The Arrival (1996)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Alien Film, Sci-Fi Action  |   Release Date - May 31, 1996 (USA)  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - Mexico , United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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Review by Karl Williams

In his sophomore directorial effort, screenwriter David Twohy creates yet another underrated, inventive science fiction adventure, one of the very few solid films for star Charlie Sheen in the 1990s. Twohy has a lot of fun with the conventions of his genre, spinning old saws such as alien invasion, terraforming, and the obligatory protagonist paranoia into new and intelligent directions. Okay, global warming isn't all that fresh but it's more contemporary than, say, the aliens need to deplete Earth's undefined "resources," the hackneyed premise of both Independence Day (1996) and Battlefield Earth (2000) (what, the alien home worlds in those films ran out of water, beef, and coal?). If Sheen is a miscast as a tech wizard (other actors better at playing smart and available on limited budgets having been presumably unavailable), the rest of the cast is pretty sharp. Teri Polo provides her usual workmanlike performance as the supportive, attractive love interest with a twist and oily Ron Silver is typically loathsome as an up-to-no-good villain. The film's effects, while limited, are decent, while the tight script, no-frills direction, and briskly edited pace keep things moving along fast enough that one barely notices this sturdy thriller seems to have been produced on a made-for-TV budget. The Arrival (1996) might not be the biggest sci-fi spectacle of its year, having been trampled in the Independence Day onslaught, but like most of Twohy's other behind-the-camera projects, it earns the shelf-life respect it's garnering on video and cable.