The Arrival (1996)

the arrival poster 1996 movie
6.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 6/10

Some good moments

Feels average

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Arrival

Studio: Live Entertainment

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror

Release Date(s): May 31, 1996

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

the arrival signal charlie sheen

Sadly, I think you work at one of these satellite dishes this really is the excitement of a career

Radio astronomer Zane Zaminsky (Charlie Sheen) works at SETI and spends his days combing the skies for signs of extraterrestrial life.  When he and his partner Calvin (Richard Schiff) discover a signal with potential, his boss Phil Gordian (Ron Silver) buries it and fire Zane.  Zane suspects something bigger is happening and begins to research the signal which leads him to Mexico and a climatologist named Ilana Green (Lindsay Crouse) who is finding alarming changes in the Earth’s atmosphere.  Zane and Ilana are about to uncover something inhuman that could change the world…but will anyone believe them?

Written and directed by David Twohy, The Arrival is a science-fiction horror movie.  The film was released to relatively positive reviews but it underperformed at the box office.

The Arrival is one of those movies I saw and barely remembered.  There were a few specific things I did recall (the grasshopper like legs of the aliens and the ending) but largely the movie left me rather unmoved.  A rewatching of the film reminded me of the plot and still had the same effect.

the arrival alien

Dude…you’re not supposed to be here…now I’m going to have write a discrepancy report…thanks a lot

There isn’t really anything wrong with The Arrival.  The idea of aliens and conspiracy theories were jumping in the 1990s largely thanks to The X-Files, and The Arrival banked on the idea of aliens already being among us.  The plot is rather meandering in its direction with Sheen chasing the signal for much of the beginning of the film and then attempting to expose the aliens’ terraforming plans for Earth.  The introduction of Ilana’s character set to make a team effort, but Ilana fizzles out rather unceremoniously and is essentially replaced by Sheen’s ex-girlfriend Char (Teri Polo) and the neighbor kid Kiki (Tony T. Johnson) for the last third of the movie…it almost feels like the beginning and ending don’t match up as the same film.

Sheen is a decent lead, but the movie goes way out of its way to make him a dorky “average man”.  It feels a little over the top and unnecessary.  He can be a scientist and an average guy without being wacky and zany (but largely that is Charlie Sheen’s MO in movies).  Ron Silver always plays a good slimy guy but Lindsay Crouse and Teri Polo never get a chance to develop.  I do like Tony T. Johnson as the hanger-on kid, but he also seems unrealistic as a sidekick through the whole movie.

the arrival charlie sheen ron silver frozen

I’m a cool scientist now…so don’t mess with me

The movie does have some decent, early CGI effects mixed with practical effects.  As mentioned, the legs of the aliens are a weird backwards grasshopper and that is the most memorable thing about them (the rest of their design is rather generic).  The movie does have some decent sets, but the effects are often dated.

The Arrival isn’t a bad movie, but it feels like a movie that isn’t top tier in science-fiction, horror, or action.  It feels better than a straight-to-video style movie, but if you had seen it in the theater, it would have been disappointing.  Independence Day and its marketing is partially credited from blowing it out of the water a month later…and if you had gone to see The Arrival and a trailer for Independence Day, you’d probably want to see that movie more.  The Arrival was followed by a straight-to-video sequel Arrival II in 1998.

Related Links:

Arrival II (1998)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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