The 50th anniversary of Star Trek this week really put in perspective just how long we’ve been living with the concept of extraterrestrial. In 2016, there’s something downright familiar about aliens, maybe because in most situations our conception of them remains rooted in our conception of ourselves: They look like us with pointy ears or a ribbed nose, or they don’t look like us, but they behave like us, with motivations and actions that are easily recognizable and understandable. One of Arrival’s greatest achievements is the way it makes alien seem alien again: Strange and inhuman and beyond the limits of our comprehension. It readjusts our thinking about what life on other worlds might be like. And in doing so, it also readjusts our thinking about what life on our world can be like.
“In a democracy,” says Holly Hunter’s Senator Finch in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, “good is a conversation, not a unilateral decision.” The 32 minutes added to the movie’s “Ultimate Edition,” now available digitally and released on Blu-ray and DVD July 19, include a lot of unnecessary shoe leather, and fills in gaps that don’t need the extra gob of narrative spackle.