In Theaters This Weekend: Reviews of 'Arrival,' 'Almost Christmas,' 'Shut In' and 'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Read what THR's film critics are saying about films opening Friday.

Aliens, a mentally unstable psychologist and a sobering look at American patriotism are among what's headed to theaters this weekend in Arrival, Almost Christmas, Shut In and Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.

Read on to find out what The Hollywood Reporter's critics are saying about the weekend's new offerings, and click here to see how they're expected to perform at the box office.


In his newest film, Sicario director Denis Villeneuve redefines the concept of an alien invasion. "How refreshing to watch an alien contact movie in which no cities are destroyed or monuments toppled, and no adversarial squabbling distracts the human team from the challenges of their complex interspecies encounter," writes THR film critic David Rooney. Starring Amy Adams as divorced linguistics professor Dr. Louise Banks, the film explores what would happen if instead of shooting, we attempted to communicate with alien invaders. Around the planet 12 large, black, egg-shaped spacecrafts have landed in seemingly random locations. Alongside theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), Banks must ascend into one of these ships everyday for a few weeks in attempts of establishing some sort of communication with the aliens. "Remaining behind a transparent protective barrier, the aliens respond to Louise by fanning out a single tentacle into a splayed claw, which squirts an inky fluid that then forms into circular hieroglyphs," Rooney writes. "It may be a touch too subdued for the mainstream, but the movie has brains and originality, qualities these days too seldom valued in the genre." Read the full review here.

Almost Christmas

It's that time of year again. The time where people are finishing the last of their candy, picking out a turkey and hanging up multi-colored lights at the same time. Kicking off the holiday season, writer and director David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim, First Sunday) brings the audience an all too familiar gathering of the typical dysfunctional family. "You can rest assured that when a character confidently strides onto the roof of the house to fix a broken Santa Claus statue, he'll fall off and won't suffer a scratch," writes THR film critic Frank Scheck. "Not to mention adorable tykes constantly sprinkling nuggets of wisdom to the clueless adults." In the film, Danny Glover stars as widower Walter Meyers who has decided to gather his family at his house in Birmingham, Ala., for Christmas. Read the full review here.

Shut In

Naomi Watts plays child psychologist Mary Portman, who fears someone is in her house during a severe storm that has cut her and her paralyzed son, Steven (Stranger Things' Charlie Heaton), off from the rest of the world. Having recently lost her husband in a car accident, the same accident that paralyzed her son, Portman battles with the fear that she may be losing her mind. The film is directed by Farren Blackburn, who directed the season opener of Netflix's Daredevil along with other films and episodes.This film was not screened for critics; THR's review will post later Friday.

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Oscar-winning director Ang Lee turns up the use of technology in his new, incredibly vivid film. In stunning 4K resolution, 3D and shot at 120 frames per second, Lee attempts to do to the war movie genre what Arrival is doing to the alien movie genre. Starring Hollywood newcomer Joe Alwyn as 19-year-old army specialist Billy Lynn, Lee focuses on the troubles Lynn endures when returning from war to a society that is all too willing to thrust him into the spotlight for the sake of patriotism. "Most of the action revolves around the Thanksgiving Day 2004 culmination of a two-week victory tour," writes THR film critic David Rooney, "during which Billy and his fellow surviving Bravo Squad soldiers are paraded around America in a series of meet-and-greet photo ops designed to reinvigorate public support for the war, before they redeploy to Iraq." Read the full review here.