It almost seemed wildly appropriate to soak in the madness of a Charlie Sheen film with his publicity tour in full swing during the first half of 2011. The irony of The Arrival  landing in my lap with Sheen as the primary couldn't be more perfectly timed. But, would I be "winning" with his film? I know, "winning" is quickly becoming an overused catchphrase isn't it? Once upon a time, before the crazy set in, Sheen was a steady customer in Hollywood. He was less the deranged personality natural we see today and more the young stud version of his father Martin Sheen attempting to navigate his way through all of the stardust. What is it about Hollywood that's seemingly in the water magnifying the personality extremes of these entitled actors?
Oliver Stone's Platoon  was the first big film I remember enjoying in my youth. It was perhaps the biggest, coolest, most startling war picture I could recall to that point. Of course the equally astonishing Full Metal Jacket , by Stanley Kubrick, soon followed, but Platoon was probably the biggest genre event I remember outside of seeing bits of his father's Apocalypse Now  by Francis Ford Coppolla. Though, apparently, young Sheen was an extra for that film.
Now by no means am I a fan of the work of Charlie Sheen. But, there seemed to be some potential there inside of Platoon. Don't get me wrong, he wasn't Willem DaFoe or Tom Berenger, but there was some flashes of inspiration there a la Tom Cruise in Stone's Born On The Fourth Of July . Sheen might become something. John Sayles' Eight Men Out  was good, but otherwise he's been a fairly big non-event. In fact, I would not sign up and pay money for the Charlie Sheen Torpedo tour. Seriously, who is going to this show? Somehow along the way I sort of lost track of Charlie's work never finding myself all that drawn to him as an actor. I'm sure he's delivered some serviceable work. He's certainly a likable enough character. For me, he'll always be remembered for his work in Platoon as Private Chris Taylor, oddly enough. I've never actually been a Two And A Half Men kind of guy and he was fairly good on Spin City following the departure of Michael J. Fox. Those were big shoes to fill, but Charlie knows spin. He's amusing, but let's face it, it's not science fiction. Despite the insanity of his TV success, Sheen has clearly bought into the elixir of his own success. His belief 9-11 was an inside job by the federal government and other assorted rants have cropped up along his journey into weird.
Today, Sheen is fully uncorked, unleashed, "one gear, one speed, go!" and "bangin' 7 gram rocks." He's his own drug called "Charlie Sheen" according to Sheen. Tiger blood Sheen is driving in radical coke mode and that's how he's rolling. To be honest, the Charlie Sheen world tour is as weird and wild and as sad as those media displays and soundbites would no doubt have you believe. He is completely unrestrained and out of the box. His fate seems somehow sealed, but the man is a character and in the land of plenty there's always room for redemption, just look at Mickey Rourke and Robert Downey Jr.. It can happen. It will be interesting to see how it all ends, simply because you just can't turn away from that massive train wreck. The media gives us a piece of the man wherever he goes. I can't imagine it will end well, but he is a fascinating, entertaining kind of nut. But, this really isn't about the war genre or all about Charlie Sheen.
Oddly enough, Director David Twohy teamed with Charlie Sheen for a little known science fiction film called The Arrival  years before Sheen went on the bender. I wish I could call it a little known gem. Twohy has come up with interesting, if not always perfectly executed material in films like A Perfect Getaway  and Pitch Black , in my opinion his two best attempts to date. Twohy has made a name for himself as a scriptwriter too. He even had a hand in the disappointing Impostor  as well as Kevin Costner's Waterworld , Ridley Scott's G.I. Jane  and Andrew Davis' The Fugitive . The big picture on Twohy does begin coming together as something of an uneven run. His career has not been a shining example of excellence and I sincerely enjoyed some of those aforementioned scripts. But Twohy has also written and directed his fair share of films and A Perfect Getaway does give me hope.
Somehow the pairing of Sheen and Twohy screamed for a viewing. I happened upon it in a rare non-on-line appearance at Best Buy. I picked it up. The time seemed oh so right to see what this strange offering might bring. I wish I could have my two hours back. This is my warning to you to run far and wide. It's too late for me. I'm a goner. I've lost two precious hours of my life never to be returned, but this is my chance to give something back to humanity even if it's my last selfless act. Okay, dramatic. Well, there's no lack of that here, but it's of the cheese spread variety.
The Arrival was adorned with a 25 million dollar budget and made roughly 14 million back. I'd say dead on arrival is a little more like it.
Sheen plays the part of a technician, Zane Zaminsky [as in zzzzzz], who stumbles upon the makings of an impending alien invasion in progress. Yes, these things have already arrived. Vintage 1996 alien special effects get disguised as humans in what comes off like a cheesy sci-fi, comic, thriller. But this isn't as good as those B movie Creature Double Features we loved. It simply straddles the line of dramatic, sometimes comic and Twohy seems to suck the excitement and tension out of every scene with Sheen offering little to the material. In many ways, this is a far less effective riff on John Carpenter's superior They Live  minus the classic Corey Hart sunglasses concept. Honestly, many adjectives come to mind for this film: hokey, poorly-executed, poorly-acted, ill-conceived, insignificant, unoriginal, and boring. A few nouns come to mind too, shite and abject failure, a dismal one. I'm sorry to have to report that I missed this one along the way, but somehow it still found me. I guess they really are here to stay. I'm not sure what I was hoping for, but this failed to satisfy this Fanatic on almost every level including its denouement complete with more achingly bad dialogue.
I wish I had better news. I thought a film like The Arrival, with its concentration on character over special effects, might have been more pleasantly substantive than some of today's fast food science fiction. It certainly could have been, but it swings and misses badly. What I've come to realize is Director David Twohy is neither a terrific director [at this point] or writer, of which chores he handles both in the case of The Arrival. He also wrote and directed A Perfect Getaway. His skills behind the camera have much improved since the making of this Sheen disaster, but even A Perfect Getaway has its writing problems. He never quite delivers the proper balance and some of his strongest works have benefited from the assist of co-writers. I can get by the cheesy special effects, but bad writing and uninspired direction and casting make The Arrival wholly unwelcomed.
Close Encounters Of The Unwanted Kind. Close Encounters Of The Worst Kind. In fact, GET Close Encounters Of The Third Kind . See it again all over with new eyes. Heck, The Fourth Kind with Milla Jovovich  would probably be better, but that's a guess.
Unfortunately, The Arrival is the kind of thing that has defined Twohy and Sheen's often sub par careers [with exceptions]. This is an unexceptional movie and one that really never should have happened. Granted, this is my take on it and yet, oddly, there is enough here to give others a counter argument. I understand this is less a proper film review than a stream of consciousness-styled attempt at humor, but I simply cannot relive this film in detail- that might be considered masochistic. The Bill Of Rights strictly forbades Cruel And Unusual Punishment and as an American I must respect the will of the framers.
Well, there's a sequel out there called The Second Arrival. Is this the second wave? Did the others leave? Stop! I don't want to know. You don't want to know. Don't look for coverage of it on this site. Good grief. Stabbing my eyes with a fork might be preferred.
Friends. My apologies for being so quiet of late, but getting to the keyboard has been difficult to fit into a tight schedule. Still, I love writing and I love taking time out to write and exchange ideas with everyone who visits. Thank you for your continued support for all things sci-fi here at Musings.