E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Movie/DVD Review) - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 2 Old 07-23-07, 11:20 AM Thread Starter
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E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Movie/DVD Review)

The Movie
Ah, 1982. Kahn got his vengeance (or tried, anyway). Galen showed Vermithrax that he can't continue to bully peasants. And a small, pudgy alien got left behind on this world when his buddies panicked and fled. June 11 was that much more of a surprise because our image of "little green men" had been shaped largely by a little film called "Alien" three years prior (and it's many copy-cats): that of vicious, chest bursting, slimy monsters. And now a confession: during it's initial run, I absolutely hated anything to do with E.T. Why? Certainly not because of the movie itself, but because of the marketing overdrive that lasted the better part of a year. You could not turn on the radio without hearing how much "E.T. Loves You", followed by a pitch for a child's stuffed toy. For me, only one movie has reached the same heights of advertisement overkill since, and I still get queasy when I hear the line "Mamma always told me life was like a box o' chocolates…" (but, I digress). Revisiting the film after these many years not only brought the magic back, but memories of the world as it was.

I won't rehash the plot here, but the sheer simplicity is refreshing. Back when Spielberg was at the top of his game (IMO), this is the film that earned him the moniker "Hollywood's biggest kid". Here we have a pre-CGI era film, where the titular character is a mass of latex and animatronics. And the worst of all cinematic sins, the lead characters are mostly kids. This could so easily have been a disaster, in any other hands. Spielberg masterfully crafts an emotionally engaging story that works on every level, aided by the wonderful score by John Williams. While watching it again the other night, it occurred to me that I was becoming misty eyed over the fate of a puppet…?!? Taking a mental inventory of the films I have seen lately, the number that have done that could be counted on one hand. A film that can literally grab the audience by their emotional lapels, without resorting to the standard "feel-good" cinematic clichés? Now, that is filmmaking!

The Disc
In 2002, following the lead of George Lucas, Spielberg decided to give the film a digital facelift for the 20th anniversary (but, thankfully, he did not try and bury the original version). The result was less than enthusiastically received, given the obvious PC nature of the modifications. I am reviewing the original version here, which Universal made available along with the butchered 2002 version, and in another show of class, the original received the same fantastic restoration (including a DTS track!). I found the picture to be quite good, only becoming a little grainy (not film grain) during some of the darker scenes. The color palette was spot-on to my eyes, and EE was never a problem. The main thing I noticed was John William's incredible score, and how it worked in concert (no pun intended) with the visuals. In DTS, this effect is merely accentuated, but never to the point of distraction. Audio detail is very well represented, and the surrounds are utilized only when appropriate (as is the LFE). Given the fact that the film is over twenty years old, I think the soundtrack holds up very well.

Final comments
Unless I am completely off base, I believe that the original print was digitally restored prior to the special edition work, so both versions share the same PQ. I watched the silver anniversary cut the other night, just to say that I had seen it, but the original is still the definitive version (I seriously doubt the special edition will ever see the light of day again). And, coming from me, that is saying something: I generally like directors cuts as they flesh out the original (in many, not all, cases). In this case, however, the old adage comes to mid: "If it ain't broken, don't fix it."

Peace... Vader

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Last edited by Vader; 07-23-07 at 11:37 AM.
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post #2 of 2 Old 07-23-07, 12:22 PM
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Re: E.T. The Extraterrestrial (Movie/DVD Review)

Good review...

Over 10 years passed me by before I finally broke down and watched this movie and that was on LD. We own it on DVD now, but I've not watched it yet. Your review has definitely tempted me to put it next on my list of movies to watch.

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