By William Stevenson
Updated October 25, 1996 at 04:00 AM EDT

Every trend produces a backwash, and The Arrival trails limply in the wake of the recent sci-fi revival. But its aliens-among-us plot packs all the surprise of an Oreo: Radio astronomer Sheen stumbles across a transmission from a distant star and is fired for his efforts by a slick NASA administrator (Silver) who later turns out to be, ahem, not what he seems. Except that the aliens, whom Sheen tracks down to their base in Mexico, have legs that face backwards, nothing sets this film apart from dozens of similar thrillers; even the aliens’ justification for trying to heat up the Earth to their liking (humans don’t deserve their planet because they treat her so poorly) is trite. At least the movie doesn’t suffer from the transfer to the small screen, because there was nothing grand about its conception in the first place. C-