The Arrival (1996)

Screenwriter David Twohy (TERMINAL VELOCITY, THE FUGITIVE) makes 
his directorial debut with this crafty, sci-fi thriller that gets 
*my* vote as the most-substantive movie of the summer.  So far.  A 
bug-eyed Charlie Sheen is very effective as the beefy radio 
astronomer who hears something that he shouldn't while on "dish 
duty."  He presents the audio tape to his NASA boss (Ron Silver), 
who immediately takes two actions:  he fires the boy and destroys 
the tape.  This and other whiffs of conspiracy take our obsessive 
hero into his own attic, where he ingeniously constructs his own 
listening station, and then to Mexico, to trace a similar signal's 
origin and to bump into another scientist and fellow mystery seeker 
(Lindsay Crouse).

More of a head trip than a heart-stopper, THE ARRIVAL fulfills two 
basic requirements of good escapist fare:  it keeps us guessing and 
keeps us from questioning.  (The movie is certainly better-plotted 
than either TWISTER or MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE, but that isn't saying 
much.)  In addition to his well-proven writing skills, David Twohy 
also demonstrates a strong command of the camera.  The opening 
sequence is impressive (I won't ruin the surprise), as are two 
scenes set in a seedy Mexican hotel.  The fate that befalls a 
bathtub is a howler, as is watching a certain character get ready 
for bed in a room full of scorpions.  Shameless manipulation and 
it's a gas.  With so many good things going for it, THE ARRIVAL 
still could use a sharper, more-visceral edge.  This is solid, but 
never spectacular summer fare.  Not in the way the sells Happy 
Meals or inspires sequels.  (Rated "PG-13"/110 min.)

Grade: B

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: June 8, 1996

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