Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Arrival

The Arrival; science-fiction thriller, USA/ Mexico, 1996; D: David Twohy, S: Charlie Sheen, Ron Silver, Teri Polo

One night, SETI employee Zane Zaminski records an unusual signal from a star 14 lights years away from Earth. He hands the tape over to his superior, Gordian, insisting it is an alien signal. A few days later, Zane is fired from NASA, but constructs a new satellite dish at his home. Upon discovering the same signal coming from Mexico, he goes there and discovers an underground base run by aliens who are artificially causing global warming in order to make Earth more suitable for their colonization. Despite persecution, Zane and his girlfriend Chara tape Gordian into admitting the plan and broadcast it on TV.

Overshadowed by "Independence Day" released the same year, David Twohy's "The Arrival" still subsequently gained attention and turned into a minor cult film for its unbelievably audacious concept - that aliens are actually artificially causing global warming in order to "terraform" Earth according to their planet. What it lacks in limited budget and some omissions (it is somehow difficult to believe that aliens could assassinate so many people to keep their plan secret, but are unable to stop Zaminski) it compensates with a few clever ideas and inventive solutions (extraterrestrial miniature robots "disguised" as scorpions so that the assassination will look like an "accident"; the subtly ironic lecture in which the increasing temperatures of Mars are taken as an example of "terraforming"), whereas at least two moments are unforgettable: the ontological 10 minute sequence where Zaminski enters the underground alien base that culminates in the suspenseful elevator scene where an extraterrestrial disguised as a human is talking in an incomprehensible language to him and the truly "foreign" design of the aliens, who have knees bent "backwards" like a chicken. Charlie Sheen is an untypical choice for the paranoid hero, but copes well in the story, whereas the movie - despite the fact that the concept could have been exploited far more imaginatively - is engaging up until the end.


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