E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial Reviews

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May 25, 2018
In Fall 2002, Steven Spielberg, under the influence of George Lucas, released the 20th anniversary special edition of E.T., with over 50 digitally enhanced shots and bonus material. I couldn't wait to recapture the feeling I got that first time I saw it. Thinking, this is what Spielberg wants us to see, I should naturally feel it stronger. I didn't. That emotionally charged bicycle ride through the woods, as E.T. lifts Eliot up into the sky and over the moon, was tainted by something. Either I had expended the emotion with previous viewings, or I was in denial that my beloved Spielberg had made a boo-boo. Still, I went on for years watching only the special edition, because that was the definitive version given to us by the artist, and we should respect the artist. Until you find out that the artist did not like his friend's advice, hated the added effects, and withdrew that version from any further release. So just recently, after years away from E.T., I decided to revisit, especially since I'm going through a nostalgic kickback, rediscovering the roots of my cinematic passion after completing my screenplay. I strictly stuck to the purist 1982 version, no added effects. With E.T., I immediately saw color correction problems, made possible by our very bright modern TV sets, which would've otherwise been polished digitally. But there was something so edible about that rawness; it not only didn't bother me, it actually triggered the thing which makes me crave cinema. I was waiting through the first parts of the film - would it happen, would I ever feel what my younger self felt? There was something, but it wasn't all there yet. Spielberg is so meticulous in the tiniest movements that trigger our sensitivity, the sound of ET's despair, the feeling of his abandonment, the cruelty in another's fear of him.

I could really feel myself settling into all of the practical effects, loving the provenance of this cinema as a mark of it's time. The night sky was not refurbished, the moon hazy and diffused as Elliot goes outside to see what's in the shed. Allen Daviau shoots light through fog, deepening the mystery: what's in there? It throws a ball back to Elliot, causing him to drop pizza. Inside, Spielberg circles around a disorganized kitchen of teens playing cards, ordering pizza, a perv trying to touch mom's ass, and who is smoking that cigarette lit on the table? This is Michael's clique, who will be very important later on - for now, they're a bunch of wankers. Elliot makes his claim that something is out there, and sure enough they go out to find nothing is there but a mush pizza Elliot stepped on running from the unseen creature. Later, Elliot goes looking for him through a cornfield - Carol Littleton strings as much coverage of a screaming Elliot as she can muster after he finds the creature. Something is so beautiful and familiar about this wondrous boy gazing upon the red-lit gate in his backyard after the creature runs away, swings swinging, trash cans falling over - he knows there's something extraordinary.

Elliot decides to stay up and wait outside for the creature to return. What soul seeking person hasn't camped out in their own yard to ponder the majesty of infinite space, make wishes during a meteor shower, wait for a flash of the Aurora Borealis, or perhaps catch that rare glimpse of a UFO? Spielberg plays on the popular psyche around aliens for only a brief suspenseful moment when the creature confronts Elliot, silhouetted by strong backlight, Williams creeping music, unnerving cautious steps, followed by quick jerky ones... the creature has been following a trail of Reeses Pieces. It, or he, reveals his warmth to us when he hands the Reeses back to Elliot. This is not Ridley Scott's Alien; he's friendly. Spielberg, using the same philosophy to opposite effect from Jaws, is careful not to reveal too much as ET makes his way into Elliot's room. The textures of ET's movements are so subtle and effective, striking sensitive chords in the viewer akin to how we see our pets in their most loving, innocent moments. To tarnish this with CGI is a sin; we need the purity of Carlo Rambaldi's magic puppetry.

What ultimately has us empathizing with ET is his childlike fear of the unknown, stemming from that horrible feeling of abandonment. The way we look up at the looming trees of an unknown dark forest impresses this perspective on the viewer. As much as Elliot is the child in us all, that of adventure, ET is too, that of fear... both of unconditional love. It's so choice that we see the fear-mongers from NASA, or the teacher at school, only at waist level from a child's POV. ET and Elliot are about the same height, further reflections of each other. We are reminded at a certain point that the pair don't think each other's thoughts as much as they feel each other's feelings. In their friendship, both learn to conquer fears of adult authoritarianism and special interests for selfish gain. I especially love how Elliot revolts the cruelty of dissecting a frog in class while ET gets drunk at home watching The Quiet Man, whose imagery mirrors Elliot kissing a girl at the end of his crusade.

Spielberg is not at all shy to admit that John Williams often saves his films, which are almost operatic in their reliance on his score. Halloween night is the scene I always have to brace myself. Not only am I looking at my childhood adventures through the forest, but ET truly propels it into the mystic I always sought. Suddenly, Elliot loses control of the bike - what's happening? He's not rolling down a hill, it's moving at a steady, balanced pace - ET is in control! Where is he leading us? Williams is asking the same thing as the orchestra builds it's confoundedness. Whooshing past the tall trees, through the dark fog, a miracle of kinetic energy steering this bicycle. A piano enters. They near a cliff - we're at the end, Williams crescendo... aaaaanndd SOAR! The ET theme explodes through our hearts and over the moon, one of American cinema's most iconic shots. And yes, I do cry. We are now taller than the trees.

This moment is even more majestic when the clique and ET are all together. All the emotion leading into it is profound. NASA's home invasion is straight out of a horror. But they think they're doing the right thing. At this point, ET and Elliot are getting sick. But their spiritual link is diminishing; Elliot starts reviving while ET is losing life. We meet Keys face to face finally, who has been stalking ET and Elliot the whole film - he's sensitive to the pair, and is happy Elliot met him first. ET finally dies, the mood is somber. Elliot is given some time to say goodbye... but this has been trickery all along, a defense mechanism - ET is alive! Michael and Elliot steal the van with ET in it, meet the clique at the playground, and Williams enters with his high key adventure score as they pedal away, ET in the lead. We can feel their adrenaline as they misdirect police cars, jump over hills, and race around until they meet the roadblock. Once again, an obstacle before us, the odds are against them, but here comes that Williams crescendo, CU on ET (triangle rining) - he's doing something, we can feel the energy he's igniting in everyone else... aaanndd SOAR! This time over the setting Sun. He takes them to the destination that will rendezvous with the mother ship.

Before digital technology allowed directors to overstuff their films with superfluous action, they had to be choice, delicate, making the best decisions to trigger the viewer's sensitivities. Every single shot is perfect in this film, and limitations only enhance the experience. Without the raw texture of ET's face, shadows to conceal his imperfections and light to reveal his life, we are left with an ungraspable image. There's no substitute for the real thing to an actor on set, which makes their performance so genuinely emotional. For Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, and Robert MacNaughton, ET was a real, living, breathing creature. They didn't imagine that glowing heart or radiant healing finger, they saw and felt it. It touched them the way it touched us all. With the divine pen of Melissa Mathison, I believe E.T. The Extra Terrestrial is Steven Spielberg's crowning masterpiece, as it is his most personal work.
May 19, 2018
Sweet little classic whose charm is in her lack of ostentatiousness. Well-acted and simple but winsome plot, peppered with Christic themes.
May 2, 2018
E.T The Extra-Terrestrial is another fun, endearing and emotion filled Spielberg adventure, even if it doesn't have the same punch as his other films
½ April 16, 2018
E.T. is one of my favorite movies. It's charming, adorable, and pulls you in right from the start.
½ April 8, 2018
Rewatched Feb 09, 2018
This is some wholesome s**t
April 3, 2018
Spielberg's greatest impact on pop culture.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is Steven Spielberg's ultimate cultural touchstone for everyone's childhood. Spielberg redefines alien encounters with E.T. as a lovable, yet realistic puppet instead of the more mystic alien life of old stories. E.T. is what people are thinking of when they refer to 1980's pop culture. It has the child protagonist that must grow up, witty humor, pop culture references, thrilling action sequences, iconic imagery, and intriguing cinematography that keeps you in suspense.

E.T. was the first film I ever saw as a child. It moved me so much that I cried. I understood the emotional connection that Elliott the boy had with E.T. even as a young boy myself. Upon revisiting E.T. as an adult, I found it largely remains charming. The wonder of the story and likability of its characters hold up well. You feel for this 80's California family suffering divorce, boredom, and bullying. You naturally empathize with Elliott's plight and situation.

On the other hand, I found E.T. to have certain aspects that so not hold up when held up to the light of modern day criticism. The acting is mostly passable from the mother and older brother in particular. They are believable and likable. Then, the main son Elliott and daughter Gertie of the movie are pretty compelling as leads. They emote well and deliver lines in a natural manner. Spielberg really coaxed respectable performances out of the young Henry Thomas and Drew Berrymore.

However, I cannot say in honesty that they are always excellent. Their screams are incessant at times and all together unpleasant. In their quieter moments, their emotions ring true. Thomas and Berrymore play innocent, afraid, curious, charming, hilarious, quaint, and brave well to their credit, but their outrageous screeches and yells are blatantly overacted. The supporting cast are serviceable as they play their parts nicely enough with what little screen time they get. Overall, I enjoyed E.T. still regardless of the performances as the film presents its own special charm all the same.

The effects are dated as far as the CGI and green screen, while the puppetry and mini models are masterful landmark achievements in special effects history. You believe the spaceship, flying, and of course, the titular character of the alien E.T. Spielberg's crew did an excellent job building a world that we can believe in reality.

Speaking of Spielberg, the director solidified his legacy as the man who made pop culture what it is today with E.T. He lets us into this world, explore the house set, and believe in E.T. as more than a puppet, but as a character too. Spielberg continues his masterful and subtle use of shadow silhouettes in E.T. as well as emotional close up shots that hold up beautifully. The cinematography is lovely and all based in a real home and neighborhood. The direction is as focused as the stream lined story. E.T. does not overstay its welcome at a respectably short run time.

Furthermore, the writing is superb. Children actually talk like real kids. The teenagers mouth off and act on their own, the little kids speak truthfully with an innocent wonder for all things new, the parents are sincere, yet aware, and the government is curious and intrusive. In all, E.T. works so well as a little adventure with a boy who befriends an alien and must accept his leaving. It's played up to be more empathetic, but it is effective. The science fiction plot-line of Elliott feeling what E.T. does is an exquisite metaphor for Elliott's empathy for E.T's emotions. I think audiences will still be moved by E.T.

Lastly, I must mention John Williams' most enchanting score is what absolutely secures E.T.'s place in people's mind as a cultural touchstone. Williams composed a beautiful score that varies from cues of uncertainty, leaps of fear, to flying through sky with his magically emotive music in the background. It fits E.T.'s atmosphere so well that the music is much of what many remember from E.T. years later. Williams' scored the soundtrack to many childhoods including mine as E.T.'s music is truly a major moment in movie history. Even taking off our nostalgia glasses, E.T. has a lovely and sweet symphony of feelings.

To conclude, Spielberg invents new iconography for our pop culture with each new release and E.T. is perhaps the greatest example of a movie that is magical. Anyone who views E.T. gets wrapped up in the little waddling alien and all the emotion that comes with him. It's a thoroughly charming movie that is highly entertaining to this day. E.T. also doubles as a well made film with all of Spielberg's movie making skills on full display. Watch E.T. with your children, friends, or family and you'll surely have a fun time. It's worth a watch.
½ March 31, 2018
The alien in this movie sucks, it's forced on whimsy and the plot is a bit bland for me.
On the other hand though, I do like the acting in this movie it's actually phenomenal and likable. I think this movie is mediocre because it has a forced whimsical feel and the E.T. character is annoying and pretty lame even for an alien. I love Steven Spielberg but in my opinion, this is not his best movie, that would go to Jurassic Park or Jaws. It's an Alright Flick
March 31, 2018
72 audience score?!?!?! Why?
March 25, 2018
probably the best movie I have ever seen as a child and what shaped me as a movie loving person.
March 21, 2018
ET died but came back to life. Then he went home.
½ March 19, 2018
Illegal alien befriends child, helps him fly across the border
March 19, 2018
one of my favorite films
March 3, 2018
Even after these years it has aged like wine, "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial" is the definition of a memorable film. Its characters, its music, its cinematography, its sound effects, its special effects, its dialogue, its plot, its scenes, its love of shadows, and of course, its love of providing love to any who watches it.
The film works beautifully on all levels by giving children, teens, and adults alike a powerful bond with these characters. We all care about what happens to them as the events unfold with some of the best pacing I've ever seen in a film. Funny enough, it's a bond similar to the one the lovable titular alien has with the main human character, Elliot.
EllioT and "E.T." ha ha ha, we see what you've done there.
February 17, 2018
1001 movies to see before you die.
February 16, 2018
It was good in it's day and still has something for the kids to enjoy.
January 19, 2018
Quite simply, the greatest fantasy/science fiction film of all time.......
January 7, 2018
My favorite film of all time. A pure cinematic experience. .
December 31, 2017
It's Spielberg at his best. This movie is exciting, especially the third act. It's very touching throughout. It's also extremely funny and iconic and overall is just FANTASTIC.
½ December 25, 2017


[Steven Spielberg]
½ December 18, 2017
Puntaje Original: 7.5

Magnífica obra de Spielberg, con el espíritu ochentero y de la niñez mas vivos con una película que trascenderá por generaciones, debido a sus muy buenos efectos especiales, que hasta la época lucen creibles aún, con una fantástica historia que hasta a los más grandes hará despertar su niño interno.
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