Surely you know the story: cute little alien is left behind by his fellows, and befriends youngElliott (Henry Thomas). Elliott and his siblings do their best to help E.T. phone home and getrescued, but meanwhile the government is also on the hunt for the hapless fellow. The re-releasefeatures improved special effects, a couple of restored scenes, and miscellaneous other fixingup. Granted, the film does look slicker (though not all the new CGI elements are entirelynecessary,…in my opinion). More problematic is the replacing of the government agents’ gunswith walkie-talkies. That’s not a technical improvement. That changes the meaning of thescene.
The sound on both versions is terrific. Though the dialogue has a little bit of distortion attimes, allowances for the 20-year-old soundtrack must be made. The music sounds trulyawesome, and John Williams’ score is given pride of place in the mix. That said, the effects areimpressive in their own right, and the environmental effect belies the age of the track.
The format is 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The contrasts are very nice, as are the coloursand the blacks. The night scenes are very impressive, with no edge enhancement problems at all,and the contrasts here (especially on the re-release version) are spectacular.
A bit of a mix here. On the one hand, there is no commentary, and the documentary featuresare all of the featurette variety (none are longer than 25 minutes), and there is a considerableamount of overlap. The menu has scored and animated introduction, transitions and main page,and the secondary pages are scored. The one big flaw with the menu is a problem on Disc 1: youhave to wade through Spielberg’s introduction to the re-release every time you want to checkout the special features.
As to the features themselves, Disc 1 has a featurette on the 20thanniversary premiere, which featured a live performance of the soundtrack. The really neat extrais next: you can watch the film while listening to a recording of that live performance, and theeffect is quite impressive. “Space Exploration” is an extra for the very young: a basic guide tothe solar system narrated by E.T.
Disc 2 (the original version of the film) has a retrospectiveMaking-of (which also goes into the remastering details at some length); “The E.T. Reunion”(wherein cast and crew reminisce and gosh, isn’t everyone full of positive feelings); trailers forE.T. and the Back to the Future trilogy; a multi-category still gallery of designs, photographs andmarketing; cast and crew biographies and filmographies; production notes (largely looking at theorigins of the film); DVD-ROM features; and “Special Announcements,” which is a group of adsranging form the vintage (E.T. pumping the Special Olympics) to the current (Universal Studiosand so forth). Finally, the attractive packaging comes with liner notes.
I was very much of two minds about some of the tampering that went into the re-release, sothe DVD release combines, I think, the best of both worlds. Good call.
Special Features List
- Introduction by Steven Spielberg
- 20th Anniversay Premiere Featurette
- Live Performance of Soundtrack
- “Space Exploration”
- Making-Of Featurette
- “The E.T. Reunion” Featurette
- Still Gallery
- Production Notes
- Cast and Crew Filmographies
- DVD-ROM Features
- Liner Notes
- Special Announcements