The Arrival (1996 film)

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The Arrival
The Arrival, Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed byDavid Twohy
Written byDavid Twohy
Produced byRobert W. Cort
Ted Field
StarringCharlie Sheen
Lindsay Crouse
Teri Polo
Richard Schiff
Leon Rippy
Tony T. Johnson
Ron Silver
CinematographyHiro Narita
Edited byMartin Hunter
Music byArthur Kempel
Distributed byOrion Pictures
Release date
May 31, 1996 (1996-05-31)
Running time
115 minutes
CountriesUnited States
Budget$25 million
Box office$14 million[1]

The Arrival is a 1996 science fiction horror film written and 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.


The film starts with NCAR climatologist Ilana Green examining a poppy field and remarking that it "shouldn't be here". It is revealed that the poppy field is in the northern end of Greenland.

Zane Zaminsky, 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, at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), but Phil dismisses the findings. 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 dish 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.

Zane again locates the radio signal, but it is drowned out by a terrestrial signal from a Mexican radio station. Zane attempts to consult his former coworker, Calvin, but finds he has just died suspiciously, purportedly 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 interfering signal apparently originated, was just burnt to the ground. Searching the area around town, he comes across a recently constructed 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 and abruptly risen a few degrees, melting the polar ice and shifting the ecosystem. She is investigating the power plant, one of several recently built across the developing world, that appears to be the cause of this intensified increase. The two are released, but without Ilana's equipment. Surprisingly, Zane notices that one of the guards appears to be an 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 an apparent 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.

Zane discovers the plant doubles as a front for an underground alien base. The aliens are able to disguise themselves with an external skin to infiltrate human society. Zane finds that all of the bases expel large amounts of greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Zane is discovered, but escapes back into the nearby town and attempts to convince the local inspector of the situation. However, alien agents bring Ilana's body to the police station, making Zane a suspect in her death; Zane escapes and sneaks back into the United States. He accosts Phil on the JPL grounds, forcing him to admit that the aliens are trying to raise the Earth's temperature to not only kill off humans by greatly exacerbating anthropogenic climate change, but to make the planet hospitable for themselves. Zane surreptitiously records the conversation and once Phil discovers the recording he sends agents to stop Zane.

Zane returns home to find his attic devoid of equipment. He figures out the most feasible way to widely broadcast the tape is to go to a nearby large satellite uplink and beam a signal directly to a hacked news satellite, overriding it and broadcasting his tape worldwide. With the help of his girlfriend Char and Kiki, he travels to a large radio astronomy array, hoping to use one of the dishes as a satellite ground station, but Phil and his agents soon disable the telescope/satellite controls from the main building. Wondering how they were found so quickly, Zane briefly suspects Char of being an alien, until they are both attacked by one of Phil's agents. Zane leaves the tape with Kiki and instructs him to transmit it when he gives the order. He and Char then sneak over to the telescope's base and barricade themselves in the control room. Zane makes the necessary adjustments and tells Kiki to activate the tape, but Kiki reveals himself to be an alien agent and he opens the door to admit Phil, who confiscates the tape.

Phil and his agents break down the door to the satellite control room with a van, but Zane freezes them with liquid nitrogen vapors. As he works to free the tape stuck in Phil's frozen jacket, one of the agents drops a sphere which starts to form another, larger, singularity in the room. Phil begins to defrost, and tries to grab Zane's arm, but Zane smashes off Phil's arm with a fire axe. Zane and Char escape through the radio telescope station's access shaft, exiting safely onto the collapsed dish before the device implodes most of the telescope dish's base. Below them they see Kiki; before he flees, Zane tells him to tell the aliens that he will soon broadcast this tape. In the film's epilogue, Zane's conversation with Phil is broadcast across the globe.


  • Charlie Sheen as Zane Zaminsky, a SETI researcher
  • Lindsay Crouse a Ilana Green, a scientist researching the effect of greenhouse gases in the Arctic
  • Teri Polo as Char, an investment banker and Zane's girlfriend
  • Richard Schiff as Calvin, Zane's colleague at SETI
  • Leon Rippy as DOD #1, the lead agent hired by Phil
  • Tony T. Johnson as Kiki, a neighbor of Zane's
  • Ron Silver as Phil Gordian, Zane and Calvin's supervisor at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
    • Silver also appears as a Mexican guard whom Zane meets in the fictional city of San Marsol


Prior to the film's release, the working title was Shockwave. Filming took place primarily in Mexico, with additional scenes filmed at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory. The alien creatures were all digitally created for the movie by Pacific Data Images. Charlie Sheen had previously collaborated with David Twohy on Terminal Velocity, and Twohy had written the main role intending for Sheen to star.[2]


Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics; at review aggregation website, Rotten Tomatoes it has a rating of 65% based on reviews from 34 critics, with an average score of 6.23/10, and its consensus states that "The Arrival is stylish and inventive and offers a surprisingly smart spin on the alien invasion genre."[3]

Box office[edit]

The film was a commercial failure. It only grossed US$14 million in the North American domestic market, against an estimated production budget of 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 went on to become a box office phenomenon. However, The Arrival had a rather successful run internationally, partly because Charlie Sheen still maintained high popularity worldwide at the time.[4]

Home media[edit]

A Blu-ray version of the film was released April 21, 2009. Unlike the laserdisc release, the Blu-ray version includes no special features. The laserdisc release included commentary, documentaries and alternative endings not included in the Blu-ray or DVD releases.


A sequel, Arrival II, was released on November 6, 1998.

Video game[edit]

The Arrival was released on Windows in 1997.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^[bare URL]
  2. ^ Johnson, Kim Howard (July 1996). "Alien on Arrival". Starlog (228): 84–88 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ "The Arrival". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 27, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ Waxman, Sharon (October 26, 1990). "Hollywood Attuned to World Markets". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 27, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "The Arrival (Video Game 1997)", IMDb, Amazon, retrieved October 27, 2019

External links[edit]