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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 17.76%
Average: 14.95%
Pretty Bad: 4.67%
Total Crap: 11.21%

2 reviews, 95 user ratings

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E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
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by Scott Weinberg

"A close-up look at Spielberg's Classic in its new DVD form."
5 stars

First, the easy part: E.T., the immortal classic and worldly beloved family flick, is finally available on DVD. This is, of course, a cause for rejoice, as the movie is as wonderfully entertaining as its ever been. I’m one of those 30-year-old movie animals who saw this movie probably five times during it original theatrical run, and time has not sullied the film one iota in my eyes. E.T. should be considered annual family viewing (much like The Wizard of Oz), and I suspect it’s a movie that will be adored 150 years from now.

OK, now that I got that out of the way, I have a whole slew of minor complaints (minor in that the numerous things irritating me in no way damage the experience of the film). I’m not about to broach that whole ‘special edition’ debate that everyone loves to argue about. Masters Spielberg and Lucas have the right and the power (and the money) to ‘facelift’ their own films as much as they see fit. I (and millions more) don’t have to like it, but that’s just life in the big city. (The big city being Hollywood, where old product sells just as well as new product... sometimes better!)

But here’s what bugs me: the changes stink. Sure, they’re totally unnecessary to begin with, but they also just stink. The entire presence of the titular alien shifts in the new version; in an effort to make the creature more lifelike, the director has also (ironically enough) made him more cartoonish. Like many old-time fans, I know this movie right down to E.T.’s facial expressions... all of which are completely jumbled in the enhanced version. I realize that “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is one hoary old cliché, but it’s never been truer than in this case. Heck, the original version made 34 billion dollars and is adored from Spain to Swahili; why not leave well enough alone? Surely making a public outcry about how awful guns (and the word “terrorist”) are draws more uncomfortable attention than just leaving a harmless family flick as is!

The new scenes are more jarring than anything, as anyone familiar with the film would recognize these sequences as if they were lit in bright red neon. Spielberg can attest all he wants about “things I DID want in the film”; all I see are a few bells and whistles jammed in so the theatrical re-release (and enhanced DVD) will earn a few extra bucks. Call me cynical if you like, but just four paragraphs ago I was swooning like a little girl over how much I truly adore this movie.

(It’s at this point that I’m feeling a bit guilty for not actually “reviewing” the movie, but c’mon; who needs me preaching about a movie you’ve seen eleven times? It’s E.T.! You know this is one of those truly special movies, and if you don’t then no amount of soppy and nostalgic praise from me will convince you otherwise.)

So the whole CGI rhinoplasty/re-release/money-grub aside, we’re still talking about a phenomenal piece of pop movie art. (And most importantly of all things, the ORIGINAL unaltered, unblemished, and gloriously widescreen 1982 version is included in this 2-disc set, so all complaints are tempered with a sense of overall satisfaction.) BUT... what’s with this wacky DVD fiasco?

The original press release from Universal promised two separate editions: a 2-disc set with the enhanced version and a supplemental disc (approx. $20.00), and a 3-disc Ultimate Gift Set. The fancy set was meant to offer a swanky case, some additional supplements, AND the 1982 version. In other words, the original version was meant to be released only as part of a $60.00+ gift set. Then late word got out that both versions were in both packages. Combine this discrepancy with Universal’s announcement that no screener copies would be made available to the online press, and you’re looking at some rather odd goings-on.

Buzz states that Spielberg intervened at zero hour and asked that both versions be included on both sets, and that Universal’s sudden embargo was borne out of concern for their Gift Set’s profitability. (Again, this is just conjecture on my part, but there is a certain logic to my paranoia.) Several people I know initially planned to purchase the ‘expensive set’ and were thrilled to learn that they wouldn’t have to after all.

So now comes the release, and there’s a whole separate parcel of frustration. Now, this may sound like the silliest complaint ever made about a DVD release, but here goes:

The spine doesn’t have the title on it.

I know; I’m a freak, right? But I have about 150 DVDs, all of which have the titles printed on the skinny side of the DVD case. As pedantic as this sounds…that’s how you know what movie you’re pulling off the shelf! Sure, E.T. has a lot of nighttime scenes, but am I supposed to recognize the DVD case just because it’s blue? I digress; it’s a silly complaint about a silly packaging screw-up.

As far as the extras go... I was unenthused. Sure, you could just blame me for not dropping cash on the bells and whistles edition, but heck - I just want the movie. Period. Since the goodies are offered, I’ll comment:

Disc 1 contains a rather sweet feature: an all-new soundtrack, recorded at a live concert/re-release screening. Imagine watching the movie with an orchestra in your living room, and you get the idea. (Sadly, you must sit through the new & improved edition of the film in order to enjoy this track, but I’d say it’s probably worth it. Better yet, just play this audio track just for the music!)

There’s a 20-minute featurette that brings us behind the scenes of the March 2002 event, focusing on composer John Williams’ meticulous timing and his orcherstra’s astounding musical skills that were needed to pull the experiment off. This is a mildly interesting addition, though it’s not something you’ll ever visit twice. Rounding out the first disc is a wholly ridiculous feature called “Space Exploration”, which is the “E.T. voice” offering quick lessons on each planet of the solar system. Of interest solely to aspiring astronomers or those smoking a joint.

Disc 2 starts out with a 25-minute behind-the-scenes featurette... most of which centers inevitably on the digital facelifts and new scenes. (I’m not one to quote Shakespeare, but after hearing such effusive arguments as to why the enhancements were so necessary, I got the idea that the filmmakers were ‘protesting too much’.) All the principals drop by to heap truckloads of gushy love-talk all over each other (I’m not saying the sentiments aren’t sincere; I’m saying they’re bland and redundant) in between plugs for the re-release (why try to sell me an item I just purchased three hours ago?), but fans of the movie will certainly enjoy the few snippets of on-set footage, FX tests, and general monkeying around. Not an awful featurette, but it’s basically one part meat and three parts Jell-O. (Oh yeah: there’s a considerably longer version of this feature on the three-disc set, so start saving your pennies.)

A twenty-minute reunion piece is pretty solid, in that it offers all the central players (Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Dee Wallace, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton, producer Kathleen Kennedy, and Spielberg himself) in a laid-back and chatty style. Though a good segment of this feature is a rehash from the prior supplement, there are a handful of warm and wistful nuggets passed around. (Coyote and Thomas offer some particularly insightful comments about the movie.) This is mostly a back-pat-a-thon, but they’ve kind of earned it on this flick.

The “Designs, Photographs, and Marketing” gallery offers all sorts of production stills, artwork, character concepts, FX designs, and marketing hoo-hah. Worthy of a perusal, nothing more. You’ll also find 2 DVD trailers, which leads me to my final little whine: the original theatrical trailer for E.T. is not included. (Not surprisingly, that 1982 trailer is (in a weak move) included in the pricier Gift Set.) I’m not at all interested in trailers for a 2002 E.T. re-release or for the DVD set of Back to the Future... while the original trailer for a movie as beloved as E.T. is actually something historical. (I know, I know: I get what I deserve for not dropping the sixty bucks, right?)

Lastly are some typical promotional additions: cast/crew bios (hey, this Spielberg guy could have a real career!), production notes, and a few ‘special announcements’ about how The Special Olympics, adoption, and theme parks are all Universally intertwined.

Forgive my rambling and non-traditional review, but this release has got me all sorts of confused. My feeling about the allegedly enhanced version can best be summed up by something that Henry Thomas (now a grown-up) says during an interview about how E.T.’s eyes MADE the character real. The enhanced E.T. doesn’t have those eyes. He now has big goofy Scooby-Doo eyes; the character is different, the movie suffers. But, like I said way back at the beginning: I now own yet another classic movie I loved as a kid, so none of the extra B.S. (pointless gimmicks, fluffy supplements, questionable marketing ploys, etc.) really matters.

I’d never wish failure on a guy like Steven Spielberg, but I’m partially thrilled that the big 20th Anniversary re-release didn’t go over like gangbusters. Maybe he’ll think twice about ‘enhancing’ whatever infinitesimal flaws he may find in Raiders of the Lost Ark. (You just know he’s considered it.)

Spielberg's often stated that the new edition of E.T. was made for a ‘new generation’; parents, do your kids a favor: stick with the real version and I bet they’ll appreciate the difference one day.

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originally posted: 04/30/04 19:04:57
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User Comments

9/06/17 Ken Well done, Spielberg! 5 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell a classic nuff said 5 stars
6/06/12 keith miron ET was watching Tom and Jerry on tv :) 4 stars
6/08/10 Flathead King When you watch this movie as an adult, most of its magic seems to have disappeared. 3 stars
1/31/10 Reality of Films Very good movie. If you, hate it, you need to go see a therapist NOW. 5 stars
11/07/09 James Wonderful Spielberg movie. Fun and touching. Amazing soundtrack by John Williams. 5 stars
3/08/09 SandySue An oldie but goody - good for whole family! 4 stars
1/13/09 JustinMorgan Spielburg ruined his best movie. Let's make the Mona Lisa better while we're at it! 1 stars
11/14/07 Kyle L This movie still packs the emotional punch it did in '82, no one has ever topped it! 5 stars
10/09/07 BasketCase Great movie. You're lieing if you think it "sucks". You're in denial! 5 stars
10/03/07 wall love it so much 5 stars
9/14/07 dude true classic 5 stars
6/16/07 al smith timeless.sad,uplifting makes you feel like a child 5 stars
6/15/07 Vincent Ebriega In any version, you'll still get the same great movie. Be it any version, buy it. 5/5. 5 stars
5/26/07 ebert best movie ever made 5 stars
5/24/07 bichard simpson it sucked huge dick 1 stars
4/07/07 movieman best movie ever made 5 stars
3/07/07 man Best movie ever 5 stars
2/04/07 douglas This is not a good kids movie, with words like Douche bag and penis breath and shit" 1 stars
1/19/07 movieman best movie ever 5 stars
12/29/06 David Pollastrini brilliant, great fx 5 stars
11/28/06 DJ classic 5 stars
9/26/06 Erin Amidon Much better than 2006 remake with Paul Giamatti & Bryce Dallas Howard 3 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist Sappy& kid-friendly, but one of the best childhood classics I grew up with! 5 stars
12/18/05 Quigley it was scary 3 stars
12/03/05 cr a classic story of boy and a alien = great adventure movie 4 stars
9/02/05 Zack i have mixed feelings about this film 3 stars
8/03/05 ALDO Has the best film score ever, so enjoyable at moments, it's embarrassing 5 stars
5/26/05 great movie that gets better everytime I watch it. 5 stars
4/26/05 Dr. Lecter Utter sap 1 stars
1/14/05 Nick Boyd A great family film 5 stars
12/26/04 elliott forget disney! this is the best children's movie ever! 5 stars
12/20/04 movie fan excellent piece of artistry 5 stars
11/09/04 Homer Boring 2 stars
9/24/04 RJ968 Manipulative garbage 1 stars
7/03/04 American Slasher Goddess One word: Classic 5 stars
5/18/04 Jen Dreifort as a child too long. as an adult wonderful 4 stars
5/01/04 susan lee classic! drew barrymore! 4 stars
11/27/03 John well directed and well scored but a classic? certainly not 3 stars
9/06/03 Dimitri Aubert Did I miss the magic? Certainly! 3 stars
8/08/03 Liz I hate it. Who cares about a stupid, homely alien 1 stars
6/19/03 John Aster Habig E.T.'s fame belongs to Henry Thomas who brought sincere emotion to it 5 stars
6/14/03 Alice The cutest Alien ever !!! Get me those tissues ! 5 stars
4/01/03 Luke Skywalker funny film. E.T. is like a small fallus. 4 stars
3/12/03 GMan HUH HUH HUH ALIEN HUH HUH HUH... 5 stars
2/12/03 Drew Barrymore Steven, you cocksucker! You promised me 15% of the gross! 1 stars
2/10/03 Steven Spielberg I know, I know... but I'm a fuckin' business man. 1 stars
1/10/03 Chiendog A cute, cuddly, 2-hour puke-inducing infomercial. Steven Speilberg eats shit. 1 stars
11/01/02 chris how can you not like this movie? best score ever 5 stars
10/26/02 Josh If you don't like E.T., you don't have heart. A classic. 5 stars
9/24/02 I Can't Swim For once, Steve-o hits all the right notes-material is perfect for his limited talents 5 stars
6/04/02 David A. This movie goes to the bathroom in its pants! Stink, Stank, Stunk! 1 stars
5/15/02 R.W. Welch Quite original work though a bit cutsey in spots. 4 stars
5/13/02 Dark Baron So overrated I wet my pants with blood. What a load of shit. 1 stars
3/25/02 Dave MacDougall If you don't love this movie then movies just aren't your thing. 5 stars
3/07/02 travis r. sorensen i cried like a bitch 5 stars
2/26/02 kendall the most emotional, perfect, magical movie in the world. 5 stars
10/15/01 ElephantShoes BARRRRRRFF!! Thanks for Drew Barrymore though! 3 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk I saw this in theatres when I was a baby...scard the shit out of me. 5 stars
7/28/01 Henry Ginsberg One of the fondest memories of my childhood . 5 stars
6/23/01 erik the movieman I Challenge Anyone With a Heart Not To Cry At the End of the Flick! 5 stars
5/29/01 joe its a good movie and has lots to offer 5 stars
5/29/01 Shannon This movie is the best movie in the world! 5 stars
4/28/01 I love movies this movie makes no sense! why did E.T. get sick? far from Spielberg's best 3 stars
4/16/01 Del R A movie of the rater's childhood, of course I do love it 5 stars
2/28/01 The Evil Penguin You call this a movie?!!! Close Encounters is much better 2 stars
2/17/01 rachel good 5 stars
2/15/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi A personal favorite. If you have a heart (not just a precardium) this one's for you. 5 stars
1/22/01 Stewart Ball What's wrong with you bad-asses? This movie is one of Spielberg's best. 5 stars
12/28/00 Turtle Kind of dumb. Why is this a classic? 3 stars
12/02/00 The Evil Penguin never trust The Triangle Man 2 stars
11/28/00 Cristopher Revilla classic movie, one to enjoy with the family 5 stars
11/13/00 The EVIL Penguin The worst SCI-FI film I've ever saw; Watch Close Encounters instead 2 stars
11/12/00 Prashanth You do not want to miss out on this ... that is if you did !! 4 stars
6/15/00 dennis its a classic, will always love it 5 stars
3/12/00 Richard Wright O. A nice film but it does have its dull and sappy spots.Its popularity is unfathomable... 3 stars
10/11/99 Weird Andy I thought it sucked when I was 8, I still hate it at 24. 1 stars
10/10/99 gil barket-paz good 4 stars
9/04/99 lindsey i'm doing E.T. for a project in school,and i think it's one of the all best time movies! 5 stars
6/15/99 Dylan I was expecting to be moved to tears but I was bored to fucking tears. Visually amazing. 3 stars
2/18/99 Piz ET was for kids of my day the best movie hero..i still watch it 4 stars
11/25/98 DrEvil Filmmaking is manipulation, and E.T. is wonderfully manipulative. 5 stars
11/16/98 Jules Even as a kid I was bothered by the obviousness of this movie. 3 stars
10/27/98 Silent Rob An early peek at the manipulativeness, that is Speilberg. 3 stars
9/08/98 MikeF This is one of the movies my gay uncle gave me for christmas. I loved it, it's ok now. 4 stars
9/08/98 Swan I'm sorry, but I could FEEL Spielberg's hands tug my strings! Manipulative, pure & simple! 3 stars
9/06/98 Badass Excellent. 5 stars
9/02/98 J-Guy first movie that made me cry. I was 3. 4 stars
8/24/98 The Capital City Goofball D-d-d-d-don't believe the hype! 3 stars
8/20/98 The Man With The Helmet It's very 80's, but great for the kids. 4 stars
8/16/98 Johny I think I'm the only one who thinks this film sucks 2 stars
8/16/98 {{{OZ}}} Perfect for it's time, not so great nowadays. 3 stars
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  11-Jun-1982 (PG)



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