E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, (1982/2002), Runtime - 115mins, Cert U.

Director - Steven Spielberg.

Writer - Melissa Mathison.

Starring - Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, K.C. Martel, Peter Coyote & ET.

 

Premise - An alien creature is searching a Californian forest for flora and fauna samples when his group is disturbed by some humans and his craft takes off without him. Left behind, he wanders to a near by suburb and befriends Elliott (Henry Thomas) and his family. Will ET ever get home, or will the shady government agency reach him first?

My only previous experience of ET was an old pirated copy that had been shot by someone in a theatre. It was grainy, poorly lit and I could hear the guy behind me eating a pack of Skittles. Flash forward a good ten years and Mr Spielberg has done a Lucas. Heís taken the old film (just in time for the 20th anniversary), dusted it off and done some digital tweaking.

ET now looks more real than animatronics could ever have achieved thanks to some seamless CG work, the bike flying scenes have been cleaned up, ETís ship is now a digital creation and the government agents now brandish walkie-talkies rather than guns. To tell the truth if I hadnít known about the guns being changed I wouldnít have noticed, it takes nothing away from the film. I know some people were upset, but I donít see the problem. I believe the word Ďterroristí was also changed to Ďhippieí, but again itís no great shakes.

At the end of the day though the changes are ultimately cosmetic and donít alter the fact that even today, ET is one of the finest kid movies ever made. Spielbergís deft touch ensures that the movie is at the same time charming, sad, scary and funny. Which are all the right ingredients for a superior kidís film. The subtle way in which Spielberg shoots the majority of the film from a low angle, from either ETís or Elliottís point of view, placing the viewer right in the heart of the film, is sheer genius.

Spielberg is the master at generating an emotional response from an audience. The family he creates here is a real family, recently divorced parents and bickering children, it grounds the film in reality. When ET comes along he adds a heart to the family that was missing before. You feel the bond grow and grow between the kids and ET, Spielberg milks this in the final third creating some heart tugging moments. He might lay the sentimentality on a little thick at the end (I think the rainbow was a bit much), but it would take a cold, black heart not to be emotionally affected.

Adding immensely to the emotional impact of the film is the relationship between Elliot and ET. Henry Thomas is excellent as Elliott and his performance feels incredibly authentic. In-fact heís the polar opposite of Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace who was about as wooden and fake as it gets. Itís testament to both Thomasí performance and the work by ILM (in both the original form and the CG version) that we buy so easily into this relationship and care about the two parties.

The relationship between Drew Barrymore and ET is also a joy. Barrymoreís wide eyed innocence is a little unnerving considering how her life would pan out, but put that to the back of your mind and revel in the glorious scenes between Gertie and ET. Peter Coyote also shows up later in the film and I like his role a lot. He is the kind of man that you could see Elliott growing into, a nice piece of work from Coyote.

John Williamsís now classic score helps the emotional impact of the film incredibly. As his score soars during the flying bike scenes or the finale you canít help but get goose bumps. Keep an ear out for a cheeky segue into The Empire Strikes Backís Yoda Theme as the kids pass someone in a Yoda costume on Halloween. Williams just doesnít write scores like this anymore. His stuff for Harry Potter and the new Star Wars flicks, whilst good, just donít have the same impact as his scores from this era have.

I could go on and on about the small touches here and there that I love about this film. The scene where Elliottís mother looks into the closet and mistakes ET for a toy springs immediately to mind. The afore mentioned (now iconic) bike flying scenes are also high points. The first meeting between Elliott and ET and the frog freeing scene are another two great moments.

Simply put ET is a classic film, be it the original version or this new Lucas-fied version. Itís a great film for kids and just as good a film for adults. Overbearing, syrupy ending aside ET is funny, scary and sad, what it adds up to is a superior movie watching experience for you and your family.

 

/10.

See E.T. The Extra Terrestrial if you enjoyed - Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars, Harry Potter.

Poster Quote - Take it home.