Starring: Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Peter Coyote
Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Time: 114 mins
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is an American film about an alien who, after being left behind on Earth, befriends a young boy who helps him to get back home.
This is a wonderfully imaginative family adventure, with both an exciting fantasy story as well as a very touching emotional subplot helped by excellent performances, amazing special effects and Steven Spielberg’s superb directing.
Of course, E.T. is one of the most beloved films of all time, and there’s good reason for it. We all love the sci-fi genre, but what this does so well is combine the cosy feeling of family adventure with aliens and space folklore to make a thoroughly enjoyable film from start to finish.
I felt that Spielberg’s other most famous sci-fi movie, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, despite being an excellent presentation of UFOs and aliens coming to Earth, often felt a little dry. However, E.T. manages to right that wrong, and provide emotion alongside the excitement of the sci-fi story.
It’s so cool to see E.T. come to Earth, the authorities’ pursuit of the illusive alien, and the kids’ bikes flying in front of the moon, but what I think really sets this film apart from so many other sci-fi movies is that it provides powerful emotion. On the one hand, E.T. is cute, and so the kids’ efforts to help him get back home give you a really warm felling inside, which is just so wonderful, but on the other hand, some of the more intense sequences in this film do still provide more excitement and drama than just pleasure, so it’s not an easy ride all the way home.
We also have to talk about the special effects in this movie. Mainly, it’s the design of E.T. that’s the most roaring success. It’s a practical animatronic/costume, and you can see that so easily on screen. It doesn’t look outdated at all, but its tangible presence in every scene, and therefore closer relationship with the human characters, is one of the main reasons that practical effects can make such a difference, whereas nowadays, E.T. would be a cold, lifeless CGI creation, not the adorable little thing he is here.
The performances are fantastic too. Henry Thomas, who was only 11 at the time, is fantastic as Elliott, the young boy who grows so close to E.T. He’s not only not annoying (which is a massive achievement for a child actor in a major role), but he’s got a great sense of humour, and also conveys his character’s clear emotional connection to E.T. really well, which is hugely impressive to see.
Overall, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial is a wonderful film, and a rightly beloved family classic, featuring a brilliant story, fantastic special effects and really strong emotion throughout, so that’s why it gets a 7.9 from me.