Written and Directed by David Thowy
I’ll confess that this review has little to do with rock and roll. The Blu-ray disc does contain a killer 7.1 DTS HD surround sound mix, and that will appeal to those who appreciate a good 7.1 soundtrack. I haven’t had the chance to review many 7.1 releases here. Other than that, the only connection is that Charlie Sheen parties like a rock star, so he’s in the club honorarily at this point. He did in fact proclaim himself a “total freakin’ rock star from Mars,” and I’m not going to argue with Charlie Sheen.
When this movie came out back in the 90’s, I snagged a neat widescreen VHS copy in a clamshell case, which ironically has more special features than the Blu-ray or DVD releases! It’s weird and disappointing to me that the interviews from the VHS version are not available anymore, but whatever — when I found this disc at a cut-rate price I decided to make the leap from the tape to Blu.
The good: The 7.1 surround mix is really excellent. When Charlie Sheen first discovers an alien signal, it’s rotating around the room in a really cool way. There aren’t many discs out there in 7.1, but if you’ve got the equipment, here’s a good sci-fi movie to try out. The hi-def transfer also looked quite good.
The bad: Oh dear Lord, some of these mid-90’s movies have the worst CG effects. The Arrival has some of the worst I’ve seen in a movie of this stature.
Plot summary: Charlie Sheen is Zane Zaminski, an astronomer working for the JPL in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Mirroring the plot of the concurrently released (but much higher budgeted) Contact, Zaminski finds a “wow” signal and takes it to his boss, Phil Gordian (Ron Silver). But there may be a conspiracy afoot — Gordian secretly destroys the tape, the only proof of the signal. He has Zaminski fired, and attempts to destroy his credibility in the scientific community. Why?
The firing scene is especially enjoyable today, as Zane Zaminski has a paranoid public meltdown foreshadowing that of his tiger blood drinking, eternally winning, rock-star-wizard real-life counterpart. It’s amusing from that point of view, but it’s also a really cool scene that Sheen and Silver both nail.
What follows is a series of mysteries, cover-ups and alien intrigue that links Zane to Ilana Green (Lindsay Crouse, Iceman) in Mexico. Dr. Green has found flowers growing in a small patch of grass in the frigid Arctic, and links it to a strange spike in CO2 emissions. But how is that happening, and to what ends?
Several exciting action sequences are to be enjoyed before Zane discovers what is really going on down in Mexico and why Gordian turned on him. It’s not a monumental earth-shattering revelation, nor is it a total surprise, but I won’t spoil it for you regardless. The Arrival is a fun movie, and that’s all it’s really intended to be, so I’ll save the fun for you.
For the price I paid ($11), this disc was totally worthwhile regardless of the fact that it has zero special features. It’s a decent yarn, the sound is awesome, and it’s always nice to upgrade from VHS to hi-def.