Making the Grades
The Arrival released in theatres just weeks before Independence Day, resulting in a poor box office next to ID4's fireworks, even though The Arrival is every bit as good as Independence Day, and in some ways is better.
Employed to seek out intelligent life on other planets, Zane Zaminski (Charlie Sheen) gets his first big break in the form of a radio signal. The next day he's fired, and all evidence of the contact is destroyed. Not one to give up easily, Zaminski begins his own SETI program with a few things lying around the house and neighborhood. After spinning a few dials, Zaminski hears another transmission, but this time he fears the source may be closer to home.
Appropriately rated PG-13 in the U.S., The Arrival is no E.T., so send the youngest ones to bed before you roll the movie. Concerned parents may want to preview it before showing it to teens -- the language is rough in some parts, and the plot is quite suspenseful. The good news is that, aside from the language, this movie offers an edge-of-your-seat ride with little sex, blood, or gore. You can thank the aliens for the lack of violence. For some reason they forgot to pack their weapons before they left home. The earthmen reciprocate, and turn to fire extinguishers for heavy artillery (the aliens hate to get cold).
In case you confuse my enjoyment of this movie with the idea that it contains positive messages for children, let me assure you that there is little here to teach anything worthwhile. The greenhouse effect is part of the plot, but otherwise, the main message may be fear as you can't seem to trust anyone. Zaminski also has a non-marital relationship with his girlfriend, but does hold loyal to her when given the chance to do otherwise. However, if your teenagers are begging to see a good action sci-fi, The Arrival offers a more intelligent plot and less foul language and violence than Independence Day.