Review: “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial – 20th Anniversary Edition”

There’s a period in one’s life, between the ages of about 7-13 or so, when the good movies one sees will leave an indelible impression on your psyche. Sure, films will come along in your teenage or adult life you’ll fall for, but the ones you love in this time remain with you pretty much forever and for many “ET” is amongst that category. However, I’m not one of them. “ET” was a film I’ve only seen once before at age 15 and was quite frankly bored at that time.

Now, almost a decade later I’ve come back to it and have to say wow, while it still doesn’t affect me like others I know (which is why I took off half a star), it nevertheless proves an astonishingly warm and enjoyable family film full of genuine sweetness and heart. It’s a welcome return of a type of filmmaking in a time when family movies like “Spy Kids” or “The Grinch” rule with more style yet zero substance. Its very hard not to get swept up in this magical tale of an alien (which quite frankly looks like a dog turd with eyes and legs) that we quickly warm too.

Spielberg’s film may have a somewhat small scale (90% of the film takes place in either a forest setting or inside the family house), but he gets major performances out of the very young cast whether it be Henry Thomas in a surprisingly powerful main hero role, or Drew Barrymore as the gorgeously funny younger sister. Being unfamiliar with the old edition, the differences in the new edition I didn’t notice at all – they were extremely well integrated and aside from the single obvious CG ET shot (the bathroom scene), the rest of the new FX are indistinguishable to those newcomers or casual acquaintances to this movie.

The film remains a little slow, the threat of the Coyote character somewhat muddily handled and a few contrivances and over sentimentality is present but they’re very minor complaints at best. Most already have a mindset about this flick – but to those who’ve never seen it (esp. youngsters) then your in for a true treat.