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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.85:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL 55:19)
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
  • Dutch: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround EX
  • English: DTS 6.1 Surround ES
  Subtitles
    Dutch, English - Hearing Impaired
  Extras
  • 2 Teaser trailer - UbiSoft E.T. Games, Back To The Future Box Set
  • Theatrical trailer - 20th Anniversary Theatrical Trailer
  • Featurette - Space Exploration, Live at the Shrine, The Music of E.T.,
  • Isolated music score - Recorded Live at the 20th Anniversary Premiere
  • 6 Photo gallery
  • Animated menus
  • Digitally remastered
  • DVD-ROM features
  • Interviews - E.T. Reunion
  • Awards/Nominations - Evolution and Creation of E.T.
  • Interactive game
  • DTS trailer

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: SE

Universal/Universal . R4 . COLOR . 115 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

In 1982, Steven Spielberg released a masterpiece that took the world by storm. E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial captured the hearts and imaginations of everyone around the world, both young and old alike. In 2002, twenty years later, Spielberg re-released his film back into cinemas for a strictly limited time. Americans loved the re-release, and a new generation were bedazzled by Spielberg’s gem. Australian audiences didn’t take so kindly to the re-release, with the film flopping big time at the Australian Box Office. Spielberg’s film was unable to recapture the Australian public’s imagination.

Now, Spielberg’s masterpiece is on DVD for a strictly limited time (only until December 31st, 2002) with this two disc Special Edition. If you are after the Region 4 version of the “Ultimate Gift Set” from Region 1, check out HMV.com.au as they exclusively have the three disc set including the original 1982 version on the third disc. While a whisker’s kiss short of Gold Status, this two disc Special Edition simply is a must have for your DVD collection.

This film was Drew Barrymore’s second major film, and showcased her as a cute, adorable five year old. Henry Thomas later went on to make films such as All the Pretty Horses and Legends of the Fall, and Robert MacNaughton went on to do three TV shows and one movie, and then left the industry. Everyone should know where Spielberg went from here, directing and producing a list longer than the distance between Earth and E.T.'s home planet, and John Williams too went on composing more great scores for films, many of which Spielberg directed including Saving Private Ryan and Jurassic Park.

This remastered 20th Anniversary version of the film has only one or two extra scenes added, sound remastered and visual effects reworked to enable sequences that were taxing and expensive to create without the use of a computer. God knows why people would want the original film as well as this remastered edition as nothing has changed apart from the odd one or two added scenes. Overall, the remastered edition adds onto the original rather than detracting, as some extended editions do.

"E ... T ... phone ... home!"

The story of E.T. – The Extra Terrestrial is easy to follow. Elliot (Thomas), Michael (MacNaughton) and Gertie (Barrymore) are siblings with Dee Wallace as their mother whose husband had recently left. When pizza is ordered at a game of poker, Elliot runs to fetch it from the delivery guy and is about to enter the house when he hears something in the shed. He goes to investigate, but is scared by this noisy thing that throws back baseballs and runs inside. No one believes that he saw an alien – “it’s a coyote” they say, and it’s left at that. Elliot, though, finds E.T., a cute yet ugly alien (there's no better way to describe him), brings him inside and hides him in his bedroom. Elliot, Gertie and Michael soon learn of E.T.’s intelligence and learn about his home, and why he is left on Earth. As it turns out, he was left behind after visiting Earth with his fellow extra terrestrials, and then found his way into the backyard of this suburban family. However, when the scientists find out about this alien, they want him for testing so it comes down to Elliot and E.T. to “phone home” and get a E.T. outta there.

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in a widescreen aspect of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.

On the Philips 736K DVD Player and Philips LX3000D Digital Home Cinema, when listening to the DTS track, some major picture problems occur, most notably during the Universal tag where the screen splits in two horizontally and cuts for the opening of the tag. The tag looks fine when listening to any other audio track, and also looks fine when watching through a DVD-ROM drive. This problem is known for these two players only (so far).

For a 20 year old film, this looks great. After seeing the re-release in the cinemas in 2002 (some of us weren’t even born in 1982!) and the superb remastering that had been done to restore the 1982 print to new 35mm prints, this video transfer looks just as good as it did on the ‘big screen.’ The odd scene or two (notably during the finale) that suffered heavily (really, really heavily) from grain in the theatres has been cleaned up for the DVD release.

Colours look superb with a rich, bold ’80s appearance to them. There are no colour bleeding problems at all. Blacks are bold, solid, deep and most importantly black. There is no low level noise, and shadows have been mastered with an exquisite precision. Misty surroundings, as common as they are in this town, look great, with no MPEG artefacts at all. MPEG artefacts are not a problem throughout the film, nor are film artefacts or film grain. The restoration process has been utilised with so much care that the efforts can easily be seen with this transfer.

The biggest problem, however, is aliasing and shimmering. After watching the gloriously coloured Universal logo and the purple (very ’80s) credits, we pan down from a dark starry sky which starts out fine but quickly resorts to a shaking and shimmering pan. These sorts of problems occur on the horizontal and vertical panning shots. They are quite irritating and disrupting to the flow. This isn’t a player problem, as the same effect can be seen on two different DVD-ROM drives and two other DVD players.

Being a dual layered disc, the layer change occurs at 55:19 and is reasonably well placed. There is a slight hang, but it is handled very well. Subtitles in Dutch and English for the Hearing Impaired have been included on this disc and are very accurate.

  Audio
Contract

We are graced with four audio tracks on this disc, three of which are suitable for English audiences. We have a Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track (requiring manual implementation via your amplifier/receiver), a DTS 5.1 ES track, a Dolby Digital 5.1 20th Anniversary Audio track and a Dutch Dolby Digital 5.1 EX track (again, requiring manual implementation).

The major difference between the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks is that the DTS track has a lower volume, yet does host a slightly higher clarity. But as it sometimes is with Dolby Digital and DTS comparisons, six of one and half a dozen of the other...

The sound is located primarily in the front half of the soundstage. The centre channel is used heavily for dialogue, and the front left and right channels for sound effects, for both mono and stereo effects.

Surround channels are used effectively, but not efficiently, with very limited action. They are mainly used to carry the score, as well as the odd one or two effects. The 'Flying Theme' really lifts off though through a rich 5.1 workout. The same applies for the subwoofer, which doesn’t really get a chance to rock your lounge room, yet adequately supports the lower end of the score.

Right from the word go your senses are put into a sensory overload (well those for sight and sound anyway), with the beautiful Universal theme that blends into the ‘Flying Theme’ from E.T. The Universal tag has never sounded so good, not even in the cinemas. The combination of the word Universal flying around the world and the bold score makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

The score, composed by John Williams, has one of the most well-known themes – the ‘Flying Theme.’ Anyone want to sing it? Didn’t think so. But anyway, the score has been remastered with great precision, yet at times the sound does appear slightly tinny and metallic. No biggie though, it still sounds a darned sight better than poor tracking on a magnetic VHS tape.

  Extras
Contract

When E.T. left 20 years ago, he left with us a mountain of extra features waiting for us to find. It took Steven Spielberg 20 years to find them from the forest... Oh, no wait, that’s just him being annoying and precious with his DVD releases. Anyway, the extra features span both discs, with only two small features included on the first disc.

Menus are 16x9 enhanced with a creative animation sequence and glorious background audio. Menus are clear, consistent and easy to navigate.

On Disc 1, when you select the 'Special Features' page you are shown a 1:58 introduction by Steven Spielberg where he talks about the new additions to the 20th Anniversary edition.

The 20th Anniversary Audio track is a Dolby Digital 5.1 track that was recorded live at the 20th Anniversary World Premiere. This track serves brilliantly as a music-only affair, featuring very little crowd noise. But hearing the audience applaud during the opening credits is enough to send chills down your spine. Maybe it is just the sentimental monster breaking free... Anyway, the score is in perfect synch with the film, and features quiet dialogue. A pure music-only track would have been nice, but this is still superb.

Disc 2 hosts the remaining extra features found in the forest.

The Evolution and Creation of E.T. is a 50-minute documentary that mainly looks at the creation of E.T. back in 1982, as well as scene comparisons between '82 and '02 and casting procedures. It is presented in a full frame aspect of 1.33:1, yet film footage used is framed in the aspect of 1.85:1.

The E.T. Reunion featurette runs for nearly 18 minutes, and features Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy, Henry Thomas, Drew Barrymore, Robert MacNaughton, Dee Wallace and Peter Coyote talking about the film.

The Music of E.T. is a ten minute discussion with Williams and Spielberg about scoring the film. This is an interesting addition, as the score is rarely talked about in such detail on discs. John Williams talks about his work, and thematic elements used articulately throughout the film, with Spielberg putting his (mandatory) two cents in here and there.

Live at the Shrine! The 20th Anniversary Premiere is a 17 minute look behind the scenes at the preparations for the live orchestra at the World Premiere of the film in early 2002. This featurette also shows actual footage from the event.

The Gallery hosts designs, photographs and marketing, and each “gallery” runs in its own separate title. Each clip is 16x9 enhanced, and features no audio. The numbers in brackets refer to the duration of each clip. The Galleries are: E.T. Designs (7:00), (more) E.T. Designs (1:41), Spaceship Designs (1:20), Designs (1:31), Production Photographs (23:10) and Marketing E.T. (10:19).

Space Exploration is a tour around the solar system with E.T. as your guide. Sure, wow, this sounds like fun, but after only ten seconds you’ll wanna slam down the remote and squeeze the ‘Stop’ button as hard as you can. The voice is slow, annoying and sounds terrible (i.e. a cheap rip-off of E.T.). Yet the information is reliable and reasonably in-depth for younger audiences. Science teachers beware – this may be appearing on students’ resource lists from now on.

The Theatrical Trailer runs for 2:05, and sadly only has Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. After watching the trailer numerous times in Dobly SR in the cinema where it sounded incredible, this trailer sounds flat and unappealing, with the "digitally remastered sound" leaving little impact compared to the SR version. This trailer is for the 20th Anniversary release, rather than being the original 1982 theatrical trailer.

Other Advertising Trailers have been included for the E.T. games on Playstation, Gameboy Advance and PC (a running time of 1:30) and also for the Back to the Future Box Set on DVD (a running time of 1:34)

The DVD-ROM features are really cute, including your very own E.T. who lives with you on your desktop. The features include wallpapers, printouts (including colouring-in sheets, doorhangers and an E.T. mask), E.T. Trivia game, Save E.T. game, Free the Frogs game, Dress Up E.T. game and the cutest, sweetest thing – the E.T. ScreenMate. This is a little PC application which allows you to have your own E.T. running around your task bar down the bottom of the screen. You can interactively play with him, or just let him wander. He even talks to you... now for real friends...

  Overall  
Contract

This disc is a must have for all DVD-enthusiasts. The video is slightly flawed, and the audio is great, with a heap of extras that E.T. left behind in the forest where they were filming the movie (*someone whispers in Martin’s ear*) Oh, it’s just a puppet... At least there is still the ScreenMate who won’t leave... but what does this ‘X’ button do..?


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      And I quote...
    "...a heap of extras that E.T. left behind in the forest where they were filming the movie (*someone whispers in Martin’s ear*) Oh, it’s just a puppet... "
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • DVD Rom:
          Compaq SD 616ST
    • MPEG Card:
          Geforce2 32MB AGP
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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