My Favorite Film Extraterrestrials, Species Number 2: The Heptapods from ‘Arrival.’

The weapon is their language. They gave it all to us. Do you understand what that means?

-Louise Banks

Here it is, the number two entry on my list of favorite extraterrestrial species on film, the Heptapods from Arrival. I’ll bet you can guess what the number one entry will be. Well, keep it to yourself.

Arrival gave us something we don’t often get from Hollywood productions about extraterrestrials: smarts. It’s based on a short story by Ted Chiang, and if you haven’t read any of his stuff, you should. Like, right now. Put the phone down. Find his books. Read them. Then come back.

Back so soon? Good. I was just about to tell you my favorite thing about the Heptapods in Arrival: they’re not actors in suits. They look and sound and act alien. I’ve always figured that if we ever actually encountered an extraterrestrial, their form and behavior would be beyond anything we could possibly imagine. Arrival gets weird with it, and I approve.

(Missed the earlier entries on my list? Check out Number 5, Number 4, and Number 3.)

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