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Intriguing sci-fi thriller stars Sheen as a brilliant but paranoid astronomer whose obsession with his quest to discover intelligent life puts him at odds with his neglected girlfriend. He discovers a strange signal from outer space, but is fired when he tries to make it public. Deciding to take matters into his own hands, he stumbles upon the existence of aliens that have already invaded the Earth and are using a sophisticated technological scheme to try and take it over. Brainy thriller abandons guns, explosions, and car chases in favor of actual science and clever plotting. Starts off slow, but only gets more and more interesting as it goes along, with an effectively edgy performance from Sheen that's right on target. ***
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What makes The Arrival so good is that it's paranoia could be real. Where
as scientists tell us that global warming is the result of smokestacks and
deforestization and factories, this film has other ideas. And the ones
are in here are a little more frightening than what the scientists think.
Think for one second all that has happened over the last decade or so.
Think of all the ecological changes that we are facing right now. These
crisis are all a result of our greed and our industrializaton, which in a
way can be a euphanism of greed. And this film takes all that we know
ozones and animal extinction and global warming and such and puts its own
little spin on it. What if a species that is greater than us has looked
what we are and decided that we are too stupid to take care of our own
planet so they will take it away from us. After all, according to the
theories that this movie subscribes to, we are wasting and destroying this
planet anyway, why not speed up the process?
Charlie Sheen stars as an astronomer who thinks he hears a definitive signal from outer space. But when he brings it to his boss he learns that due to budget cut backs his department is being eliminated. So his signal theory falls on deaf ears. But from here on out the movie becomes almost Hitchcockian in the way that you have a character that knows something that no one will believe, not his superiors, not his girlfriend, not even his friends. And so it is up to him to try and find a way to convince everyone that he is not crazy and that he is telling the truth. And what makes this film work so well is two things really. The first being the story that was written David Twohy. He also wrote The Fugitve so we know right away he is a good writer. Here he has some excellent characters and crisp dialogue for them to speak. The script is a real positive here. But the second thing about this film that really makes it work is the portrayal that Sheen gives of Zane. Sheen always looks confused and amazed at the same time. He can't believe what it is that he has uncovered and his expressions and his mannerisms really do his character justice. I can honestly say that the last time I saw fear like this from anyone that saw aliens first hand was in James Cameron's incredible 1986 film Aliens. It has taken ten years for someone else to get an actor to show true fear when it comes to the subject of ETs. Most films have the stars crack clever jokes about the aliens that they are meeting for the first time. They rarely show fear but in The Arrival, Sheen is always afraid. He is never shown as anything more than a normal human being that has uncovered an ugly truth about the true agenda of what the aliens are realy up to. His performance is one of the best things about this film.
The Arrival is intense. It doesn't stop for a breather too often and it is very intelligent. It has interesting opinions and it also makes you question our own intentions when it comes to the well being of our planet. Most people passed this one over when it came out because Independence Day came out a mere month later, but as good as ID4 was, this is a different kind of movie. It is more serious and has an opinion on some very political issues. It never runs out of steam and it is very entertaining. I highly recommend that you give it a chance.
*** 1/2 stars out of ****
The Arrival remains the little seen and little known sci-fi thriller released the same summer as Independence Day. Most people opted to watch the latter film for all its big action scenes, which left The Arrival a box office loser, a destination it most definitely did not deserve. Since then, it has gained some life on video and will probably gain more popularity since the film marks the debut of director David Twohy, who is proving to be a force to reckon with in Hollywood, especially after his success with Pitch Black.
Zane Ziminski (Charlie Sheen) is a brilliant radio astronomer who, along with his partner (Richard Schiff), receive a radio signal which Ziminski believes was emitted from an extraterrestrial source. But as soon as he hands the recording over to his boss Phil Gordian (Ron Silver), everything seems to go wrong. Zane is fired, his estranged girlfriend Charlotte (Teri Polo) is transferred, his partner dies of an apparent suicide, and the tape of the recording has seemingly vanished.
Ziminski's new job, as a cable repairman, gives him access to his neighborhood's attena dishes, which he lines up together into a phased array in hopes of receiving the signal again. To his luck, the signal returns, but it's coming from a small town called San Marsol in Mexico. Heading down there, he meets a scientist named Ilana Green (Lindsay Crouse), who is down there studying the rising temperatures of third-world countries. As Ziminski continues his investigation, he believes he may have uncovered a worldwide alien conspiracy.
What makes The Arrival as great a film as it is is because of the story, which is smart and interesting. Rather than giving us mindless action scenes, writer/director Twohy prefers to keep our attention with an intelligent story. Despite this being his first time behind the camera, he proves himself an adroit filmmaker, weaving the story together brilliantly, and unfolding little plot surprises along the way.
The Arrival is primarily a thriller, and Twohy is more than competent at creating action and suspense (witness Pitch Black), both elements of which are sharply executed in this film. The final hour of the film is full of edge-of-the-seat excitement. Composer Arthur Kempel's score also adds an extra bit of tension. The film moves at a lightning pace and there's never a loss of momentum or a lag in the running time, which runs smoothly throughout all 115 minutes.
The cast is also strong, with Charlie Sheen taking top acting honors. I'm a little suprised of all the statements claiming he was miscast for the role. If anything, he's the only person who could play the part, and he comes through superbly, never failing to convince for a moment. Teri Polo is decent as Sheen's girlfriend, and while her character isn't developed as well, she still makes an impression in her limited screentime. Ron Silver is utterly chilling as Ziminski's boss, who wisely underplays the role, rather than chewing the scenery.
It's truly a breath of fresh air to watch a sci-fi thriller that relies on logic and plausibility to carry the story. For viewers who enjoy a fine story and believable science with their sci-fi, The Arrival is a true must see.
*** 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.
I had the pleasure of watching this film in the theater and to be quite
honest that is the way it should be seen. Its a well done movie about
aliens visiting earth, overall the story is nothing original (but it does
have more then a few tricks up its sleeve) and is your typical Alien
Watching this on television years later its hard to appreciate just how well this film was shot. One scene in particular involving a large dish and someone almost falling off the side of it almost caused me to make a mess in my pants when first watching the film on the big screen.
When I saw it the theater was mostly empty (not good for the movie, but it probably allowed us to enjoy it some more) and it was its first run (did it have a second?). Its sad the film didn't do as well as it should have, at the time it was the best alien related movie in theaters (I seem to remember independence day being out at the same time).
My one gripe is a somewhat weak ending (especially considering the strength of the rest of the movie). Overall it is an entertaining and somewhat thought provoking film that you won't regret watching unless you don't like movies that emphasize suspense instead of action. And there is a LOT of suspense in this film. It doesn't skimp on action either but it saves it for the end of the movie where it belongs and makes some sense.
Some people may not like its message either but I didn't have a problem with it and it certainly didn't get overly preachy. People voice their opinions on screen just as someone would do in real life, and I don't have a problem with that. The real focus of the movie is aliens, not the environment. If you fixate on the environmental message in the movie then you probably have some issues or just don't get this type of movie. Global warming is more of a subplot that leads Mr Sheen in a certain direction and nothing more.
The special effects are fairly spartan but effective and nicely creepy when they are used.
Some of the characters are kind of annoying but are necessary, and don't detract from the film overall.
A worthwhile rental, especially if you have a large TV to watch it on.
This aliens vs. earth film succeeded because it added humor to the
suspense story and Charlie Sheen did a great job adding to that with an
expression-filled face that made he and this film fun to watch.
Story-wise, most of it made no sense as Sheen got out of one impossible scrap after another but good sci-fi special effects and suspense helped make the story interesting and fast-moving. You get caught up in the story and don't care if their are plenty of holes in it. It's also pretty tame, language-wise. Lindsay Crouse provides the female interest and Ron Silver the villain, a familiar role for him.
The film was popular enough to make a sequel, but that horrible. Don't waste your time on that one.
At least "The Arrival" doesn't fall into the car chases and gratuitous explosions category of sci-fi. It has some semblance of scientific reason, and some pretty original ideas. The vortex balls were an intriguing touch, and the gigantic satellite dish scenes quite effective. It is necessary to suspend disbelief on several occasions, but overall the film succeeds as entertainment. Having the kid along seemed like kind of a stretch as well. If you can look past the faults in logic, "The Arrival" is totally acceptable. If you are going to tear it apart for every little thing, then I suggest you look elsewhere. - MERK
When the astronomer Zane Ziminski (Charlie Sheen) receives signal from
a distant star, he reports and gives all the evidences to his chief,
Phil Gordian (Ron Silver), and is immediately fired. Zane becomes
obsessed to locate the signals again and finds a transmission to the
outer space in the same wave from Mexico, and he flies to the place.
Meanwhile, the scientist Ilana Green (Lindsay Crouse) is investigating
the unexplained raise of the temperature in Third World countries and
also goes to Mexico for further research. They meet each other in a
small Mexican town, where Zane finds that aliens are preparing to
annihilate the human race and preparing Earth for their occupation.
"The Arrival" has a good story that uses the abnormal raise of temperature and change in the climate on Earth as part of a plot of invasion of our planet by aliens. Director David Twohy follows the same style of John Carpenter in this movie. However, there are two problems: the first one is the permanent lunatic expression of Charlie Sheen, who also keeps insane attitudes along the whole story, giving a total lack of credibility to his character. The second one is probably the budget, or a badly developed screenplay, with flaws along the narrative. Anyway, this good sci-fi film entertains and has a good ecological message in the end, particularly the quote: "If you can't tend to your own planet, you don't deserve to live here". My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "A Invasão" ("The Invasion")
note: On 23 August 2016, I saw this film again.
I was a little bit late getting to the theater to see The Arrival. The
movie was slated to start ten minutes past the hour and I didn't arrive
there until five after. Then I had to go through the concession stand
crowd. When I finally reached the theater -- the large screen was
engrossed by a huge satellite disk and there was some guy talking.
"Damn," I thought. "I just missed the start of the movie." It wasn't
three seconds after that realization that I had another one. "This
isn't the movie. It's a commercial." A commercial which it turned out
for one of the large multi-billion dollar phone companies. Talk about
Some people have called 'The Arrival' a thinking man's science fiction movie. While the jury is still out on that, I will say it's not stupid either. It is however one more of those 'one man saves the world' flicks. Which are never terribly realistic, but on their own terms, entertain. Charlie Sheen plays Zane Zaminski. A smart, but soon-to-be paranoid astrophysicist who has the slithery Godian (Ron Silver) for a boss. One day watching the satellites some anomaly passes his screen. Suddenly the search is on. What was it? WHO was it? Not letting the subject go gets him fired from his job and deeper and deeper he journeys into the paranoia.
The Arrival is one part use your mind, two parts conspiracy theory. As Zane takes it upon himself to get to the bottom of things and find out who's involved and to what lengths they'll go to suppress everything. Soon we start to see elements straight out of the X Files. Aliens... conspiracy... colonization. The story has it's own set of implausibilities, but things move at such a pace that there isn't much time to question them. Zane knows something is going on and the deeper he digs the more we find out. It's all about the ride. Could one man really stop such things from happening? Probably not, but that doesn't stop 'The Arrival' from being a fun time.
Charlie Sheen plays Zane, a radio astronomer who accidentally discovers
an alien signal from space, that also has origins on Earth. When he
tries to tell his boss(Ron Silver, very good) he downplays and denies
the importance of the find. Zane then finds out he has been fired, and
the tape he gave to his boss disappears, so now very suspicious, he
undertakes his own investigation, which leads him to an alarming truth
about aliens who are indeed very much among us...
Well written and directed by David Twohy, this science fiction film is a pleasant surprise, and Charlie Sheen is appealing and believable as the man determined to find the truth, and warn the world; sounds like a certain FBI agent from "The X-Files"...
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