E. T. - THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL
Review by Michael Jacobson
Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, Peter
Director: Steven Spielberg
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 ES, DTS 5.1 ES
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Features: See Review
Length: 121 Minutes (Anniversary Edition)
Release Date: October 22, 2002
believe in you all my life…”
has made me feel so old as considering the fact that E. T. is celebrating
its 20th anniversary.
still remember when Steven Spielberg’s opus about a benign alien visitor
befriending a little boy first hit theatres, and how it seemed, at the time, the
event movie to end all event movies. Everyone
was talking about it. Parents were
ushering their kids into see it. “Phone home” became the catch phrase of the early 80s.
It doesn’t seem so long ago.
even remember the first re-release some years later, which came with Steven
Spielberg’s promise that his beloved film would NEVER see the light of day on
home video. What did Mary Poppins
say about pie crust promises? Easily
made, easily broken?
2002 saw our favorite little visitor from another world come back one more time.
Only this time, he was twenty years older.
The years were kinder to him than they were to me.
the anniversary release, Spielberg “Lucasized” his picture a little bit:
tweaking with the special effects here and there, adding a long discarded
sequence, and even making the movie a little more kid friendly than it already
was. Those handgun and rifle toting
law enforcers had their weapons digitally replaced with walkie-talkies.
I wonder if that movie cost the movie an NRA endorsement?
that it matters…if you show E. T., they will come…though from what
I’ve read, not quite in the numbers that Spielberg and crew had imagined.
True, countless people like me who delighted to the film as children were
now taking THEIR kids to experience it for the first time, but still…it
wasn’t what the industry expected for such a monumental re-release.
it be that some were a little put off by the notion of Spielberg tampering with
such a beloved classic? Possibly…at
any rate, it would explain his last minute decision to insure that all DVD
copies of E. T. would include the original theatrical release in addition
to the anniversary one, a feature originally only slated for the more expensive
think it was a wise decision. For
one thing, it gave me time to switch my pre-order from the big set to the
regular offering, which saved me some dinero!
Secondly, it will allow people to compare both versions with as much
scrutiny as they care to put forth and decide for themselves whether or not
George Lucas’ famed saying is true, that films are never completed, merely
feelings are mixed. I think there
was a certain charm in E. T.’s lack of mobility and his limited, though
communicative facial expressions. For
me, every digital enhancement stands out like a sore thumb, calling rude
attention to itself. The new
expanded scene showing E. T. in the tub just looks fake from top to bottom. On the other hand, the enhancements to the spaceship are
cool, and I was glad to see both Elliot’s (Thomas) cape blowing in the wind as
the two took their iconographic flight across the moon, and to see the guns go.
I never thought about it much before, but the scene before the boys’
bikes take flight that shows the close-ups of the cops cocking their rifles is a
bit disturbing. Were they going to
shoot the kids?
technical quibbles aside, what remains intact for E. T. is the appealing
story. When humans frighten away
his compatriots, E. T. is left stranded on earth, with no way to contact his
people and without a friend in the world.
meets up with Elliot, and they become friends.
E. T. reveals his wonders one at a time to both Elliot and the audience,
while Elliot teaches him to talk while learning from him that there really is no
place like home.
filmgoers cherish this movie…I love it, but never have quite elevated my
feelings for it to that extent. Certain
sequences rank amongst Spielberg’s best work, including the bicycle chase near
the end (which remains one of the most exciting action pieces I’ve seen), and
the grand finale, which hits all the right emotional notes.
Other aspects continue to bother me after two decades…for example, I
still don’t understand when, where or how E. T. and Elliot started sharing a
complete physical bond. I’ve also always thought that the school scene with the
frogs running free was gratuitous and silly, and seemingly striving for a
response that it doesn’t get.
still, as I’ve said… E. T. has certainly aged better than me in
twenty years. I suppose now I can
look forward to the 40th anniversary edition and feel even older than
I do now.
astonishing! Whichever version of
the film you choose, Universal has done their homework with this glorious pair
of anamorphic transfers. Though the
80s are usually problematic for DVD, you’d never guess it to look at this
picture, where Drew Barrymore’s youth is the only indication of it’s age.
Colors are bright, vivid, well contained and natural looking from top to
bottom, and images are sharp and crisply defined.
Light scenes and dark scenes play with equal effectiveness, and there’s
no noticeable grain or compression artifacts interfering.
The print itself is in remarkable condition.
Reference quality all the way!
5.1 sound (DD or DTS ES mixes) is equally astounding. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a John Williams score sound
as full, detailed and dynamic as this one.
Action sequences and effects keep both front and rear stages active, and
the .1 channel gives extra bass to the score and to the bigger sequences, such
as the spaceship’s arrival and departure and more. Best of all, you get both ES soundtracks on both versions of
the movie…thanks, Universal!
the continual absence of Steven Spielberg on a commentary track keeps this score
just a notch below perfect. The
first disc, which contains the anniversary edition, also includes Spielberg’s
brief introduction and arguably the coolest feature on the disc, which is John
Williams’ live performance of the score for the anniversary edition’s
premiere. You can listen to it in
its entirety as a separate track…it’s amazing, and is even peppered with the
sounds of the audience reacting to the movie!
The first disc also includes something for the kids…a look at the solar
system with E. T. as host.
Two contains a 20 minute featurette on the making of the film, a reunion special
that brings Spielberg together with all his principals again for their
recollections on the film (yep, feeling older still), trailers for this movie
and the DVD release of the Back to the Future Trilogy, talent files,
production notes, galleries of production design, marketing materials and
publicity photos, the 1982 Special Olympics commercial featuring E. T., and DVD
ROM extras including a “Total Access” feature, which supposedly gives you
weekly access to even more materials not included on the disc.