Review: E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) / Cert: U / Director: Steven Spielberg / Screenplay: Melissa Mathison / Starring: Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore / Release Date: October 22nd
With E.T. celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and Universal celebrating its centenary, it is the perfect time for a beloved classic to be released for the first time on Blu-ray. Perhaps one of the most treasured movies in sci-fi history, and one of the most successful if inflation is taken into consideration, the timeless film is ready to enthral and entrance a whole new generation.
A quick rehash of the plot: a meek little boy, Elliott (Thomas) befriends a benevolent alien who has been accidentally stranded on Earth. With the help of his older brother and little sister, Elliott discovers that E.T. merely wants to return home. The alien fashions a satellite from some household items and a Speak-and-Spell and awaits rescue. However, it becomes clear that unless he can get home soon, the alien will die. With the authorities aware of E.T.’s presence and determined to capture him, it becomes a race against time to get E.T. home before it’s too late.
Three decades after its original release, E.T. has lost none of its charm. Whereas most contemporary films that have a runtime bordering on two hours seem to drag, this flies by. Perhaps that is because it was made in a more innocent time, when directors like Spielberg knew how to make entertaining cinema rather than cynical fodder for the corporations who worry about advertising and tie-ins. It has everything; an alien, a naive childhood friendship, a shady government agency and a happy ending bordering on pure schmaltz. Interestingly, as you watch, it’s amazing to see how many subtle horror tropes are used for such a harmless movie – it could have so easily been taken in a different direction. Remember that this was made in a time when blockbusters were still a relatively new fad and you can really appreciate what Spielberg crafted here.
The child leads are endearing, rather than grating (yes, Dakota Fanning in Spielberg’s War of the Worlds – we’re looking at you) and even the roles populated by the adults (Wallace, Coyote) are nicely played without appearing to be overbearing or an afterthought to the plot. For the purists, you’ll be pleased to know that ‘gun-gate’ has been rectified back to the original print.
Including a brand new interview with the director and The E.T. Journals – brand new, behind the scenes footage from the set – this is the perfect time to introduce the film to the next generation.
Extras – The E.T. Journals / Steven Spielberg & E.T. / Deleted Scenes / A Look Back / The E.T. Reunion / The Evolution & Creation of E.T. / The Music of E.T.: A Discussion with John Williams / The 20th Anniversary Premiere / Original Theatrical Trailer