ET The Extra Terrestrial

Movie Review by Dr Kuma

Starring: Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, Drew Barrymore, Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton
Director: Steven Spielberg

Well, here’s a movie that really doesn’t need a review as it’s become so famous that it has embedding whole lines of it’s script into the language of this island called Earth (E.T. phone home, Elliiooottt etc). So, a few years ago Spielberg promised us a sack load of ‘improvements’ to some of his biggest movies. The rubber shark Bruce (in JAWS) was going to have a makeover (a good idea) and his sugary sentimental mega hit E.T. was going to be re-touched with added scenes in anticipation for it’s 20 th Anniversary release (is it really that long!). So was it all worth it?

It’s a well known saying that you should never re-touch a masterpiece, just let it fade elegantly, knowing that one day it will be recognised as a great work and become respectable/trendy again. Well that may be so, but when E.T. was first released I thought it was one of the most overblown, disappointing movies I’d ever seen and that it really was just a nice remake of the old sci-fi movie THE MAN FROM PLANET X, which itself is a bit of a plodder. Perhaps it was just my teenage-self rebelling against the hype, but I used to say that E.T. was one of the worst films I’d ever seen. Of course I was wrong. I saw it again several years later and realised that this slight little movie was really Spielberg’s homage to a lost time – that of his childhood – and all the decisions and changes it brings with it. I really think adults appreciate this when viewing it again. I realised the movie had a lot more to say and that really the interaction between E.T. and the family was the core of the film, not the special effects I went to see originally. It’s the old story of an outsider and how he affects the family in his short stay with them (Spielberg is obviously a huge fan of the Robert Wise classic THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL).

So even further down the line, how does the film stand up? Well the changes and additions are fewer and subtler than his friend Lucas has been on the Star Wars trilogy. The only real changes here are that the print is very crisp and that walkie-talkies have replaced guns in some scenes, plus the famous ‘bath scene’ with E.T. has now been added to this new director’s cut. It’s not Spielberg’s best film and seemed overly expensive for what essentially was a very simple story, although now the new version looks so much better than it did 20 years ago.

Dr Kuma’s verdict: E.T. – see it on the big screen before the extra (terrestrial) run when it returns to TV as the Christmas blockbuster in a few years.

5 out of 6 stars