E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: The 20th Anniversary

Wow. Has it really been twenty years since E.T. came out in theaters? As hard as it is to believe, it's true, and to commemorate the anniversary, Steven Spielberg (A.I., Saving Private Ryan) is re-releasing his modern classic, with some extras added in and a couple things changed. The overall test is whether E.T. is still relevant for today's audiences. Thankfully, aside from outdated hairstyles, it still resounds as loudly as ever. The film is still as moving and emotional as it was when originally released, and not it has the benefit of nostalgia; people can look back on this as one of the experiences they had at the movies when they were younger. At its heart, E.T. is a simple story about a boy and his friend, and about the pain of alienation and growing up. People are still making movies about these themes today, just not as good.

The story is familiar. Elliot (Henry Thomas, All The Pretty Horses, Fever) finds E.T. in his backyard, and begins to bond with him. He lives with his sister Gertie (Drew Barrymore, Riding in Cars with Boys, Freddy Got Fingered), brother Michael (Robert McNaughton, Visitors, A Place to Call Home) and mother Mary (Dee Wallace, She's No Angel, Land of Canaan). Eventually, Henry's siblings warm to E.T. as he also begins trying to contact his kind. They left him here by accident, and he is trying to get home. Scientists including Keys (Peter Coyote, A Walk to Remember, Erin Brockovich) also wants to find E.T., but more to study him. The friendship between E.T. and Elliot is the heart of the movie. It radiates a sense of innocence and wonder that makes E.T. akin to a modern fairy tale.

The changes are what this review will focus on. Special effects get more elaborate, and watching older movies is sometimes painful. To resolve this, Spielberg added some subtle things in, like rustling leaves, displaced dirt, and fog. This definitely makes some of the scenes, particularly the flying ones, look more up-to-date. The new material in the film includes a scene that the beginning with E.T. evading some pursuers. This in an E.T. unlike what audiences saw before, running quickly through the brush. There is also another scene with Elliot and E.T. in the bathroom, and E.T.'s bad experience with a can of soda. Spielberg also digitally remastered the Academy Award winning score by John Williams, and added other enhanced effects, but left the bulk of the movie intact. There are two more controversial changes; digitally altering guns into walkie-talkies on some policemen and bringing in Wallace (now Wallace -Stone) to change the word "terrorist" to "hippie" in describing Michael's Halloween costume. Aside from these last two, the important thing to remember is that Spielberg kept the spirit of the movie intact, and the spirit of this movie is what made it so special.

Haro Rates It: Really Good.
2 hours, Rated PG for language and mild thematic elements.

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