So I went out to see The Cable Guy but when I get there the place is totally sold out but I'm here so I might as well see something so hey, let's check out The Arrival.

Where to begin.

Sci-Fi with a message.

Sci-Fi with a message so large, it leaked next door into a showing of Eddie.

The Arrival is a story about aliens who are taking over the Earth. Sound like any other upcoming blockbuster to you?

In fact, this movie is basically an attempt to see if we're so starved for Independence Day that we'll waste our money on any old sci-fi that comes along.

And of course I did.

The overall problem is that the movie takes about an hour before we figure out that the aliens are here. Except that the trailers have all been shouting this at us for a month so we basically wasted 50 minutes of the movie.

Once the darned thing gets going, then it's off on a great ride. Until it stops again. But then it picks up some steam. But then it loses some more steam before picking up for the grand climactic moment, which for some reason doesn't actually involve the lead character.

Get my point?

Sure it has it's moments. It's got the obligatory "Litter the chick's room with lethal scorpions and watch the audience squirm as she repeatedly just misses them" scene. After about ten minutes of this, the guy next to me yelled out "Just kill her already!" I had to concur.

There is also the obvious "have guy turn around into scary face! But wait! It's a mask!" bit that's been done to death.

I'm not sure, but I'd bet the director is rather new to this whole movie thing. He seems to miss what we'd like to see and give us a lot of what we don't really need. Case in point, there's a neat stunt where guy has to jump off of the top of an elevator but then jump inside it before it sinks in the floor. Exciting? Sure, except the director just shows him jump off, then cuts to some assembly workers, and then he's already in the elevator. Hello? What's wrong, they ran out of money and couldn't get a stunt guy?

And just what did they spend the money on? The much-ballyhooed aliens look like the fake skeletons from Sinbad and The Seven Seas. Oh sure, they have far out floppy heads, but deep down, don't we all? If these things are what's arriving, then why worry? Stop-motion never killed anybody.

About the Title. Just what the Hell is arriving anyway? The Aliens? Nope. No arriving there. Chuck Sheen? A lot of coming but no actual arriving. (Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I made a naughty pun and I must do penance. Later.)

Again, and not for the last time, the major breakdown of an interesting idea (although a far from original one) begins with the script. Or lack thereof.

This baby is well thought out, but then some dialogue hack stepped in and wrote every single clicheť in the book. "I trust audio digital readouts, I trust logarithmic biorhythms, but for some reason I can't trust you."

When we first meet our hero and his babe, we are given, in two minutes of dialogue, their entire past history. Man, last time I heard someone talk that concise they were ordering pizza.

See. The movie can be interesting, if you're willing to spend some time appreciating the intrigue which isn't there. Thing is, anyone that into this movie, has probably already read this story a hundred times, and a hundred times better.

The acting? Poor Charlie Sheen. He's picked so many bad scripts his father should just ground him. "That's it. No more hookers for you until you gross $100 million domestic."

The other actors? Well, they kinda just melted into the background and hoped none of their friends were seeing this.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't a total flop. Just mostly. I gasped. I got excited. Once. Maybe twice. The writer pulled out some nice story twists at the end that I must give credit for. And it made itself look even better by having some truly god awful previews in front of it. Phat Beach?

But as an attempted Summer Blockbuster, it doesn't even have the darned tornadoes to keep me interested.

But I'm still giving it a higher rating than Twister, because I expected far less.

2 Babylons. I was ready to give it more when they teased a sex scene, but then I remembered that the lead chick is Lindsay Cruise, and I had to knock it hard for even threatening such a thing.

Ah well. Maybe Sunday I can get into The Cable Guy.

Unless someone manages to persuade me otherwise. Anyone heard if they're releasing "Quest for Fire 2: Quest for Fire Extinguisher?"

Just a thought.

The Self-Made Critic

Editor's note. I want to thank you all for joining my little clan. I was going to give out little candies for my club members, but they got sticky in my bag so I gave them to a Street Mime.

The clan is a good size. But bigger is always better. So if you haven't passed this on to any of your friends, poo on you. I have every intention of becoming bigger than Siskel and Ebert combined.

Course I'll have to eat about 50 jars of pig knuckles a day to do it.

Did I mention my Phantom ring? It's cool, and it marks me as someone to be dealt with.