E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: 35th Anniversary Limited Edition UHD Review

Classic film hasn't lost its charm or message. 4.5 Stars

Steven Spielberg’s magical E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial brings back many memories of childhood pleasures, apprehensions, sadness, and triumphs for the child in us all.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)
Released: 11 Jun 1982
Rated: PG
Runtime: 115 min
Director: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Family, Sci-Fi
Cast: Dee Wallace, Henry Thomas, Peter Coyote, Robert MacNaughton
Writer(s): Melissa Mathison
Plot: A troubled child summons the courage to help a friendly alien escape Earth and return to his home world.
IMDB rating: 7.9
MetaScore: 91

Disc Information
Studio: Universal
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: DTS:X, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 55 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: keep case in a lenticular slipcase
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 09/12/2017
MSRP: $49.98

The Production: 4.5/5

Steven Spielberg’s magical E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial brings back many memories of childhood pleasures, apprehensions, sadness, and triumphs for the child in us all. Produced with attention always on the younger generation’s optimism, gritty determination, and enormous heart, this movie distills the essence of these qualities within a story of discovery, friendship, and love with its focus, as did The Wizard of Oz, on the necessity for friends, family, and home.

After a gentle alien is mistakenly left behind and becomes stranded on Earth, the being is discovered and befriended by a brooding young boy named Elliott (Henry Thomas), upset over the recent separation of his parents (Dee Wallace plays the mother). Secretly bringing the extraterrestrial into his suburban California house, Elliott introduces E.T., as the alien is dubbed, to his older brother Michael (Robert MacNaughton) and his younger sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore), and the children decide to keep its existence a secret. Soon, however, government agents begin investigating the suspicious lights and sounds from the initial alien landing while E.T., who has formed a kind of psychic/kinetic bond with Elliott, falls mysteriously ill resulting in government intervention and a potentially dire situation for both Elliott and the alien.

Melissa Mathison’s wonderful script and Steven Spielberg’s inventive directorial ideas combine to paint one of the most vivid portraits of childhood since the days of Our Gang. For more than half of the movie, Spielberg keeps the adult world (apart from the children’s mother) as a faceless, rather ominous presence, uninterested in the niceties and pleasantries of existence and only concerned with furthering its own agenda. The children’s discovery and subsequent adventures with E.T. (keeping the alien hidden, playing dress up with him and teaching him rudimentary language skills, helping him forge a contraption to “phone home,” and sneaking him out of the house on Halloween night) accomplish one magical thing for them: it transforms the earlier angry, rebellious siblings into a tight, loving, bonded team who work together on their one goal: to get E.T. back to his own kind. In his enthusiasm for all things childhood, Spielberg spends too much time with Elliott at school separated for the first time from E.T. but kinetically bonded to him from afar. There is an impending biology lab (in elementary school where the kids must euthanize the frogs before they dissect them? Really?) that goes on too long (E.T. gets tipsy on Coors at home with Elliott subsequently feeling the effects at school), and there is never a satisfactory explanation for E.T.’s illness and recovery (Is it necessary to break the bond with Elliott so he can leave? Is it psychological or physiological?). But trust Spielberg to leave those kerfuffles behind with a couple of literally soaring flights of fancy and a couple of tearjerking moments that won’t leave a dry eye in the house (especially if you’re seeing the movie for the first time).

Henry Thomas (along with E.T., of course) is the star of the show as he serves strongly as the audience surrogate in its gradual love bond with the adorable alien. His emotions seem pure and real at all times, and he is utterly convincing in his affection for this alien creature. Robert MacNaughton and Drew Barrymore likewise completely convince as Elliott’s siblings, he trying hard to grow up fast and she appealingly naïve and sweet. Dee Wallace seems a bit scattered and unfocused as the mother rattled by a recent separation and her children’s odd behaviors. Peter Coyote has a rather cryptic role as Elliott’s adult doppelganger who, unlike the rest of the adults, seems to identify with the children and their affinity for the alien.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 is faithfully rendered in this 2160p transfer using the HEVC codec. The UHD transfer does a terrific job of recreating the look of the original film in theaters apart from the addition of HDR which punches up black levels in selected scenes and makes bright rays of light literally jump off the screen. Otherwise, sharpness is superb in the scenes that don’t involve matte work and opticals to combine special effects with live action where in those cases grain levels can be uneven and a tad noisy in a couple of the backgrounds. Color handling is outstanding with accurate skin tones and vivid blues and oranges in some of the movie’s most famous shots. The movie has been divided into 20 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS:X soundtrack (decoded as DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 on my equipment) certainly won’t disappoint with dialogue wonderfully recorded and placed in the center channel. John Williams’ brilliant Oscar-winning score is spread lovingly throughout the entire soundstage and is alternately powerful and playful by degrees, one of the composer’s greatest achievements. Atmospheric effects, of course, begin early and continue throughout the film superbly routed to the appropriate front and/or rear channels.

Special Features: 5/5

The UHD disc contains no bonus material. All of the following special features are included on the enclosed Blu-ray disc in the case:

Deleted Scenes (3:40, HD): a brief montage of cut scenes

Steven Spielberg & E.T. (12:31, HD): a more recent interview with the director (most of the bonuses come from earlier editions of the film on home video) finds him reminiscing about the inspiration for the movie, the casting process, and his delighted surprise at its reception.

The E.T. Journals (55:38, SD): a two-part behind-the-scenes look at the production of the movie shot fairly closely in sequence to the story unfolding on the screen. What comes across most strongly is Spielberg’s tremendous rapport with the children coaxing performances out of them that ring true.

A Look Back (37:43, SD): on the 20th anniversary of the movie, the cast and crew share memories of making the picture.

The Evolution and Creation of E.T. (50:16, SD): again, Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Melissa Mathison tell stories of the project’s conception, and the central cast remember their experiences of how they either auditioned or got cast in the movie. Spielberg also discusses the special effects which were tweaked for the 20th anniversary reissue of the film.

The E.T. Reunion (17:56, SD): producer Kathleen Kennedy, director Steven Spielberg, and actors Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton, Dee Wallace, and Peter Coyote reunite to talk about their experiences on the picture and the impact it had on their lives.

The Music of E.T. (10:04, SD): composer John Williams and director Steven Spielberg meet for him to listen to some of the major themes for the movie. There is also behind-the-scenes shots of Williams’ conducting the recording of the music for the film.

The 20th Anniversary Premiere (17:49, SD): a behind-the-scenes look at the reissue premiere held at the Shrine Auditorium with John Williams conducting a live orchestra for the presentation. There are also excerpts of the performance, and the introduction of principal cast and crew at the end of the film to thunderous applause.

Designs, Photographs and Marketing of E.T (HD): six step-through art galleries on the designs of E.T., the spaceship, and the production along with production photographs and stills and posters and other marketing ideas.

Theatrical Trailer (1:57, SD)

Special Olympics Promo Trailer (1:02, SD)

Movie Soundtrack CD: remastered disc with eight cuts of music

48-Page Souvenir Booklet

Blu-ray/Digital Copy: disc and code sheet enclosed in the case.

Overall: 4.5/5

Winner of four 1982 Academy Awards and one of the grand achievements of 20th century cinema, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial returns to home theaters in this new UHD 35th Anniversary Limited Edition with sterling picture quality and a new, immersive DTS:X soundtrack. Highly recommended!

 

Published by

Matt Hough

administrator

70 Comments

  1. I really do want this movie in 4K but I'll wait for a more reasonable price, say $25.

    You say is illness is unexplained, but the kids found him freezing in a creek. He caught a chill and it got worse. That's how I've always thought of it.

  2. Johnny AngellI really do want this movie in 4K but

    You say is illness is unexplained, but the kids found him freezing in a creek. He caught a chill and it got worse. That's how I've always thought of it.

    He had started fading before he was found comatose in that creek. I always assumed he really wasn't suited for Earth's atmosphere and was dying from that. But that just proves the point I was making. It's not clear what the problem is, nor is it clear why he dies (or appears to) and then comes back to life (other than to give the audience a huge scare and then an emotional release).

  3. Robert CrawfordI think I'm going to wait until November and December with a hope it's part of some sale.

    I am doing the same thing with this, and most other new UHD releases. The only exception has been titles from Lionsgate, whose UHD titles have been priced very aggressively upon release.

  4. Matt HoughHe had started fading before he was found comatose in that creek. I always assumed he really wasn't suited for Earth's atmosphere and was dying from that. But that just proves the point I was making. It's not clear what the problem is, nor is it clear why he dies (or appears to) and then comes back to life (other than to give the audience a huge scare and then an emotional release).

    I've always thought it was pretty clear that the individuals of his species were somehow nurtured by their connected heart lights, and that E.T.'s prolonged separation from his shipmates (and their heart light energy) caused the decline in his health. His miraculous "rebirth" as they approach Earth to rescue him makes this even more apparent.

  5. Matt HoughHe had started fading before he was found comatose in that creek. I always assumed he really wasn't suited for Earth's atmosphere and was dying from that. But that just proves the point I was making. It's not clear what the problem is, nor is it clear why he dies (or appears to) and then comes back to life (other than to give the audience a huge scare and then an emotional release).

    His species needs to be with others. He tries "connecting" with Elliot, which is why Elliot says he can "feel what he feels." But it's not enough, which is why they both start getting sick. It's why after E.T. is found by the creek, the kids decide to tell their mother. When they do, Elliot explains, "I think we're dying." He also says E.T. needs to go home to live.

    After the scientists are there, they discover the connection, because when E.T. dies, the say the link between the two is breaking. They get Elliot back but they lose E.T. And his miraculous resurrection is what leads Elliot to surmise, "Does this mean they're coming?" The proximity of the ship, and the communal life force of his family, is what recharges him.

  6. Chad R

    His species needs to be with others. He tries "connecting" with Elliot, which is why Elliot says he can "feel what he feels." But it's not enough, which is why they both start getting sick. It's why after E.T. is found by the creek, the kids decide to tell their mother. When they do, Elliot explains, "I think we're dying." He also says E.T. needs to go home to live.

    After the scientists are there, they discover the connection, because when E.T. dies, the say the link between the two is breaking. They get Elliot back but they lose E.T. And his miraculous resurrection is what leads Elliot to surmise, "Does this mean they're coming?" The proximity of the ship, and the communal life force of his family, is what recharges him.

    Makes perfect sense. Thanks.

  7. Albert71292Haven't seen the movie in years, might buy this. Had to look up, however, to make sure the guns were back and the walkie talkies were gone. Won't buy adulterated movies. 🙂

    Depends on whether or not you care about E.T. coughing an extra time in one scene from a 1985 reissue.

  8. noel aguirreAs a film purist HDR to me personally takes away from the film qualities of the original and only add a punched-up fake look. Not a fan.

    To each his own. I'm a film purist too, but I don't see a problem with HDR as long as it is applied correctly without being overdone.

  9. Robert CrawfordI think I'm going to wait until November and December with a hope it's part of some sale.

    The non limited edition is part of a 2 for $35 sale this week at Best Buy. I have to decide if I want to pair it with Get Out or Split.

  10. ScottJHThe non limited edition is part of a 2 for $35 sale this week at Best Buy. Now have to decide if I want to pair it with Get Out or Split.

    Thanks for this. I was going to wait, too, but Best Buy did have a 2nd UHD title as part of this offer that I wanted — King Kong. So, each for $17.50 is a great deal — especially with free shipping!

  11. ScottJHThe non limited edition is part of a 2 for $35 sale this week at Best Buy. Now have to decide if I want to pair it with Get Out or Split.

    This is a decision that you won't be able to Get Out of; that is, not without a Split.:D

  12. Day one purchase. As a matter of fact any older catalog films on UHD are day one purchases for me. I want to support the format, and show the studios with my money that there is certainly a demand for older movies on UHD BD.

  13. TinoSo ET is definitely part of the 2 for $35 at Best Buy? Just want to be sure.

    Yes, but it's not the limited 35th anniversary edition, if that matters to you. If you look at the online weekly ad, there is a link to the 2 for $35 UHD sale. Go there, and it will show you which titles are part of the sale. The only two that interested me were E.T. and King Kong. I received a shipping notice this morning for both items.

  14. Stephen_J_HIs the enclosed BD simply a repack of the original disc, or is it a remaster?

    It's from the original Blu-ray release, which was sourced from the same 4k restoration master that the UHD Blu-ray is using (with a new HDR pass).

  15. ScottJH

    Anyone else having trouble redeeming the digital code through Vudu?

    What kind of trouble? I already had the digital copy from the previous release. Too bad vudu doesnt offer a UHD version.

  16. Tino

    What kind of trouble? I already had the digital copy from the previous release. Too bad vudu doesnt offer a UHD version.

    When I try to enter the code for this and the single release of The Mummy(1999) it says "Something's not right. Re-enter your code." Tried through Vudu's website & the app. I have now tried UPHE.com/redeem & it does recognize both but on the "select retailer" screen only Fandango Now or iTunes can be chosen. So no Vudu?

  17. Production: 4.5? Really? Okay. That is why I only read the technical portions of these things 🙂

    And not one mention of who on this forum is IN the film and is the entire reason ET knows to phone home. Not a single mention. 🙂

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