BLU-RAY REVIEW: E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Anniversary Edition
The Classic Family-Friendly Alien Film Hits Hi-Def Home Video...
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If you - like me - grew up in the 1980s, the first sci-fi movie you may have seen was E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Written by Melissa Mathison (who went on to write 1995's The Indian in the Cupboard) and directed by Steven Spielberg (who went on to direct a lot of awesomeness), E.T. is considered one of the most magical motion pictures of all time. The simple story of an abandon alien visitor found and befriended by a 10-year-old boy who, when the two form an inseparable bond, change the way we all understand friendship, love and life makes for an experience unlike any other captured on film before or sense.
I probably don't have to tell you what an amazing masterpiece of film E.T. is; however, I've recently discovered there's actually an entire generation of moviegoer who's either missed this wonder of cinema, chosen to ignore its existence, or - heaven forbid - had parents unwilling to share this amazing film with their children. While E.T. may be perceived as "old" by some of today's moviegoers, it's no less the same timeless film it was three decades ago when it first hit theaters and it'll no doubt remain one of the best films for decades to come.
From the perspective of a 9-year-old growing up, E.T. was a marvel. When I first saw E.T., I wanted to be Elliott...or maybe even Elliott's older brother Michael. Optimistic, wide-eyed and hopelessly naive, I was enthralled - like so many other kids watching the movie. I went out and bought bags of Reese's Pieces to prepare for the alien's coming. Of course, it took my parents convincing me aliens weren't real and that E.T. wouldn't show up in the forest behind my own childhood home before I quit putting Reese's Piece out, but that is the kind of effect this film had on me. And I know I wasn't alone...
Now, 30 years later, I hope others like me with children of their own will watch this film with their own children and introduce them to this amazing film that's now, thanks to Universal, is finally available in gorgeous 1080p blu-ray hi-def with amazing 7.1 audio. The film's transfer to hi-def was overseen and approved by Spielberg himself, making it the best available. Remastered from the original 35mm film, this transfer features everything one will want in a video: gorgeous, warm colors and detailed textures are inviting and easy to watch. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track delivers plenty of quality audio. Considering the soundtrack is 3 decades old, there are times it's hard to tell. Dialogue is clear from the front and sound effects fill the various speakers across the sound stage. And of course John Williams' score now delivers an even more impressive audio experience as many fans will immediately remember upon hearing the opening song.
As for bonus materials, this new release now includes a variety of special features, including a 13-minute "Steven Spielberg & E.T." chat with the film's creator, who reminisces about the film, the story and the production as a whole. A nice, though short, jaunt back in time. The longer and more in-depth near hour-long "The E.T. Journals" are made up of original, behind-the-scenes footage from the production of the film 30 years ago. These include on-set interviews with cast and crew which are well worth watching for fans of the film. Other special features include the 38-minute "A Look Back," which is a production documentary originally seen on the 2002 DVD release; the 50-minute "The Evolution and Creation of E.T.," which is also from the 2002 DVD release and features more interviews and behind-the-scene footage; the 18-minute "The E.T. Reunion," featuring director Steven Spielberg, producer Kathleen Kennedy and actors Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace and Peter Coyote talking about the film's production, shooting, and creation; and the 18-minute "The 20th Anniversary Premiere," which showcases highlights from the 20th Anniversary premiere featuring composer John Williams and a full symphony performing the film's score during the anniversary showing of the film. Other bonus features include a 10-minute "The Music of E.T." featuring a chat with Williams, a 1-minute Special Olympics TV spot, the film's 2 minute trailer, a number of deleted scenes, and the "Designs, Photographs and Marketing" image galleries.
E.T. will forever be a classic. Unlike many childhood films which are memorable for a time and then unfortunately (or sometimes thankfully) fade from memory, E.T. continues to become better with age. E.T., like few other films, has stayed with me...and no doubt many other film fans from all over the world who grew up watching this brilliant story of the bond between a boy and an alien. Thankfully, this new blu-ray anniversary release only solidifies E.T. as a film for the ages. Hopefully, with the right amount of prompting by movie goers, E.T. will continue to live on for future generations to enjoy.
- Jess C. Horsley