Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.

Monday, 4 October 2010

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial


In 1979 Ridley Scott's Alien convinced everyone that beings from outer space were monstrous killers to be petrified of. Three years later, however, Steven Spielberg showed us that they could be cute and cuddly too, especially if they came in the form of the titular pot-bellied E.T. (often played by a midget in an E.T. suit, with Pat Welsh, Debra Winger, and 15 other various people and animals creating the vocals). His appearance is truly adorable, with wide eyes, a wrinkly, cheerful face, and short legs.

In E.T. Spielberg pays homage to childhood, by creating a sci-fi adventure for the whole family. A lonely ten-year-old called Elliott (Henry Thomas) befriends the outer space being, accidentally left stranded on Earth by his own people. Elliott takes E.T. in and soon Elliott, his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and little sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore) are introducing him to Earth customs - such as how to communicate, eat candy, drink beer, dress up in Gertie's clothes and take a bath. However, their friendship can't last long as they are soon under threat from government agents, who wish to experiment on E.T.

Based on an idea Spielberg had nurtured since his parents' divorce process in 1960 E.T. is a delightful adventure that appeals to everyone's inner child, delivering comic moments in the psychic bond between Elliott and E.T.; truly uplifting moments, such as when E.T. causes Elliott's bicycle to soar (the film's signature shot); and the conclusion where E.T. bids farewell to his Earth pals will reduce the hardest of men to tears.

Spielberg's pacing of the narrative stops it from becoming too soppy or sweet, as does the mixture of humour and sadness in Melissa Mathison's screenplay. Naturally E.T. is going to draw our focus the most, thanks to his curious nature, and Winger and Welsh's raspy vocal performances, but the cast are truly wonderful and the film wouldn't work without them. Thomas almost carries the film on his little shoulders, making Elliott a powerful, quirky little kid, but also truly heartbreaking in the last thirty minutes or so. MacNaughton captures the big brother/cocky teen down to a tee, and the seven-year-old Barrymore gives a beautiful, heartfelt performance as Gertie.

All in all, E.T. is a truly heartwarming sci-fi adventure, carried by its cast, and is one of the all-time greatest examples of a family film, which will capture the heart of all who view it. It also more deservedly grossed over $790 million at the worldwide box office, stealing the title of most successful film of all time from Star Wars (1977), and kept it until the release of Spielberg's Jurassic Park (1993).

Pat Welsh, Debra Winger, Henry Thomas, Robert MacNaughton, Drew Barrymore, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote, K.C. Martel, Sean Frye, C. Thomas Howell.

Oscars: Best Visual Effects (Dennis Muren, Kenneth Smith, Carlo Rambaldi), Best Sound Editing (Charles L. Campbell, Ben Burtt), Best Sound Mixing (Robert Knudson, Robert Glass, Don Digirolamo, Gene S. Cantamessa), Best Original Score (John Williams).
Oscar nominations: Best Picture (Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy), Best Director (Steven Spielberg), Best Screenplay (Melissa Mathison), Best Editing (Carol Littleton), Best Cinematography (Allen Daviau).

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