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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 10/17/02

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition (widescreen) - 1982/2002 (2002) - Universal Home Video

review by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: 2-Disc Limited Collector's Edition (widescreen) Film Rating: A

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): A/B-

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A/A+

Specs and Features

Disc One: 2002 20th Anniversary Edition
120 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, custom 2-disc gatefold packaging, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:03:19 in chapter 12), introduction by Steven Spielberg, Live at the Shrine!: John Williams and the World Premiere of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial the 20th Anniversary featurette, full-length audio of John Williams performing the score live at the 2002 premiere (DD 5.1), planetary facts with commentary provided by E.T., animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX & DTS 6.1 ES) and French (DD 5.1 EX), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Disc Two: Original 1982 Theatrical Edition
115 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:12:38 in chapter 14), Spotlight on Location: The Making of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial 20th Anniversary featurette, The Reunion featurette, production design galleries, publicity photographs and marketing galleries, 2002 re-release theatrical trailer, cast and filmmakers bios and filmographies, production notes, Back to the Future Trilogy DVD promo, 1982 Special Olympics commercial, Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption commercial, promo for Universal Studios Theme Parks, DVD-ROM features (with Universal Studios Total Axess), animated menu screens with sound, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 EX & DTS 5.1 ES), Spanish and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Ah... E.T.. Who in the world hasn't seen it and isn't in absolute gaga love with the film? I saw it for the first time on my 11th birthday. At that point, I already ate Reese's Pieces religiously, had the light up extended finger and a stuffed doll that looked nothing like the E.T. in the film. So without even seeing the movie, I was in love. And who could blame me? E.T. is the most adorable alien ever created. Short, with a long neck, light up heart and the biggest eyes this side on an anime vixen. E.T. holds a very special place in my heart and I'm sure 7/8ths of the rest of the world's too.

Young Elliott lives with his newly separated mom and his older brother and younger sister in a rolling suburb in California. One night, while getting a pizza from the delivery guy, he happens upon something quite curious in his garage... something that prompts him to go out again later that night to try and find out what it is exactly. What he discovers is a cute little alien who has been left behind by his friends when government investigators got too close to their ship. Now, Elliott has to try and help the little guy get home, while hiding him from his mom and dealing with an odd physical connection the alien has made with him - one that makes them feel each other's emotions, as well as health and physical states.

E.T. is fun for the whole family. And thanks to the new digital world we live in, it's now even more so. Spielberg has gone back and not only CGI'ed E.T. (fixing some stiff effects from 1982), but also removed all of the guns from the hands of the government agents and replaced them with walkie-talkies. Is it obvious? No. It's actually a pretty clean edit, and in a few years no one will even notice or even care. Hell, I imagine if no one made that big a deal about it people probably wouldn't have even noticed. Spielberg also relooped a voice cue when mom says her older son couldn't go out as a "terrorist" and replaced it with "hippie"... which is really the same thing if you think about it.* But who says a film god doesn't also givith when he taketh away? Thanks to the same digital tinkering that helped Senor Spielbergo fix some moral issues he had with the film, he's also added back a huge scene of E.T. taking a bath that didn't quite work with the original animatronic puppet. It's a cute scene and fits in with the film quite nicely.

I don't have a problem with Spielberg going back and fiddling with his masterpiece. It's his film, first of all. And second, mostly what he did makes the film look better for a more modern and savvy audience. But for those of you concerned that one of your favorite films is lost to the ravages of time, fear not. The original theatrical version is alive and well on Disc Two of this set. Everything you remember, shotguns and terrorists alike, can be found in all of its remastered digital glory.

Both versions of this film look remarkable. Honestly. I wasn't expecting E.T. to look as good as it does on DVD. Blacks are deep and hard, colors are bright and shiny and there's not a moment of edge enhancement to be found. Not only that, but foggy nights represent as well as the sun drenched days. It's really a joy to see a film I so fondly remember looking as good as it does here on DVD. Luscious is the best word I can think of. The sound is also pretty remarkable. Both versions feature DTS and Dolby Digital tracks that really sound great. The digital E.T. sequences are slightly "off" based on the fact that the sound seems pulled from the location sounds made during the original shoots (so it has a sort of dubbed feeling). But aside from that, the soundfields are playful and wide, with lots of surround activity and incredible replication of John Williams' score.

The extras on this set, although not as heavy as originally announced, are pretty cool. Because Spielberg decided late in the game that he wanted the original 1982 version included on BOTH the 2-disc and 3-disc sets, some things had to fall off. Gone from the 2-disc set is the 50-minute documentary chronicling the making of the film. That sucks, but at least we have the 1982 movie, right? In its place, there is a standard Spotlight on Location focusing on the 20th anniversary edition and the digital work that went into it. Buyers be warned though, the back of the disc still lists the 50-minute documentary in the extras portion, and the spec grid doesn't list the original 1982 theatrical release as part of the set. But believe me, it's there.

Disc One features a very nice featurette about the event of a lifetime: John Williams performing the score of the film while the premiere audience watched the film. Although not as cool as actually sitting in the audience, Laurent Bouzereau brings the experience to us in a very appealing form. Also on Disc One is that entire performance as an isolated Dolby Digital track, which is quite cool, and after a while you'll forget the track was recorded live. Oh... and for the kids there's a very lame look at our solar system through the eyes and voice of E.T., which gets old fast. E.T. sounds like one of those guys who can recite the entire alphabet through one everlasting burp.

Disc Two, along with the Spotlight featurette, holds a very cute family reunion of sorts with all the major players in front of and behind the camera. It's fluffy and full of major backslapping, but what family reunion isn't? There's also plenty of other fluff: very small and uninspiring galleries of production design, publicity photographs and marketing materials, the 2002 re-release theatrical trailer, a Back to the Future Trilogy DVD promo, cast and filmmakers bios and filmographies, production notes, an archival 1982 Special Olympics commercial (featuring E.T.), a new Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption commercial, a promo for Universal Studios Theme Parks and what could turn out to be cooler than anything (but we'll have to wait and see)... a DVD-ROM feature called Universal Studios Total Axess. This promises to hold weekly updated original material like storyboards, deleted scenes and additional behind-the-scenes footage. Could be neat, could suck. It would have been nice to have the deleted scenes on disc, but what can you do?

E.T. is on DVD and it's pretty darn cool. If all you want is both versions of the film, this 2-disc set is the way to go. If you want everything you can get your greedy paws on, then the 3-discer is still a good bet, because it'll have the newly produced by Laurent Bouzereau documentary (which promises to be very nice and is sorely missing from this set). But then again, we get the 1982 version of the film so who has a right to complain? Not me, anyway.

Todd Doogan
[email protected]

* Eric Cartman et al, South Park, Episode 609 a.k.a. Free Hat
(click here for specific quote in wav format)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
(2-Disc Special Collector's Edition - Widescreen)

E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial
(3-Disc Ultimate Gift Set)

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