopods, they can squirt ink, and they are very good at it indeed. Cool.
The film is beautiful to watch, and beautiful to listen to. Amy Adams is truly a pleasure almost every moment her funny, lovely, intelligent face lights up the screen. And who am I to complain when the hero of the movie is a professor of linguistics! Still, I can't say I was nearly as enthusiastic about the rest of it. The other characters, the love story, the conflict, the woo-woo time-warp element... yawn. Don't expect too much... but go... and appreciate those heptapods.