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E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: The 20th Anniversary Edition [ORIGINAL RECORDING REMASTERED] [EXTRA TRACKS]

E.T. Review

Directed By: Steven Spielberg.
Starring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace Stone, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore, Robert McNaughton.

Synopsis: E.T. is Steven Spielberg's warmhearted classic for both children and adults. It tells the story of an alien creature, E.T., mistakenly left behind on Earth. When a young boy, Elliott (Henry Thomas), finds E.T. and hides him in his home, both their worlds are changed forever. E.T. teaches Elliott and his two siblings (Drew Barrymore and Robert MacNaughton), whose parents have recently separated, about caring and love while the children protect E.T. from the malevolent world of grown-ups. Elliott and E.T. become so close that they share emotions; as E.T. becomes ill, so does Elliott. The children end up going on a fabulous adventure trying to help E.T. find a way back to his home planet.

E.T. Phone Home! - But Don't Bring You Cell Phones To This One, Folks!

There's no scene worth missing...and children in the audience help enhance this film, so bring your kids instead. Bring your neighbor's kids. Heck, make it a school field trip!

I went to this movie - scared! No, not fearful that I'd be abducted by little brown aliens that lure me in with them Reeses Pieces. Not afraid that I'd sit next to that guy that talks out loud for the entire movie, you'd think he was narrator! No, it wasn't any of that at all.

When I heard that Steven Spielberg was re-releasing E.T. - The Extra Terrestrial, I was, at first, fanatic! One of my Top 5 favorite movies of all time coming back to the big screen! Rumor had it that Spielberg took liberties at adding additional unseen footage which really siked me up! However, when I found out that Industrial Light & Magic, the same special effects company that worked on the original, was also adding digital facial expressions and CGI shots of the endearing alien, I nearly choked, to say the least. This is not to discredit ILM, who have built up a world-renowned reputation for state-of-the-art, cutting edge special effects, since they were founded in the late 1970s for George Lucas' "Star Wars." But in the past, when I've seen an effects flick, particularly with computer generated images interacting with humans, I'm almost always able to see the difference. Skin and surface texture, in my own opinion, have not yet been perfected. Good thing, too....or some actors may be out of a job. Needless to say, I didn't want the cute little space alien that I grew up with to lose face...(pun intended.)

Well, folks, I am happy to say that this movie can still make me cry. Yes, I am a man! And damn it, I shed tears! Now let's hear all you closet male tear jerks come out and redeem yourselves! It's OK, really....Armed with my own personal bag of Reeses Pieces and tissue paper, I sat through nearly two hours of pure genius and magical storytelling. From the moment it came on screen to the last credit, E.T. has made a comeback. There's no need for a bulk of advertising - the kids who saw this movie 20 years ago are now parents bringing their children. It doesn't matter that the original has been on t.v. or that it's available on video - the movie must be experienced in a theater. And parents know that.

This film was such a nostalgic experience for me that I can now vouch for the sentiments our elders feel when reminiscing in the stew of childhood memories. Maybe it was the Texas Instruments toys, the hair styles, wearing striped tube socks up to the knee, or the "No Nukes" t-shirt...Ahh, the 80's....Let's face it, E.T. could never be made wouldn't hold up. At the moment he gets trapped on earth, the kid would just hand the space alien a cell phone and tell him to phone home with a Nokia, praying his mom has a good long distance plan. OK, enough tongue in cheek.

I was around five years old when this movie premiered back in 1982. I remember it as one of the first I ever saw on the big screen. I fell in love with E.T. the instant I laid eyes upon it. Maybe it was the story - a young boy, Elliot, without a father and living with his distressed mother and siblings, struggling to find someone to validate his existence - someone he can trust - someone he can share his feelings with...literally. How about the fear of being far from home, separated from family, as this beloved creature is here? On some level, we can all relate. Of course, at five, I wasn't thinking this. I just looked at E.T. as cute. Still I felt the separation anxiety when he had to go. Kids can relate. Take a toy away from them. But adults can relate much more. Our experiences and responsibilities, our lost innocence, passed love ones - we have all grieved and we have most likely all felt love and been loved at some point in our lives. What made this movie great in 1982 and continues to keep it alive today is it's universal language. It speaks to kids of every generation and the lost children within ourselves; that something inside that doesn't want to part with that other something it's grown attached to.

The movie delivers a powerful message of love - a bond between E.T. and Elliot, so true and strong, that we should all look on it with envy that more of us can't 'feel' the way these two characters do about each other. It carries us through a dark time, when we believe our new friend is dying, which is an achievement within itself: E.T. manages to make us care about it's characters and what they feel, think, and do. We don't want to say goodbye in the end, but we know it's inevitable. "Come," E.T. asks. "Stay," Elliot replies. They both know they can't. "Ouch," E.T. cries. Such few words are spoken here, yet this sequence is likely one of the most heart-wrenching, dramatic scenes in any film I can recall. Even children will understand.This is the end. But still we are offered hope. "I'll be right here," E.T. says in parting. We know he means in heart and spirit. It is pure filmmaking. It is timeless. What I really enjoy about this film is that you don't have to think a lot...just allow yourself to feel. The story is told in such a heartwarming, careful manner, it's hard not to fall in love with all the characters. And by the film's conclusion, E.T. won't be just a cute alien for most of you, like he was when you were younger. He'll be you're old best friend, a departed relative or pet...Someone you miss.

Spielberg has utilized the most sophisticated technology of today to help bring this creature to life, which is nothing less than he did in 1982 with animatronics and Go-Motion, and nothing more than we could ask now. There are a few additional scenes in the movie never before released, notably an entire sequence with E.T. in the bathtub. These were scenes filmed at the time, but left out of the final cut. Since we never saw them, the original latex creation that was used on set was replaced almost entirely with computer graphics for these shots. There are also several existing scenes where they replaced the facial expressions and eye movement so that it wasn't as mechanical. Could I tell? Um, yah. Maybe it's because I'm use to the original images and they are subliminally engrained in my mind....Possibly, it's due to my exposure to computer graphics...I don't know, exactly...In many ways, one could make a case that although the original mechanical alien may have been too "stiff" - the new computerized faces may look TOO animated....This will be distracting to some, but will fly by others who will simply be captured by the magic of this film experience. I'm not saying they weren't done well, they were! Also, most of the body movement is original, so the puppeteers' work was not for naught. Most others probably won't know the difference. Personally, I never had a problem with the original's facial expressions, which looked real enough to me, and I don't have a problem with the revamped one's either.

There is another scene where, in the original, the FBI agents guns' were replaced with walkie talkies. I heard they were doing this ahead of time and it infuriated me, not for visual reasons, but moreover the idea of tampering with a classic. I didn't mind additional stuff, but taking away?! It was suggested that they were removed due to all of the adolescent violence in the media and the recent tragedy to our nation, which I hated to think was a motivational factor. But I rest easier, now. The shots that incorporated the rifles never really demand them since they were never fired anyway, so we lose nothing by their replacements. It was a refreshing feeling and quite forgettable. Many of you will also be happy to note that the line 'Penis Breath' is still in the film, despite rumors that said the opposite. The very beginning of the movie has more striking forest footage and the silhouettes of the kids against the moon at the most climactic moment were actually doubled by real actors, rather than figurines. Most importantly, the ending's 'goodbye' sequence seemed to be extended to show a bit more interaction between Elliot and E.T. before he departs, plus more emotional facial expression, which really pushes for the need to bring extra Kleenex to the theaters with you. I always felt this scene ran too short...Now, I am complete. For those purists out there, you'll be happy to know that Spielberg will offer both the untouched original and the new director's cut together on the dvd release, slated for later this year. I could see either, but I'd now prefer the newer version.

In the meantime, go see this movie. It'll bring back lots of good memories, make new ones and will hopefully set an example for all of us: If two beings worlds apart could love each other so much, why can't we? That is why, this movie means more to me now, then it did when I was a child...I didn't know.

Copyright© Written By: Joe Glickman

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