Are Award Shows The Right Platform To Make Political Messages?

We’re currently in the midst of the award season for the film, television and music industries. The best films, actors and actresses, directors, television shows, writers, songs, producers and artists are being honoured and acknowledged for their exceptional contributions to their respected industries. Each winner is invited on stage, and then given less time than they need to thank whoever they want.

Most of these speeches are your standard affair of thanking family, cast members and any other influencers. However, occasionally a winner will use their award win as a public platform to spread a political or social message. Recent examples include Meryl Streep’s 2017 Golden Globe speech against then United States President-elect Donald Trump, or Leonard DiCaprio’s 2016 Oscars acceptance speech touching on the reality of climate change.

With the Oscars only days away (Sunday 26 February, North America) I ponder: should award winners be using their award winner speeches at industry events to spread political and social messages? It’s a subject I’m currently torn on, and I’d love to know your thoughts once you’re finished reading and understand my conflicting points of argument.


What celebrities say is instantly newsworthy

On the one hand, there is no more public platform than an awards show. The award winner is given the spotlight exclusively for a couple of minutes and free reign to speak about anything they want. Celebrities have proven to be some of the most influential figures when speaking out about social issues. So when we combine the two, the message becomes instantly newsworthy and spreadable.

The mainstream news media thrives on the entertainment sector and what celebrities say and do. This is especially true when political statements are made that may cause conflict. Streep’s political views were spread around the world by news organisations because it created a narrative of conflict between her and Trump. A quick internet search for ‘Golden Globes’ still brings up news articles about Streep’s speech.

That’s the undeniable power that celebrity messages have when news organisations catch on.

Awards nights are about recognising achievements

On the other hand, does preaching about social issues during awards shows detract from the award actually being won? Without searching for it, could you tell me the award Streep was accepting at the Golden Globes? It was the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award, a prestigious award for “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment” (Wikipedia). In the context of the award, Streep’s powerful speech has some relevance. She speaks out against the immigration bans President Trump was threatening to bring in, highlighting the diverse talent that makes up Hollywood and the industry she’s contributed so much too.

However, in doing so, the news coming out of the Golden Globes was “Meryl Streep attacks Donald Trump”, rather than “Meryl Streep wins an award for outstanding contributions to entertainment”. You could say it’s selfless of award winners to take the spotlight away from their successes to highlight issues they feel are more important. But the whole idea of an awards night is to take a night to acknowledge the contributions of people in the industry and the projects they’ve helped to create.

Entertainment can’t help but be wrapped up in politics. Many movies, novels, comics, and songs draw from the world around them to tell stories. The science-fiction genre is especially great at displaying politics in a metaphorical sense, as are many rap albums. I’m not saying keep your politics out of my awards night. Let’s maybe just think about whether it’s the right platform.


Does the message fit the platform?

We’ll keep with the Streep scenario because it’s the most relevant. Clearly Streep feels extremely passionate about the issue and understands that what she says has a tremendous influence on her peers and consumers of her work. Had she expressed her speech through social media, through a series of Tweets or Facebook posts, or a similarly lengthy video, or if she had appeared on a talk show with the same message, would it have been as effective? I think so. Maybe it would not have been accompanied by the same raw emotion, but you can guarantee the news angle would have remained the same. Especially considering it would have come from someone of Streep’s celebrity status.

On February 11, Streep accepted an award from the Human Rights Campaign for being an Ally for Equality, and made another speech against President Trump. Considering the nature of the award, this is the perfect stage for such a speech, and it received equally as much media coverage.

Ultimately, it’s up to an award recipient to decide what they want to talk about when they are given the spotlight. The spoken word is a very powerful tool, and an awards night like the Oscars is the ultimate soapbox. However, if making that message detracts from the overall aim of the awards night – recognising the exceptional contributions of talented people – is it really the right platform to be using?

I’d love to know your thoughts.

Nathan is the founder of Think First Entertainment. You can find him on Twitter @Nathan_M96.

Nintendo Switch: Has Nintendo Set It Up To Fail?

On January 13, 2017, Nintendo held a press conference live from Tokyo, providing new details about the video game console it announced in October 2016, the Nintendo Switch. I’ve now had some time to dissect all of the information from the conference and press opinions from the subsequent preview event. In summary, I think the Nintendo Switch is an interesting piece of hardware that could succumb to the same fate as its predecessor if third parties fail to show support.

The Hardware

The Nintendo Switch’s multiple modes of play make it an interesting piece of gaming hardware. The device can be plugged into a TV and used like a regular gaming console. It can also be played on the go like a handheld device by taking the screen out of its dock and plugging in the two controller parts (called Joy-Cons) to either side. Or you can use the kickstand on the device and pass one of the Joy-Cons to a friend for multiplayer games.

The controllers themselves are intriguing, drawing on the success of the Wii’s motion controls, while also appealing to the typical gamer who prefers playing games with a standard analogue controller.

In a way, I think the Nintendo Switch is a final realisation of what Nintendo envisioned the future of its hardware would be, with the Wii U being the initial test. The Wii U, released in November 2012, brought Nintendo into the high-definition world, and laid the foundation for a gaming console that you can play on your television or hand-held in your home. The Nintendo Switch takes that vision a step further by becoming completely hand-held – albeit for 2.5 to 6 hours depending on the game.


Despite no official specifications detailed, it’s plausible the Nintendo Switch will not be as powerful as the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. That’s not Nintendo’s aim though. The company has a legacy of creating its own terrific games that preach gameplay over cutting edge graphics.

Games At Launch

It’s not the hardware that Nintendo has to worry about, rather it’s the games that will be released on the Nintendo Switch. Nintendo is relying on a small library of titles to entice initial adopters. Breath of the Wild, the new hotly anticipated Legend of Zelda title is the stand-out. It will be the first game purchased with most systems.

Other choices on launch day are Super Bomberman R, 1-2-Switch (a collection of mini-game tech demos), Just Dance 2017 and Skylanders Imaginators. Apart from Breath of the Wild, it’s not a great launch line up, with Nintendo banking on the world wide appeal of The Legend of Zelda franchise rather than the more recognisable Mario franchise.

The absence of a Mario launch title is confusing, considering he is basically Nintendo’s mascot. The Wii U launched with New Super Mario Bros. Wii U, but Nintendo Switch owners will have to wait until Mario Kart 8 Deluxe on April 29 for a Mario game to play on Switch. It would have served Nintendo better to release Mario Kart 8 on launch day, considering it is a title already available on Wii U.

Nintendo appears to be spreading its internally developed games across 2017, with fighting game Arms (Spring 2017, North America), shooter Splatoon 2 (Summer 2017, North America) and a new open-world Mario game Super Mario Odyssey (Holiday 2017), all scheduled for later this year.

The issue with the Switch, as evident from the Wii U before it, is not first party titles, but third party titles – games published by companies other than Nintendo such as Electronic Arts and Ubisoft. The Wii U launched with 32 day-one titles in 2012, only four of those published by Nintendo. Another 23 games were released during the six-month launch window ending in March 2013 (IGN).

It was a strong start for a console attempting to claw back some of the market that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 had captured. However, most third-party support stopped in November 2013 once the more powerful Xbox One and PlayStation 4 were released. Wikipedia’s list of Wii U games sorted by release date is a wonderfully stark realisation of this fact.

The market demands great graphics and feeds off buzz words, and because the Wii U didn’t carry as much power as the current consoles, third parties stopped creating games for it. Nintendo’s initial reveal trailer for the Nintendo Switch highlighted the third party support coming to the Nintendo Switch, but the launch line-up for 2017 fails to represent that thus far.

Third-party partners from Nintendo Switch reveal video, October 2016.

Nintendo could be facing a chicken or the egg scenario again with the Switch. A console needs games to sell units, but developers won’t invest in a console that has no owners. The Wii U shows that quality third party content is extremely important for the on-going success of a console, but at the moment Nintendo is hoping its strong internal catalog of games can bring the Nintendo Switch success. It is a big gamble that has already failed once.

I believe that the Nintendo Switch will be a great piece of gaming hardware. However, I can’t see it gaining mainstream appeal if it becomes another Nintendo console where you can only play Nintendo produced games, regardless of their track record for creating amazing experiences. Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong.

Nathan is the founder of Think First Entertainment. You can chat to him about the Nintendo Switch in the comments below, or you can find him on Twitter @Nathan_M96.

My 5 Favourite Films of 2016

2016 was most definitely the year of the superhero film. Marvel has been putting out a constant stream of its cinematic universe films for years now, but this year we got three of them. DC also decided it had to play catch up and released two films. Are we suffering from superhero film fatigue? I don’t think so, they are all different stories and worlds. It’s like asking if we’ll ever be fatigued by the Fast and the Furious franchise: probably not, car stunts are cool.

Enough rambling, here are my five favourite films of 2016!

As with my favourite games of 2016 list, these are not necessarily films I thought were the best of 2016, rather the ones I had the most enjoyment watching.

The Hateful Eight (January, 2016)

While The Hateful Eight was released on December 31st overseas, it did not release until January 14 in Australia, so it can sneak onto the list. Quentin Tarantino is a master director, who succeeds at developing interesting characters to tell stories about. The Hateful Eight is a prime example, using the interactions between eight characters at one location to tell a suspenseful story.

As the lengthy film progresses, we learn more about the eight mysterious characters and that some of them may not be who they say they are. It’s a wonderful example of character driven storytelling that works largely because of the terrific writing and acting performances from the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins and Tim Roth.

The cinematography is also brilliant, with shots chosen to further emphasise the relationships between certain characters. The Hateful Eight received an Oscar nomination for best cinematography, but was beaten by The Revenant. It did, however, win best original movie score – the first Tarantino film to have an original score – and best supporting actress with Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Extended Edition (June, 2016)

I’m being very specific with this one and sayiing the extended edition is one of my favourite films of 2016 because the extra 30 minutes actually improves the film.

The extended scenes are largely related to one of the opening sequences in the desert, and are spread nicely throughout the film, but they make the motives of Batman, Superman and Lex Luthor much clearer. It feels like Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment wanted to trade clarity for a PG-13 rating in the U.S. to bring in more viewers.q

Criticism aside, I’ve been waiting for a Batman and Superman film ever since the Marvel Cinematic Universe began teaming up its heroes. It’s been a long wait, and I felt it would never happen, but DC has finally got on the superhero team-up film bandwagon.

For all of its flaws, it’s just great to see Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman depicted on the big screen!

Captain America: Civil War (May, 2016)

The Captain America films are some of my favourite Marvel films. I love the cinematography and the action sequences the Russo brothers create.

Captain America: Civil War is the culmination of this phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it’s a great action film. There never feels like a ‘right’ side of the conflict, with both Captain America and Iron Man expressing strong reasons why superheroes should and shouldn’t register to be under control by the United Nations.

The highlight of the film, however, is the massive fight sequence between the two factions, which includes the likes of Iron Man, Captain America, Hawk Eye, Black Widow, Ant Man and the newly introduced Spider Man.

Captain America: Civil War was an ambitious project that showed the capabilities of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and its vision for future films.

Arrival (November, 2016)

Hopefully you’ve already read what I think about Arrival, so you know why it’s on this list.

Arrival succeeds because it tells a different kind of first contact story, one about communication and language rather than military intervention to save the planet.

The pacing is great, the cinematography elegant and the acting outstanding. Arrival is an all-round well polished film.

Arrival is one of my favourite films of 2016 because of the messages it expressly and implicitly tells. There are interesting ideas of language and how culture is effected by it, and of course being a science fiction film there’s a hypothetical theory about the relativity of time.

Arrival probably isn’t one of those films I’d watch over and over again, but it has left a lasting impression on me.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (December, 2016)

You can definitely tell that the new wave of Star Wars films are being made by people who love the Star Wars franchise. Like J.J. Abrams last year, Gareth Edwards has created a wonderful film that captures what makes Star Wars so great, while also bringing something new to the franchise.

Rogue One tells the story of the spies who stole the plans to the Death Star. Whereas the original trilogy and The Force Awakens use a war as the backdrop for a story about heroes destined to save the galaxy, Rogue One is about an unlikely crew uniting to help the rebellion take its first action against the Imperials.

Rogue One’s final act, a well scripted 30 minute action sequence, demonstrates inspiration that the film draws from war movies.

Rogue One emphasises the fact that it is different from the main Star Wars films by removing the traditional crawl at the beginning and the famous main theme. However, it is still a wonderful Star Wars film with a new and exciting story to tell.

With a likeable cast of characters, great CGI and special effects, Rogue One is one of the great blockbuster films of 2016 that every Star Wars fan should see.

Honourable mentions

Deadpool (February, 2016) – The funniest superhero film of 2016

Jack Reacher: Never Go Back (October, 2016)- A solid action film starring Tom Cruise

Suicide Squad (August, 2016) – A fun collection of characters that could have been so much better

Sausage Party (August, 2016) – A smart comedy about what supermarket products finding out what humans do to them at home

What were your favourite films of 2016? Let me know in the comments below, or on Twitter @Nathan_M96.

My 5 Favourite Games of 2016

Wow, has 2016 come to an end quickly! Compared to other years, I feel like I played less games this year, but the ones that I did play I spent more time with. With that said, I’d like to share with you my five favourite games of 2016. It’s important to note that these are not necessarily the games I felt were the best made games of 2016, rather they are the ones I enjoyed the most for various reasons. Check back tomorrow for my five favourite films of 2016.

Quantum Break (April, 2016)

You could definitely call Quantum Break an experimental game. It attempted to tell a story by mixing a video game with a live-action television series. It largely worked. While the video game segments focused on time-altering protagonist Jack Joyce, the television segments fleshed out the narrative by focusing on the actions of some of the supporting cast.

Despite becoming somewhat convoluted, the story about manipulating time was interesting and the acting performances were engaging. The technology powering Quantum Break’s video game segments was amazing, allowing known actors like Shawn Ashmore (The Following, X-Men) and Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones) to have their likeness represented in-engine. This created some of the most realistic and smooth animations I’ve seen in a video game.

Gameplay wise, the time-manipulation powers were fun to use and encouraged the player to experiment with their application. This time manipulation also led to one of my favourite set pieces in a game this year. If you’ve got an Xbox One or a powerful PC, I’d recommend it if you want to see the possibilities of a con-current story across two mediums.


Overwatch (May, 2016)

When I said that the games on this list would be the ones I enjoyed the most in 2016, rather than the games I thought were critically the best, Overwatch was the one exception. Not only is Overwatch my favourite game of 2016, I believe it is also the best. As I said in my review on Analog Addiction, Overwatch succeeds because every design decision is simplistic, but also smart and balanced.

It is simple to pick up and play, and there are not too many complicated systems to understand. Every design choice is smart, from the way the maps have been designed, to the playable character’s abilities, to the attacking and defending tug-of-war that takes place on each map. This culminates in a well-balanced game that feels great to play and is a loads of fun.

That has only improved throughout the year as developer Blizzard Entertainment has provided constant updates to the game to introduce new characters, maps and game types, as well as tweak characters to ensure the game stays balanced and every hero is fun to use.

Overwatch is the game in 2016 that I keep going back to, and I expect it will remain that way for quite some time.


Rise of the Tomb Raider (October, 2016 [PS4])

I’m putting this here on a bit of a technicality. Rise of the Tomb Raider was released last year on Xbox One and PC, but this year on PlayStation 4. While I was given the game in 2015, I didn’t start playing it until 2016.

Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of my favourite games of 2016 because it feels great to play. The exploration mechanics add weight to Lara’s movements and unlocking new tools encourages returning to old areas to explore. Combat forces Lara to be resourceful as she evades attackers before putting an arrow or ice pick through their skulls. And the puzzles find the right balance between being too difficult and too easy.

Lara Croft is much more experienced tomb raider compared to the 2013 reboot, and she actually gets to raid tombs this time. The locations are more varied this time around, and the extra power of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 make Rise of the Tomb Raider look superb. It’s one of the best looking games on the systems.

Lara clings to an ice wall with her red pickaxe, preparing to make a big leap.

Battlefield 1 (October, 2016)

The Battlefield franchise does a terrific job at making players feel like they are in the middle of a war zone. The franchise began in World War 2, and up until this year had moved into modern times. However, the newest entry in the long standing franchise went back in time to the rarely explored period of World War I.

As has come to be expected of the franchise, Battlefield 1’s multiplayer is extremely fun. There’s always something happening on the map, with players fighting for control of the skies in planes, rolling up in tanks to capture control points, or overwhelming enemy positions with greater numbers as infantry. Most of the time, all three are happening at once, you just have to choose which part you want to participate in.

Bring a solid sound system or pair of headphones and you’ll hear tank shots going off in the distance or that sniper who just missed your head. Battlefield 1’s multiplayer is a sensory experience unlike any other.

However, it’s the single player ‘war stories’ that won me over. Rather than telling a heroic tale about characters in the Great War, Battlefield 1 depicts the horrors of war that many volunteers experienced. This is demonstrated instantly, as solider after soldier you control meets a gruesome death. It’s effective, and also a fresh take on a genre that loves explosive hero tales.

Titanfall 2 (October, 2016)

Following the multiplayer-only Titanfall, it became evident that Titanfall 2 required a quality single-player campaign to be successful. Coming from the team behind the highly regarding Modern Warfare series, Titanfall 2’s single-player campaign was a thrilling journey that brought us some of the best level design in 2016.

The time-line changing gameplay in the ‘effect and cause’ mission instantly comes to mind, as does the level that sees a house being manufactured around the player before they have to wall run and jump through it to get to safety. Respawn Entertainment uses the wall running and jump jet mechanics in smart ways, making Titanfall 2 feel more dynamic than a typical run and gun shooter campaign.

On the multiplayer side, Titanfall 2 took the wonderful mechanics from the first game and refined them to create a similarly enjoyable experience. Getting a titan is now based on how well you play in a match, rather than on a timer, so better players are rewarded more. Map design also appears to favour titans, with more open areas for titan fights and less places to hide as a pilot.

While I think the maps in Titanfall 1 were better, I prefer the mechanics of Titanfall 2. Respawn Entertainment slowed down the pilot’s movements so that wall running and chaining together several slides, jumps and sprints feels less disorientating while still maintaining the fast-paced nature of the game.

It’s a shame that the appeal for the game isn’t strong, which is evident from the heavy discounts on the game so soon after launch. A Titanfall 3 looks unlikely at this point, but the series is still one of my favourites of this console generation.

Honourable mentions

Enter the Gungeon (April, 2016) – Bullet hell shooter meets rogue-lite dungeon crawler

Doom (May, 2016) – Fight a horde of demons with a huge arsenal

Madden NFL 17 (August, 2016) – The best Madden NFL entry since Madden NFL 16

Destiny: Rise of Iron (September, 2016) – Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in

Watch_Dogs 2 (November, 2016) – A fun open-world to explore and hack

Lara Croft Go (December, 2016 [PlayStation 4, Vita]) – Turn-based puzzle game with smart mechanics

What were your favourite games of 2016? Is there something you think I should have played? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @Nathan_M96.

Watch_Dogs 2 Review – Hacking is a Fun Weapon

The hacking tools in Watch_Dogs 2 have made it one of my favourite open worlds to explore and goof around in. I’m not one to mess with civilians in open world games, but it was hard to resist hacking a car to make it uncontrollably speed forward and cause a traffic jam.

Furthermore, collecting money bags and research points (read: skill points) encouraged me to think out of the box to access seemingly out of reach areas. Can’t use the game’s fun parkour traversal to get to the top of a building? Why not hack a forklift, pick up a pallet and make your own ladder.

My enjoyment of the hacking tools increased when I unlocked better skills that allowed me to hack every car in the area, or call the police or a gang on an unsuspecting civilian and watch as they tried to protest their innocence. Diabolical, yes, but also highly amusing.

Protagonist Marcus Holloway

Guiding this gameplay is a narrative about the potential exploitation of our data by big tech companies such as Facebook, [insert your social media platform of choice], and Google (called !NViTE and Nudle in Watch_Dogs 2’s depiction of San Francisco and Silicon Valley). The hypothetical results of entrusting corrupt companies with our data are scary, especially when the approach is grounded in reality. Like this report that Facebook could change the emotions of its users by altering what shows up in their news feed.

We trust corporations with our data because they promise to keep it to themselves, but Watch_Dogs 2 explores scenarios where our data is manipulated and sold at will and not just to create personal advertising. One particularly relevant mission involves the social media company !NViTE altering people’s social media feed to influence them to vote for political candidate.

Unfortunately, that message starts to wear thin as the lengthy story progresses and it becomes excessive. Big data in the wrong hands is bad news, I got that after the first ten hours, yet it was still the only message being stressed towards the game’s conclusion at the 24 hour mark.

With that said, Watch_Dogs 2’s protagonist, Marcus Holloway, and the supporting cast of hacktivist group Dedsec made the story an entertaining ride. It was great to see the group grow together throughout the course of the story, and the writing made me care about their plight. The dialogue between the quirky characters was engaging, and felt genuine. However, the decision to write out one of the characters mid-way through the story felt out of place given the overall tone of the narrative. It felt like the writers were trying to tick off an open-world game checklist.


Where Watch_Dogs 2 shines is in the variety of tools available to players when taking on a mission. Most of the main story threads follow a similar structure: gather information on a person or organisation who is doing shifty things with people’s data, and then head to a location to extract evidence to share with the public.

Often, this will include infiltrating a well-guarded area. Non-lethal and lethal options are available, but taking a stealth approach is by far more enjoyable because Marcus cannot take many shots before he’s dead. It also feels more suited to Marcus’s character. The cut scenes don’t portray him as a violent killer, so to give him such a large arsenal feels out of place.

There are always multiple ways to complete the same mission objective, and each scenario encouraged me to experiment with the tools I had available. You can use a two wheeled RC jumper drone and a flying quadcopter drone to scout the area, hack guards for door passwords or trigger environmental traps. Or, you can pull out your stun gun or electro-shock grenades to put any guard you see to sleep.

Hacking is your weapon

When you unlock more skills, mass hacks allow you to plunge a room into darkness, or hack every guards’ mobile phone to distract them while you sneak by. In some cases, you can use your tools to complete an objective without ever having to by-pass the guards.

One of my most memorable moments came later in the game inside a space ship manufacturing facility. I had to access a computer on the other side of the factory and it was filled with guards. Rather than silently working my way through the guards, I hacked a massive crane-like machine that was carrying a freight container, and rode it above all of the guards until I reached my objective. I felt resourceful, like I had somehow cheated the system, but in reality Watch_Dogs 2 gave me the tools to make it possible.

Taking the quick way up

Gameplay, however, is not without its issues. In particular, the AI alert mechanic feels unfair at times. When you are spotted, guards start calling for reinforcements unless you can stop them in time. However, usually it’s not the guard that sees you who calls for reinforcements, but a guard around a corner. Until you unlock the mass disruption hack, accidentally getting spotted turns into a fire fight that will most likely mean death.

To break up the main mission structure, there are ample side quests that offer different activities such as kart racing, messing with people’s ATM transfers, or hacking a CEO’s bank account to deposit money into leukaemia research after his company raised the price of the drug. I’d recommend doing a few of these early on in order to earn enough followers (read: experience points) to unlock new skills.

If we see Watch_Dogs as an idea, Watch_Dogs 2 is the realisation of that concept. The hacking has been expanded, bringing more tools and choices to each mission. The protagonist Marcus Holloway is a much more likeable character, despite the game’s narrative suffering from a weak antagonist and a plot that loses momentum towards the end. And the traversal mechanics and more colourful visual palette make San Francisco a much more enjoyable world to explore than its predecessor’s Chicago. If you’re looking for a fun urban open-world game, consider Watch_Dogs 2.

Nathan is the founder of Think First Entertainment. You can find him on Twitter @Nathan_M96.

Arrival Is One of the Best and Most Relevant Films of the Year

Arrival, from Director Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario), might be one of the best films of the year, a close second behind Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (I kid about that last part, but the DC fanboy within me wishes it were true). It’s a wonderful piece of art, both in the cinematic delivery and the messages it preaches. Arrival is about an expert linguist, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams), whose services are required when 12 alien ships land on Earth.

The film jumps straight into the action, taking all of five to ten minutes to setup up Adam’s character and her current situation. Arrival is a slower paced film, but it moves forward at a constant pace. The cinematography and selection of shots is smart and effective; the sound design is eerie, creating a sense mystery throughout; the alien’s character design is unique; and the CGI is believable.

Arrival is a first contact science fiction film, but largely holds back on the action sequences. As a result, dialogue takes up a large portion of the film. Both the content and delivery are superb. Amy Adams delivers a captivating leading performance with Jeremy Renner providing a solid supporting role.

Language, culture and how the two interact is Arrival‘s biggest theme. With 12 different nations and cultures over the world trying to converse with the aliens – called heptapods in the film because of their seven legs – how their languages effect their interactions with the aliens is important, and it’s not something I’d thought about before seeing the film.

Some nations want to talk to them and interact with them to find out why they are on Earth, whereas others take a more hostile, military approach when they decide conversation is not working. The film uses the metaphor of chess to help the audience understand how different languages influence how cultures perceive the world, and how this could have a negative effect on someone or, in this case, something learning the language and how the culture perceives the world. Vox’s Alissa Wilkinson wrote a great piece on this aspect of Arrival, you should give it a read once you’re done with this.

Other ideas in Arrival include the idea of living in the present and the relativity of time; that’s where the science fiction elements take full flight. Gizmodo’s Beth Elderkin asked some interesting questions with regards to the theories express in the film. Another good read.


However, the idea, or message, I want to talk about today is the idea that humanity’s instinct is to treat every new race as a threat. The term used to demonstrate this in the film is “give weapon”. Some nations deem it hostile, while others are sceptical about its meaning. As you’ll see if you watch the film, all of the above ideas interweave and play off one another. However, given the events of the past week and the year in general, this final theme is why Arrival’s release could not have come at a better time.

In science fiction films, a new threat is usually a new species that has come to take over Earth. However, translated to modern times, these threats to the unknown or misinterpreted take the form of racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, etc. Throughout history, anything new or different has been seen as a threat and to be met with hostility or oppression. Just look at colonisation and its effects on indigenous races globally, or how the Catholic Church views homosexuality.

We like to group ourselves in every way possible. We group by race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, wealth class, which state we live in or even which neighbourhood. Sure, these groups all have things that make them unique, but too often we perceive different as hostile. It’s a misinterpretation, a failure to understand and it’s hurting us as a collective.


The power of science fiction is that it groups humans together, forcing us to unite to solve an issue rather than tackling it alone. To Arrival’s heptapods, we are all humans. We are all a collective. Science fiction films, and especially Arrival, remind us that deep down, we are all the same. We are all human. In Arrival, it takes an alien species and some science fiction theories to unite us. Is that really what it is going to take to stop humanity from hating, fear-mongering and oppressing itself?

The bigger question something like this raises is, how do we stop something that’s so entrenched? We’ve been grouping ourselves and fighting against ourselves for centuries, millennia even. Sure, we’ve got a United Nations, but it’s more a symbol than anything meaningful. Arrival suggests that we must negotiate and communicate with each other to achieve a non-zero sum game. That is, both sides can gain something from a transaction. Clearly, we are a long way from achieving this, but eventually we have to turn conversation into meaningful action.

We don’t have to completely understand each other and our unique cultures, but it is important that we understand that hate, disrespect and isolation of groups and cultures does not help humanity. Arrival only takes two hours to demonstrate this fact, and it’s the most relevant and important two hours of film you should consume all year.

Nathan is the founder of Think First Entertainment. You can find him on Twitter @Nathan_M96, and you can follow Think First Entertainment @ThinkFirst_ENT.

What is Think First Entertainment?

Opinions are important, and so is unique content. Think First Entertainment aims to provide just that, in the world of entertainment and pop culture. The primary aim of Think First Entertainment will be to encourage conversation and thought. I don’t want to tell you what to think, but offer an opinion that will help you to make your own judgement.

You can get news from other bigger websites that have more resources to cover more things, so don’t expect too much of that from Think First Entertainment. Instead, expect longer form articles that are thought provoking.

This is largely an experimental idea that will take shape as time passes, but for now Think First Entertainment will be a place for you to find articles about video games, film, and various other pop culture mediums.

But why should you bother with my opinion? Well, hopefully my writing will speak for itself, but my background may help.

My name is Nathan Manning. Before starting Think First Entertainment, I was an Xbox Editor for Analog Addiction, a website that covered the video game industry. The website enjoyed a healthy four years before we made the difficult decision to cease producing content, for a number of reasons. I’ve got experience writing opinion, critique and features about the video game industry and feel confident that I can branch out into other industries.

Some of my favourite articles from Analog Addiction include my feature article on the state of the video game industry in Australia, my analysis of Halo’s protagonist Master Chief, and a more comedic piece comparing the protagonist of Watch_Dogs to Batman.

Notable reviews for this year include NBA2K17, Overwatch and The Witcher 3’s Blood and Wine expansion (all of which are great games).

Due to my background and it being a main hobby of mine, Think First Entertainment will tend to focus on video games, while dabbling in other entertainment mediums.

As a one person team, I can’t guarantee daily content, but I can promise that you’ll want to come back every time I new article is posted.

Welcome to Think First Entertainment!

Thoughtful, entertaining, unique