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Zane, an astronomer, discovers intelligent alien life. But the aliens are keeping a deadly secret, and will do anything to stop Zane from learning it.

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1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Calvin
Shane ...
JPL Guard #1
...
Phil Gordian / Mexican Guard
...
Phyllis Applegate ...
Mrs. Roosevelt
Alan Coates ...
Terraformer
...
DOD #1
...
DOD #2
...
Co-worker
Tony T. Johnson ...
Kiki
Catalina Botello ...
N.C.A.R. Woman
Georg Lillitsch ...
Computer Tech
...
Cabbie
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Storyline

Zane (Charlie Sheen), a young, mild-mannered astronomer discovers an extraterrestrial radio signal. After being fired from his organization for reporting this to his superior, he takes a chance on discovering the truth: that his workplace is not quite what it seems to be and a sinister conspiracy is at work. The aliens are keeping a deadly secret, and will stop at nothing to prevent Zane from learning it. Written by vishakbt1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The greatest danger facing our world has been the planet's best kept secret...until now. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sci-fi violence and terror, and for brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

31 May 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Shockwave  »

Box Office

Budget:

$25,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$184,261 (USA) (26 July 1996)

Gross:

JPY 20,609,500 (Japan) (15 November 1996)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The length of the first signal is 42 seconds. The number 42 is, in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, "The Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything", calculated by an enormous supercomputer over a period of 7.5 million years. See more »

Goofs

Ilana tells Zane that the flower field she examined at the beginning of the film is 90 miles from the North Pole. Even if the ice pack melted, there would be no soil for plants to grow in, as the nearest land is more than 400 miles away. See more »

Quotes

Zane Ziminski: I come to you with what may be the preeminent discovery of the 20th century, the possibility of extra-solar life, and I get shit-canned for it?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Half-Life (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Ramblin' On My Mind
Performed by Robert Lockwood Jr.
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User Reviews

The first sign of proof that David Twohy is the next John Carpenter.
18 May 2003 | by See all my reviews

*** 1/2 out of ****

Writer/director David Twohy accomplished the near-impossible in the summer of 1996; he delivered a fun, fast-paced AND intelligent sci-fi thriller with The Arrival, an intriguing, thought-provoking film that was unfairly ignored in theaters at the time of its release (most viewers chose to see Twister, M:I, Independence Day). The movie has a classic premise about a radio astronomer (Charlie Sheen) who receives a signal from outer space that may or may not have come from extraterrestrial life.

To say anymore would be unforgivable, as Twohy packs in believable twists and turns throughout the plot, which is fun without insulting the brain, and complex without ever bogging down in mind-numbing confusion. The script does have a few head-scratchers here and there (I was particularly miffed that Lindsay Crouse's character, an environmentalist, wasn't familiar with the concept of terraforming) and some contrivances, but they're hardly bothersome and aren't noticeable until a second viewing.

As good a screenwriter as Twohy is, he's even more adept as a director (further proven by Pitch Black, a superbly crafted deep-space thriller with a script not even half as smart as The Arrival's). With great pacing and precise editing, Twohy builds momentum with each discovery Sheen unfolds, until it culminates to an edge-of-the-seat climax that's quite satisfying (unlike...cough...cough..."V: the Final Battle", Independence Day).

The cast is all-around effective, with Sheen delivering a surprisingly terrific performance as the paranoid astronomer. It's great to see an intelligent protagonist who thinks his way out of tight jams, rather than shooting and blowing up everything in sight. No one else gets half of Sheen's screentime, but Ron Silver is nicely ambiguous as his boss, and Teri Polo, however underused, is fine as Sheen's girlfriend. Lindsay Crouse also makes a good impression as an environmentalist studying some strange activity.

On a technical level, some sci-fi fans might be a little disappointed. Those weaned on "V" and ID4 will notice the lack of large-scale special effects. Sorry, no disc-shaped motherships here. Still, the visuals present are mostly decent, certainly passable enough that they don't become a distraction to the plot. Despite the use of CGI in its more primitive stages (this was '96, after all) the effects are still occasionally excellent and imaginative, such as the spherical object those tight-lipped men wield. Composer Arthur Kempel's score adds a bit more tension to the already excruciating suspense, and evokes a creepy atmosphere during the film's quieter moments.

Remember, folks, The Arrival is a rarity, a once in a while example of how pure movie magic can be created when we've got dedicated filmmakers who want to intrigue the audience rather than catering to demographics just for the sake of box office returns. Forget Independence Day, The War of the Worlds, or V and its sequel, The Arrival is the most satisfying cinematic depiction of alien invasion to date.


48 of 61 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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This movie is so 90s it hurts FootwearQuality
6.2 ?! Totally underrated movie cmccabe43
Painfully Underatted Movie!!! djtrix26
One of the best sci-fi movies ever! Frozilla_Firefox
'Do you want to see the ruins, my friend?' erinw91
This is Half-Life: The Movie Goldie15
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