[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B003ARSUM0][/pullquote] Released in 1982 and then re-released in 2002 with some subtle CGI-enhancements (note that the agents no longer carry guns, but carry walkie-talkies in a gun-like fashion) E.T. The Extra Terristrial is a personal family drama directed by legendary Steven Spielberg. Loosely based on his own experiences of dealing with his parents divorce, the story took shape while he filmed Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Elliott (Henry Thomas) is a young boy trying to hang out with his brother and friends. When he goes to collect a pizza for everyone he discovers an alien in his shed who he goes on to name ET. The two bond and slowly his mother (Dee Wallace) and little sister (Drew Barrymore) find out about him just as Government agents descend upon the family home to keep tabs on the alien in order to study and research. But under such close scrutiny ET and Elliott both begin to lose strength and appear to be heading towards death.
Sandwiched between two Indiana Jones action-adventure films, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial is a more child-like and emotional tale that highlights just how great and how bad the iconic director can be. In little moments of wonder, such as the reveal of the titular alien he is able to convey to his audience, regardless of age the wonders of the Universe and transports us back to a more youthful time in each of our lives. In fact, as is almost always the case his ability to capture adolescence is second to none as the conversational cacophony in the basement at the start proves. His child characters are fully-formed and three-dimensional and in Drew Barrymore he not only found a young actor who was cute-as-a-button, but who had an adults ear for comic timing. No wonder she went on to have a full and varied career.
There’s no organic understanding and combining one of John Williams more overbearing scores with some scenes where he literally shows us how to react through his minor characters and the film ends up losing some of its emotional realism and punch. It is this miscalculation and apparent lack of faith in the story that really holds E.T. back from being one of his better films.