Taglines: For centuries we’ve been watching the skies, when we should have been watching our backs.
The film starts with NCAR climatologist Ilana Green (Lindsay Crouse) examining a poppy field and remarking that it “shouldn’t be here”. It is revealed that the poppy field is in the middle of the Arctic.
Zane Zaminsky (Charlie Sheen), a radio astronomer working for SETI, discovers an extraterrestrial radio signal from Wolf 336, a star 14 light years from Earth. Zane reports this to his supervisor, Phil Gordian (Ron Silver) at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), but Phil dismisses the claims.
Zane soon finds that he has been fired because of supposed budget cuts, and blacklisted, preventing him from working at other telescopes. Taking a job as a television satellite installer, he creates his own telescope array using his customers’ dishes in the neighborhood, operating it secretly from his attic with help of his young next door neighbor, Kiki (Tony T. Johnson).
Zane again locates the radio signal, but it is drowned out by a terrestrial signal from a Mexican radio station. Zane attempts to tell his former coworker, Calvin (Richard Schiff), but finds he has just died suspiciously from carbon monoxide poisoning. Zane travels to the fictional town of San Marsol in Mexico and finds that the local radio station, from which the signal apparently originated, was burnt to the ground.
Searching the area around town, he comes across a new power plant. There, he meets Ilana Green, and tries to help protect her atmospheric analysis equipment from the plant’s overzealous security forces. While in custody at the plant, Ilana explains that the Earth’s temperature has recently risen several degrees, melting the polar ice. She is investigating the power plant, one of several recently built across the developing world, that appears to be the cause of this increase.
The two are released, but without Ilana’s equipment. Surprisingly, Zane realizes one of the guards could pass as the identical twin of his former boss, Phil. As Zane and Ilana regroup, Phil instructs some agents, posing as gardeners, to release an alien device in Zane’s attic that creates a miniature black hole, consuming all of Zane’s equipment. Zane leaves Ilana to again investigate the power plant and she is soon killed by scorpions planted in her room.
The Arrival is a 1996 science fiction horror film directed by David Twohy and starring Charlie Sheen, and co-starring Lindsay Crouse, Ron Silver, Teri Polo, and Richard Schiff. Sheen stars as radio astronomer Zane Zaminsky who discovers evidence of intelligent alien life and quickly gets thrown into the middle of a conspiracy that turns his life upside down.
Despite praise from critics and audiences alike, the film only grossed US$14 million in the domestic market with a budget of an estimated US$25 million. Part of this was due to high-visibility marketing campaign for the release of Independence Day just over a month later, which also received a mixed critical response but went on to become a box office phenomenon. However, The Arrival had a rather successful run overseas, partly because the B-rated actor Charlie Sheen still maintained high popularity overseas.
The Arrival (1996)
Directed by: David Twohy
Starring: Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Crouse, Teri Polo, Ron Silver, Phyllis Applegate, Leon Rippy, Javier Morga, Catalina Botello, David Villalpando, Georg Lillitsch
Screenplay by: David Twohy
Production Design by: Michael Novotny
Cinematography by: Hiro Narita
Film Editing by: Martin Hunter
Costume Design by: Mayes C. Rubeo
Set Decoration by: Enrique Estévez Hermelindo, Melo Hinojosa
Art Direction by: Héctor Romero, Anthony Stabley
Music by: Arthur Kempel
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sci-fi violence and terror, and for brief language.
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: May 31, 1996