Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Critics Consensus

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is deeply humane sci-fi exploring male obsession, cosmic mysticism, and music.



Total Count: 59


Audience Score

User Ratings: 141,878
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Movie Info

Steven Spielberg followed Jaws (1975), his first major box-office success, with this epic science fiction adventure about a disparate group of people who attempt to contact alien intelligence. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is an electrical lineman who, while sent out on emergency repairs, witnesses an unidentified flying object, and even has a "sunburn" from its bright lights to prove it. Neary's wife and children are at first skeptical, then concerned, and eventually fearful, as Roy refuses to accept a "logical" explanation for what he saw and is prepared to give up his job, his home, and his family to pursue the "truth" about UFOs. Neary's obsession eventually puts him in contact with others who've had close encounters with alien spacecraft, including Jillian (Melinda Dillon), a single mother whose son disappeared during her UFO experience, and Claude Lacombe (celebrated French filmmaker François Truffaut), a French researcher who believes that we can use a musical language to communicate with alien visitors. Lacombe's theory is put to the test when a band of government researchers and underground UFO enthusiasts (including Neary) join for an exchange with alien visitors near Devil's Tower, Wyoming. In 1980, a "Special Edition" was released. While its primary selling point was the addition of scenes inside the alien spaceship, Spielberg claimed that he also cleaned up some choppy editing in the second act. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Melinda Dillon
as Jillian Guiler
Teri Garr
as Ronnie Neary
François Truffaut
as Claude Lacombe
Bob Balaban
as David Laughlin
J. Patrick McNamara
as Project leader
Cary Guffey
as Barry Guiler
Shawn Bishop
as Brad Neary
Adrienne Campbell
as Sylvia Neary
Justin Dreyfuss
as Toby Neary
Merrill Connally
as Team Leader
George DiCenzo
as Major Benchley
Philip Dodds
as Jean Claude
Roger Ernest
as Highway Patrolman
Amy Douglass
as Implantee
Josef Sommer
as Larry Butler
Gene Rader
as Hawker
Norman Bartold
as Ohio Tolls
F.J. O'Neil
as ARP Project Member
Randy Herman
as Returnee #1 Flt. 19
Hal Barwood
as Returnee #2 Flt. 19
David Anderson
as Air Traffic Controller
Bill Thurman
as Air Traffic
Chuy Franco
as Federale
James Keane
as Radio Telescope Team
Dennis McMullen
as Radio Telescope Team
Matt Emery
as Special Leader
Galen Thompson
as Special Forces
John Dennis Johnston
as Special Forces
Jon Ewing
as Dirty Tricks #1
Keith Atkinson
as Dirty Tricks #2
Robert Broyles
as Dirty Tricks #3
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Critic Reviews for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (56) | Rotten (3)

Audience Reviews for Close Encounters of the Third Kind

  • Feb 04, 2016
    This sci-fi classic has aged well, the graphics still look great by today's standards. But the story was slow and the characters unmemorable.
    Letitia L Super Reviewer
  • Feb 18, 2013
    Spielberg's best Science Fiction film, ("E.T." would be his best family film) "Close Encounters" trumps all the notions of a typical extra-terrestrial flick for memorable iconography and truly dazzling music/SFX.
    Joshua H Super Reviewer
  • Aug 26, 2012
    The way Spielberg portrays these "close encounters" is realistic for its subtlety and the scenes with the UFO's make you more and more curious. It's not like modern in-your-face and flashy kind of action alien movie like Cowboys and Aliens, but more like how Jaws portrayed the sharks: with care and only shows the UFO's when worthy of being shown. Richard Dreyfuss' obsession with drawing and sculpting this mountain that he keeps having visions of is undoubtedly interesting, and it all leads up to an incredible final act. It may not be Spielberg's best, but it's certainly worth seeing.
    Kevin M Super Reviewer
  • Jul 22, 2012
    Though I understand how groundbreaking this film was for it's time, viewing it now had always been a little dull to me. The conclusion though is a breathtaking piece of filmmaking.
    Graham J Super Reviewer

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