Alien encounters are the premise for a thousand and one movies and rarely do they end without mass destruction.

But here Denis Villeneuve, the Canadian director behind last year’s critical smash Sicario and trusted with the much-hyped upcoming Blade Runner sequel, has done something remarkable and movingly different with the genre.

Arrival is so much more than a globe-hopping CGI action-fest.

When a dozen alien craft land at sites across earth, the world’s authorities scramble to work out their motives. Amy Adams is the grieving linguist Dr Louise Banks brought in to communicate with the race of seven-legged beings.

The five-time Oscar nominee’s quietly affecting performance pulls the film together as she and Jeremy Renner’s scientist Ian Donnelly look for the best while military bods around them seem determined the outcome must be confrontation: with the aliens, with the rest of the world, or both.

Adapted from Ted Chiang’s Story of Your Life, Eric Heisserer’s script throws up fascinating ideas about the importance of language, co-operation and how should society react what a new civilisation shows up uninvited.

In a world where immigration is such a flashpoint around the world, Arrival questions the kneejerk reaction and suspicion that says every visitor is an invader.

Despite being about alien ships, this feels real and it is edge of the seat stuff as we wait to see how the plot will unfold - aided by Johan Johannsson's foreboding score - all the while a mournful subplot about Banks’ little girl weaves sweetly in and out before dovetailing into a truly satisfying, thought-provoking conclusion.

Arrival is showing at BFI London Film Festival, which runs until October 16. It is out nationwide on November 10.

News Shopper: