Tired of overhyped shows with big budget stars? Want to see an
old fashion grade B sci-fi flick? Well, I have just what you are
looking for, THE ARRIVAL. Within the parameters of this genre, THE
ARRIVAL is a fun and surprisingly good film. It is funny without ever
lapsing into self-parody. Even the hokey plot somehow evolves into
something bordering on plausibility if you just turn your brain off and
go with the flow.
In the opening, that I worried would be an omen for the audience,
scientist Ilana Green (Lindsay Crouse) looks out on a green field of
wildflowers in the Arctic and proclaims a single sentence, "Shouldn't
be here." It turns out that I was glad I was at this show, but in the
next scene when I saw nerdy Charlie Sheen as radio astronomer Zane
Ziminski, I began to worry again. Zane has classic bad glasses, a
goatee from the 60s, and a burr haircut to boot. A highly overdrawn
character to say the least.
Zane works at a Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
facility. One night he finally hears something out in space
communicating back to earth. When he plays the 42 second tape to his
boss at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Phil Gordian (Ron Silver), Zane
does not get the response he expects. Gordian tells him, "searching
for ETs in this political environment is a tough sell." He then goes
on to explain how Zane is being downsized out of his job effective
immediately. Zane is nonplused calling his find, "the premier
scientific discovery of the twentieth century."
As in most B movies, there are a couple of unnecessary romantic
subplots. Zane can not understand his beautiful wife and successful
stock broker Cher (Teri Polo). Looking at her he remarks, "Boolean
logic I trust. Algorithms I trust. Beautiful women are beyond me."
Soon the mysterious holes in the atmosphere that Ilana Green is
investigating and the communication from outer space that Zane Ziminski
(love that name) is digging into, become linked in a massive problem
for the entire planet. Along the way, the script mixes in a lot of
natural comedy, both in words and in action. Zane threatens Gordian
with, "What do I want to do? I want to blow a hole in your head and
donate your organs to science, but I've got a few questions first."
Later Gordian warns, "If you can't tend to your own planet, you don't
deserve to live here." The funniest scene in the show is the bathtub
one, which will have you in stitches. The show is also inventive, a
good example of this being how Zane extricates himself when trapped
THE ARRIVAL runs a little long at 1:55, but it keeps your interest
up. It is rated PG-13. There is no sex or nudity, and only a little
violence, mostly of the non-threatening sci-fi variety. Probably the
scariest scene involves big scorpions hidden in Green's bed. The show
would be fine for kids over say 8 and perhaps younger. I recommend the
picture to you and rate it ***.
Copyright © 1996 Steve Rhodes