Why 'Story of Your Life' May Be the Year's Breakout Sci-fi Movie

Why 'Story of Your Life' May Be the Year's Breakout Sci-fi Movie

Apr 12, 2016

If you're not at all familiar with CinemaCon, it's this annual convention for theater owners in Las Vegas and kind of like a mini Comic-Con, just without the cosplay and wild fan-related outbursts. What it does have in common with Comic-Con is its footage presentations, and this year all the major studios are in Vegas with a preview of their upcoming slates.

We'll be reporting on what we see and hear throughout the week, beginning with Paramount Pictures, who opened the convention with a presentation that included films like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, Ben-Hur, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Robert Zemeckis' Allied, Denzel Washington's Fences and our most anticipated of all these, Story of Your Life. (Yes, Star Trek Beyond was noticeably absent in terms of footage, though both Simon Pegg and J.J. Abrams were on hand to chat with press.)

Story of Your Life was the big stand-out, though, and 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. 2015's Ex Machina proved that, finding itself in the awards conversation (and with one Oscar win), and in previous years movies like Children of Men and Gravity have managed to wow us visually, but 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 (Amy Adams) and a physicist (Jeremy Renner)

Amy Adams knows a thing or two about communicating with aliens

You know your movie is nerdy when your heroes are a linguist and a physicist, played by Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, respectively. Based on the footage we saw, Adams is pulled in to help figure out what the aliens are trying to communicate to us. But let's back up...

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 their 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 -- not to be confused with the One Direction song, "Story of My Life" (yes, I've already confused the two names multiple times) -- evokes a haunting, unsettling vibe throughout, with the central spacecraft tucked somewhat menacingly behind this gloomy fog stretched out across an open field. We especially dug the wide shots of this giant craft hovering over a tiny makeshift military compound, and the look of that white wall the aliens use to communicate through.

Story of Your Life hits theaters this fall, and we expect a trailer to hit soon. 

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