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George At 

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Featured Movie Reviews

The Arrival


If you’re going to watch only one film called “Arrival”, about alien visitors, make it Denis Villenueve’s 2016 incredibly smart thriller. But if you are in the mood for a smaller budget and more old-school take, you might be surprised by just how good THE ARRIVAL is from twenty years earlier, in 1996.

One of the first films to use solely computer graphics for its aliens, it hearkens back to a day when its lead actor Charlie Sheen was known more for his acting on screen in films like “Platoon” and “Wall Street” than his off screen antics.

Sheen is quite good as Zane, a radio astronomer who discovers a signal from a distant world that signifies intelligent life. When every attempt to let his superiors know about it quickly disappears and the others that know about it are quickly found dead, Zane heads off to Mexico on the trail of the signal’s signs.

Once there, he encounters a conspiracy on not just a global but intergalactic level.

You have to credit writer David Twohy (The Fugitive, Pitch Black, Waterworld) with a clever story and a sure hand for a first time director. The story is never less than interesting and keeps you engaged. There is more intrigue and suspense than massive battles or explosions, and that’s not a bad thing.

Lindsay Crouse (The Verdict) is a global warming scientist following a different trail to Mexico that provides a key piece of the puzzle to Zane and Teri Polo (Meet the Parents) is Zane’s girlfriend, who is running out of patience with his constant paranoia.

It’s interesting to see Sheen actually acting well, long before his spiral into addiction. You’ll root for Zane as he goes up against crazy odds. He spars really well with the late Ron Silver (Ali, Timecop) as his boss, who appears to have plenty of reasons to bury Zane’s discovery.

The effects were cutting edge at the time but haven’t aged that well, more interesting now than they are believable, but at the time they were startling. Filmed mostly in Mexico, it makes great use of locations and strong photography by Hiro Narita (Star Trek VI).

Any film that manages to weave killer scorpions, the Day of the Dead, massive hidden alien bases, giant gaseous fireballs, spooky marionettes and Charlie Sheen into one story has my attention. Surprisingly, it also has my respect! THE ARRIVAL gets a B.

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