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E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial(1982)
An extra-terrestrial is accidentally left behind on Earth and is befriended by a young boy and his brother and sister. As Elliot attempts to help his extra-terrestrial companion contact his home planet so that he might be rescued, the children must elude scientists and government agents determined to apprehend the alien for their own purposes...which results in an adventure greater than any of them could have imagined.
For more about E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial and the E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray release, see E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on September 18, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace, Robert MacNaughton, K.C. Martel
Director: Steven Spielberg
» See full cast & crew
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray Review
"You could be happy here. I could take care of you. We could grow up together..."
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, September 18, 2012
There are classic films that leave a lasting mark and some that leave an enduring legacy. Then there are those special few that leave a mark, a legacy and, somehow, something even greater. Something more palpable and timeless. Something almost indescribable. Something that washes over its faithful fans; a warm, refreshing wave of nostalgia so pure and tangible that it transforms a beloved movie into an experience akin to coming home. For children of the '80s and early '90s, Steven Spielberg's E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial is more than a mere movie. Reducing its charm to the word "mark" or its appeal to the word "legacy" seems feeble and feels impersonal. And for a film whose heart still beats strong some thirty years after its debut, for a film Spielberg still considers his most personal, for a film audiences of all ages still call one of their personal favorites, feeble and impersonal just won't do. I won't pretend 21st century kids will develop the same deep appreciation and affection for E.T. as children of my generation, nor do I expect them to so easily look past its less than seamless special effects. But E.T. remains as funny, thrilling, touching and powerful today as it was in 1982, and it would be tough for anyone -- young or old, boy or girl, newcomer or longtime fan -- to come away without having laughed, gasped, cried or cheered, for the first time or the hundredth.
On the surface, E.T. tells the rather simple tale of a ten-year-old boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas) who befriends a stranded alien. But it's so much more. Elliott, the middle child of three, is struggling to deal with everything from bullies at school to feelings of loneliness and isolation to his parents' recent divorce. Spielberg didn't just set out to make a movie about a boy and his adventures with a lovable extraterrestrial; he set out (and succeeded) to make a movie about a family, broken and in distress, that's strengthened and made whole again through a series of trying but extraordinary events. E.T., as Elliott dubs him, is really little more than an otherworldly catalyst; a wonderful character in his own right, mind you, but a neatly packaged catalyst all the same. He's sweet. He's lost. He wants to get home. He has a taste for junk food. That's the long and short of it. The richness of the narrative comes by way of Elliott's family -- his mother Mary (Dee Wallace), his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and his younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) -- and their reactions and responses to E.T., the government agents closing in on the poor creature's location (most notable among them Peter Coyote), and E.T.'s efforts to contact his ship.
This is Spielberg at his freest, perhaps even at his most content. The sentiment that sometimes seems so alien in the director's later films is perfectly suited to the wonder, sadness and sincerity that fills every frame of E.T. Tapping into his own childhood and relying on an exceptionally talented young cast, he subtly forges two realities and merges them into one. The first as perceived by a child; a fading dream in which adults are seen from the waist down, strange creatures are a bastion from rejection, and flying bikes, sprouting flowers, glowing fingers and elaborate machines built from household objects are a source of unquestionable magic. The second as seen through the eyes of a wounded boy; an all-too-clear memory of a frazzled mother, mean-spirited peers, and grownups anxious to study and dissect something a child would befriend and treasure. Elliott's flights of fancy lift him up and out of a difficult world manned by difficult adults consumed by their own difficult situations. His new friend heals the very things his parents' divorce infected; his confidence, his security, his sense that, at the end of the day, everything would be okay. And his desperation to help E.T. escape Earth, however much saying goodbye might hurt, gives a tattered little boy the opportunity to let someone go on mutual terms; a right he was robbed of when his father left. Through it all, Spielberg fuses each theme, character and performance into something disarming and, even in its innocence, fearless and a bit unflinching.
E.T., of course, wasn't Spielberg's first foray into extraterrestrial territory, and it wouldn't be his last. He tackled similar ideas five years earlier in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (albeit from the perspective of adults), twenty-three years later in War of the Worlds (with... let's just say less chummy alien visitors), and three years after that with The Film of Which I Will Not Speak (apologies). But while Close Encounters no doubt remains the true cinephile's choice, it's E.T. that perhaps best captures the fascination and surge of imagination a child -- or really anyone who has yet to devolve into a pessimist or, worse, a cynic -- feels when pondering our place and exclusivity in the universe. Yes, it's a tearjerker. Yes, it's the sort of '80s classic that plucks heartstrings masterfully but mercilessly, particularly when it comes to the potentially life-threatening bond that develops between Elliott and E.T. And yes, in an era in which alien invasion actioners litter the box office, it would be easy to dismiss a quote-unquote cute kid's fantasy like E.T. as trivial or unrealistic, with its expressive alien botanists, two-dimensional government lackeys, and ragtag band of bike-pedaling kids. But if you're incapable of giving in to escapism, if you're incapable of losing yourself in a heartfelt adventure, then perhaps it's time to question what it is that made you fall in love with movies in the first place. I promise you it wasn't a film like Enter the Void or Antichrist, much as some childhood revisionists would like to believe.
Is E.T. a flawless classic? Let's not lose ourselves in hyperbole. Thirty years later, the film's effects don't hold up so well, much as its puppetry continues to impress. Spielberg has a few late-game lapses in judgment, most of which revolve around Coyote's man with no name, Keys -- who goes from faceless villain to sympathetic everyman to, wait, is he eyeballing Elliott's mom?! -- and the cartoonish government agents and scientists that swarm Elliott's home. If E.T. is a story as seen through the eyes of a child, it all makes sense. But Spielberg simultaneously humanizes and dehumanizes the film's adults just as the film hits its dramatic stride, after spending an hour shooting Keys and his men in silhouette and emphasizing their detached, relentless nature. Beyond that, there isn't much to complain about. Some warnings are in order, I suppose. Young kids weened on light animated fare may not be prepared for the darker places Spielberg is willing to go (you may not even remember how dark E.T. can get), some of its visuals will be tough for little ones to handle, and the breaking of Elliott and E.T.'s bond is as devastating as it ever was (if you have kids who are prone to bolting from the room, prepare yourself). All that said, none of that should prevent anyone from inviting E.T. into their homes. If you haven't seen the film in years, take this chance to reconnect with an old favorite. If you've never seen it before, take this chance to introduce yourself and your family to what will surely be one of your new household favorites.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray, Video Quality
E.T. dazzles with a lovely, beautifully restored and, yes, filmic 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer supervised and approved by Spielberg himself; one that I can't imagine will generate many, if any, serious complaints. For those who've long railed against Universal's treatment of its catalog titles, take this moment to breathe a hard-fought sigh of relief. E.T. doesn't exhibit any signs of problematic filtering, unnecessary tweaks, noise reduction or, really, any other technique that might undermine its textures' integrity, reduce its grain to a soupy mess, or subvert Spielberg's intentions or Allen Daviau's photography in any way. Simply put, E.T. has never looked better, never been more faithful to its original presentation, or exhibited more life and vitality than it does here. Colors are warm and pleasant, with wonderfully saturated skintones, bright primaries and satisfying contrast. (Black levels are often a touch muted, but very little appears to be out of sorts.) Detail is excellent as well, even if soft shots are fairly common and special effects sequences come with a slew of inherent anomalies (the most distracting of which involves general, image-wide disruptions most noticeable in the night sky). The key word there, though is "inherent," as none of it appears to trace back to anything other than the source. Otherwise, edges are clean and refined (with only the slightest hint of intermittent ringing to be found), fine textures are nicely resolved, a variety of shots are far more revealing than I anticipated, delineation is commendable, and there isn't any significant artifacting, banding or aliasing to report. Perfect? Not quite. As close to perfect as could feasibly be achieved? I suspect so. Fans will be most ecstatic, Universal skeptics will be most surprised, and everyone in between will be most impressed.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray, Audio Quality
E.T. phones home with quite an unexpected surprise: a full and boisterous DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track that propels the film into the future without distancing its original sound design too far from the past. The rear speakers aren't aggressive per se but they are most engaging, immersing the listener in whatever dense underbrush, foggy forests, cramped closets, busy classrooms or mobile med-labs await. Directionality is reserved but precise (particularly in early scenes, when E.T. is avoiding human contact), pans are smooth and there isn't much in the way of air hiss or a noise floor in any of the scenes. It's still a thirty-year-old film with thirty-year-old sound design (difficult as it is to tell at times), but just as much attention and care has been invested in the eight-channel remix as the 1080p video presentation. John Williams' score is the greatest beneficiary to the lossless 7.1 upgrade, of course, and his sweeping themes and soaring orchestral melodies flow freely from every channel, creating a more robust and evocative experience than many will be prepared for. Low-end output is strong as well, lending weight and presence to spacecraft and shady government agents as needed, and dynamics don't disappoint. Dialogue and alien chatter, meanwhile, is clear, intelligible and carefully centered, and only a handful of lines are hollow, muffled or tinny. So could E.T. sound any better? Honestly, I don't see how.
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
E.T. takes me back; to childhood, to a simpler time, to a purer state of movie-going ease... wherever, whenever or whatever it may be, Spielberg's adventure classic takes me back. I still laughed, still gasped, still grinned, still wept like a child. I still felt like burying my head as E.T.'s life slipped away, and I still felt like exploding out of my seat when his chest began to glow and Elliott's flower began to grow. After all these years -- thirty to be exact -- it's a film that still has a hold on me. And now it has it's hold on my son as well. Much to their credit, Universal didn't rush this one to market. Between its terrific restoration and video transfer, its excellent DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track, and its mix of worthwhile special features old and new, E.T. is one of the year's must-have Blu-ray catalog releases.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: Other Editions
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To celebrate the Blu-ray release and the 30th anniversary of Steven Spielberg's beloved family film E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, six Madame Tussauds locations including Hollywood, London, Berlin Amsterdam Sydney and Tokyo are set to bring to life one of films' ...
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For the week of October 9th, Twentieth Century Fox is offering up a close encounters of the third kind with the sci-fi blockbuster Prometheus, director Ridley Scott's not-a-prequel-except-really-a-prequel to Alien prequel. As its placement in that iconic horror ...
• E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial Blu-ray (Updated) - July 21, 2012
As part of its 100th Anniversary this year, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will offer special Blu-rays of selected catalog titles, and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial will arrive in the fall wave. Director Steven Spielberg's classic science-fiction fable focuses ...
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