It's '80s Movie Month! "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" Review

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

It's '80s Movie Month! "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" Review

Rating: PG (Language, mild thematic elements)
Length: 115 minutes
Release Date: June 11, 1982
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Genre: Adventure/Family/Fantasy

"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" is a beloved family film that has worked its way into the hearts and onto the DVD shelves of millions of movie lovers around the world. The film begins with a benevolent group of otherworldly visitors making a midnight excursion to study the foliage of planet Earth. When an alien-hunting, human task force appears, the group scatters, leaving an innocent straggler behind. As his companions flee the planet, the young extra-terrestrial is left on his own, dazed and confused. The little alien knows very little about this foreign planet and would certainly meet an unseemly end at the hands of the task force if not for being saved by a human boy named Elliot. Elliot discovers the alien searching for food in his shed and quickly moves him into his room. The film progresses as a heartwarming tale of a boy and his alien, a friendship that forms against all odds and bounds of reason. As E.T. adapts to his strange new environment, he gets to know Elliot's brother and sister, Michael and Gertie. The children keep Elliot's extra-terrestrial secret, though they remain understandably wary of him for quite a while. As the human task force combs the area for signs of the alien that was left behind, Elliot must find new and creative ways to conceal the identity of his new friend. E.T. learns about Earth from a firsthand source and quickly adapts to live on the blue planet. As Elliot and E.T. grow more attached to one another, they develop a friendship that could bond their worlds or threaten their very existence.

Over the course of the film, E.T. gradually learns to communicate with Elliott and his siblings. As he learns broken English, he begins to communicate his severe homesickness and his desire to return home to the planet he loves. While he treasures the friends he has made on his new planet, Earth is a far cry from home, and all the little alien wants to do is go back. To make matters worse, as the task force gets closer to discovering the truth and finding out the alien's location, E.T. begins to show signs of a mysterious illness. Since E.T. has forged a strong emotional and psychic bond with Elliott, he begins to grow ill as well, forcing the family to find a way to help their friend get home before it's too late for both of them.

While "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" initially seemed like another children's film, audiences quickly realized how revolutionary the film was to the science fiction genre. Filmed in 1982, the film featured some of the most innovative special effects of its time, forever changing the way filmmakers presented visitors from another world. Rather than taking the easy way out and making a film about hostile invaders, director Steven Spielberg chose to revolutionize the alien movie genre and create a film about humanity that transcends the bounds of earth. Spielberg created a truly endearing and sympathetic figure in the innocent E.T. character, challenging audiences to see visitors from another planet in a whole new light.

"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" was the film that gained significant, critical recognition for Spielberg, catapulting his career from that of a relative unknown to one of the most famous directors in recent American history. Although this film is a classic, its themes will resonate with modern audiences just as well as they resonated with audiences when it first premiered. "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" may be a science fiction film, but it is a heartwarming family tale at its core. The friendship between E.T. and Elliot is one of the most iconic relationships in film history. Elliot's dedication and willingness to accept his strange new friend will touch the hearts of even the most cynical viewers, making this film a must-see no matter which film genre you usually prefer.

While it may be tempting to overlook the special effects in the film in light of modern CGI techniques, "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" was actually the forerunner of modern movie graphics. Spielberg created a character like none other with the use of chicken wire and clay. He managed to create a realistic alien from materials that other directors would have seen as useless, and the acting in the film injected life into the remarkable puppet. Featuring some of the most iconic scenes in movie history, "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" is one of those films that everyone should see at least once, if only to better understand all the ways in which it shaped the movie industry.

Rating: 4 out of 5