This film probably suffers mainly because it was over-sold to me as a very intelligent, genre-topping extravaganza that would challenge my concept of alien contact. It didn't. Honestly, I don't think it's very good. There's a few good concepts here, in particular the working through of the alien language, but it's all very flat and never really packs any sort of emotional punch.
The amazing twist, that makes you re-examine all that's gone before? A bit rubbish. And not as clever as it thinks it is. The fact that the day is basically saved by magic that somehow just happens in the last ten minutes because they've run out of time and need to mop the plot up? Godawful. Every other cast member than Amy Adams not really doing anything? What's the point.
Especially the bloody military. How stupid are they? I can't believe someone looked at this and said "Yep, squaddies are that thick". They obviously couldn't be. And the evil Chinese. My god, stereotype alert (I'm discounting the end of the film. You don't get to deus ex your way to consistent characters.)
If it's on.