By Michael Kaye
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (Review)
Welcome back to another installment of Flashback Cinema. This weekend is the release of the new Steven Spielberg film, The BFG, which is his return to his family friendly roots. In honor of this, today we're going back to one of the biggest blockbuster hits from 1982, the sci-fi classic, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
Here's the story. A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home-world.
For a lot of people, this is their favorite Spielberg film of all time. I don't know I'd call it my favorite per se, but it most certainly belongs in the conversation. Here are some of the reasons why I love this movie.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Let's start things off with the man himself, Steven Spielberg. What makes this film so beloved is the fact that it was inspired in part by his own childhood memories, combined with elements from a failed follow up to Close Encounters of the Third Kind he worked on called Night Skies. His personal connection to the story gives this movie a great deal of authenticity in terms of capturing that youthful spirit. Now, as much as I like Spielberg's historical dramas, it's films like E.T. that I feel are right in his wheelhouse. Seeing this movie on the big screen really made me appreciate scenes such as the first flying bike sequence, as well as the opening, which has a great sense of mystery and intrigue.
The cast in this film did a fantastic job. Henry Thomas is great as Elliot, our main character who forms a physical, mental and emotional bond with E.T. The chemistry he shares with his sibling, played by a very young Drew Barrymore and Robert MacNaughton feels very believable, like this is exactly how brothers and sisters behave. Dee Wallace is kind of underrated as Mary, the recently divorced mother.
A name that hardly ever comes up when talking about this movie is Carlo Rambaldi, who designed the animatronics of E.T. I'm trying to imagine what it would be like if this movie was made today, but the idea of a computer animated version of E.T. is kind of terrifying. Funny enough, that's pretty much how Mars, Incorporated felt about the design. They were so turned off by its "ugly" design that they refused to allow M&M's to appear in the film. In hindsight, that was probably their biggest regret, since this movie helped put their competitor, Reese's Pieces, on the map.
Finally, it's a Spielberg film, so I have to talk about John Williams's score. That main theme really captures childhood imagination perfectly, and it works really well during the flying bike sequence. There's a reason he earned that AFI Lifetime Achievement Award, and it's because the music that he composes has lasted throughout multiple generations.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is a fantastic sci-fi adventure film for all ages. Spielberg truly had all the right tools, from the cast, to the story, to the animatronics team, and John Williams's score. It's exciting to see Spielberg returning to his roots, even going as far as re-teaming with E.T.'s screenwriter Melissa Mathison on The BFG.
Now I wanna hear from you guys! What did you think of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, and which upcoming Steven Spielberg projects are you most looking forward to? Drop your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned for my next editorial, where I finally get to talk about Neon Demon, as well as share my thoughts on which comic book property would be best suited for director Nicolas Winding Refn.