Revisiting Spielberg's E.T.
It would eventually hit Home Video and become as big a juggernaut as it was on the big screen. I can't even tell you how many times I saw it, but it was a lot. Not to mention the barrage of endless tie-ins, toys, and product placements, most famously with Reese's Pieces candy. But as we get older our tastes change and I kind of forgot about it, not watching it a single time for several decades, that is until the Special Edition hit on Blu Ray, which provided us with both the regular and the "touched up" a la George Lucas' Special Editions where Spielberg added a few scenes that he wasn't able to do before because of the lack of technology, and altered a scene here and there, most famously with the one where he replaces guns with giant walkie talkie's in some of the agents hands. Really, the Special Edition has become kind of a laughing stock for a few reasons, and most people still prefer to watch the original, as do I. Since watching that SE version I've unknowingly avoided this film ever since, by sheer happenstance. Flash forward quite a few years and I see that it's on Netflix, so I decide to give it a shot one afternoon as I'm full-blown into my 80's obsession and hope for the best for 2 reasons: 1) that it's the Theatrical Version, and 2), that it's still as good as I remember.
The answer to that is yes and yes. E.T. is still as magical and engaging as it ever was, even now as a 41 year old man, I enjoyed it just as much as I did so many decades ago. But I also learned something very important this time around. While Spielberg has better films under his belt, I think E.T. is his most visually stunning film to date. And that, more than anything is what really caught me by surprise because of all the films he's ever directed, most of them all-time classics, the fact that he pulled off something so visually captivating aesthetically that he hadn't been able to before or since blows my mind. Every single shot was a work of art, and I was constantly in awe of what he did on a visual level with this film.
I'm not going to bore you with every little detail about the film, other than to say that it was just as enjoyable as it was all those many years ago, only this time I was also able to fully appreciate how visually stimulating this was. For a filmmaker who's given us some fantastic films in his decades long career, most of them impressive on a technical level, I was blown away by the fact that when compared to his work on E.T., most of those other films only barely scratch the surface of what he can do with a camera in terms of compositions. On a technical side, most of the effects work is still outstanding and come off far better than most CGI that we are inundated with today. I will say though that some of the "bikes flying in the air" stuff just wasn't very good, but even so, considering "when" this was made they're still rather impressive.....for their time. I'm glad this was the Theatrical Cut too, because my memories of the Special Edition just aren't very good. I think of the scene with E.T. in the bathtub and I cringe.
Hands down an incredible experience for me all around, and proves yet again what a talented and incredible filmmaker Spielberg was in his prime. I mean, he still is, but he seems to churn out more drama's than usual these days, and when he does do an adventure film, well we get Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Need I say more?