I recorded The Arrival off of Cinemax on March 3rd. Having just watched it, I am 95% sure that it is not the same movie as the Arrival that I saw in theaters last fall.
It’s true that both films deal with the arrival of aliens and feature scenes that take place in space ships. And it’s also true that both films involve scientists trying to figure out what the aliens want. However, The Arrival that I recorded featured far more of Charlie Sheen than I remembered being in the Arrival that I saw in theaters. Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner were nowhere to be seen but Charlie Sheen was all over the freaking place.
And I mean all of Charlie Sheen. The Arrival was made back in 1996 and I guess that Charlie Sheen was still working out back then because, seriously, he is either naked or, at the very least, shirtless for the majority of the movie. What’s funny is that, with a few minor exceptions, there’s rarely a reason for him to be naked. I guess someone just said, “We might as well record Charlie Sheen looking fit and healthy while we still can…”
The Arrival is a relatively serious movie. Oh, it has moments of humor but it’s all Hollywood blockbuster humor. It’s not a comedy by any means. It’s always strange seeing Charlie Sheen in a serious role because … well, he’s Charlie Sheen. Plus, he was never a particularly good dramatic actor. He walks through The Arrival with this grim look frozen on his face and that, combined with his muscular chest, makes him look like a killer robot from the future. You keep waiting for Charlie to say, “I’ll be back.”
Of course, Charlie Sheen isn’t playing a killer robot. He’s playing Zane Zaminsky, an astronomer who works for the government. Or, at least, he did work for the government until he detected an alien signal coming from a nearby star. He’s fired and blackballed by his boss, Phil (Ron Silver). Unable to get work, Zane does what anyone would do. He and Kiki (Tony T. Johnson), the streetwise neighbor kid, set up a DIY astronomy lab in his basement.
At least, that’s what I think he did. I kind of had a hard time following The Arrival‘s plot. It all seemed a little bit overcomplicated, especially when savvy viewers will have already guessed that 1) the aliens are real, 2) Phil is an alien, 3) there’s a big government conspiracy involved, 4) and Zane has stumbled across it.
What are the aliens doing on the planet? To figure that out, Zane’s going to have to go to Mexico and meet with climatologist Illana Green (Lindsay Crouse). However, we already know what the aliens are doing. They’re attempting to destroy the environment so that they can wipe out humanity. We know this because that’s what aliens are always trying to do! They’re always either trying to save the environment or destroy it. My personal theory is that Bill Nye, The Science Guy is actually an alien. It explains a lot.
Anyway, it may sound like I’m criticizing The Arrival but it was actually kind of a fun movie in its dumb way. It’s a serious movie but it’s also kind of a silly movie. Any film that features Charlie Sheen as anyone other than Charlie Sheen is going to be watchable just on a WTF sort of level. Beyond that, Ron Silver makes for a rather convincing alien and director David Twohy keeps the action moving quickly. Several of Twohy’s shots are memorably atmospheric, even if they often do feature a bearded and naked Charlie Sheen.
Is The Arrival as good as Arrival? HELL NO! Arrival is one of the greatest science fiction films ever made. The Arrival is a rather minor sci-fi melodrama but it’s fun nonetheless. Just don’t expect it to make any sense. To quote the bard, John Lennon, “Turn off your mind, relax, and float downstream.”