E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Although RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and EMPIRE OF THE SUN are my favorite Steven Spielberg movies, I find myself rethinking that every time I sit down to watch E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL. The film has obviously received heaps of praise since its original release in 1982 and fans obviously still love it as evidenced by the theatrical re-releases and home video releases, but even with all of that praise, I still think the film is underrated when it comes to just how great it really is. Thankfully, E.T. is one of Universal’s flagship properties and is usually used to usher in a new format every 10 years or so, giving fans another reason to fall in love with the film all over again.
It’s strange to watch a movie I loved as a kid now that I’m a father, but I think E.T. can serve as a good reminder to all the 30 or 40 year-old parents out there that kids have a unique perspective on the world and their voice should be heard. In a movie filled with impressive techniques, I think Spielberg’s greatest accomplishment was his portrayal of Elliot as an intelligent, innocent child that’s trying to cling to his innocence even though he’s being thrust into a very dangerous and adult world. As a child, I wanted to be Elliot and take on the establishment that was clearly wrong, but as an adult, I found myself asking “what’s wrong with all of these adults?”
I wonder if Spielberg becoming a father influenced his decision to go back and edit E.T. several years ago. Famously, he was lambasted for his decision to digitally alter the guns into walkie-talkies, but I’m guessing as a father, it was hard for him to watch adults chase kids through a neighborhood with their guns drawn. However, what I don’t think he realized was that the adults treating Elliot and his friends as dangerous adults was part of Elliot’s journey in the film. Thankfully, that version of the film doesn’t get the 4K treatment and if you actually like that version, I suggest you hang on to your Blu-ray copy.
I realize this has been less of a review of E.T. than a reminiscent trip down memory lane, but I think there’s been so much critical analysis of the film over the last three decades that there’s not much more that can be said. Personally, I loved the film when I was a little kid and it’s one of the few films that I still love as an adult. E.T. is a special film and it’s never looked better than on this 4K release.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: If you’ve read any of my 4K reviews, you know a common thing I preface on older 4K catalog titles is that there’s only so much improvement you can get, even when a lot of care has been given to the film. But E.T. might change my mind on that because watching it on 4K felt like I was watching it for the first time. This new restoration adds so much to the film in terms of detail and color definition that it’s easy to forget this film is 35 years old this year. I was worried some of the effects would look cheap thanks to the improved detail, but that wasn’t the case. If you thought they looked fake in the theater or on Blu-ray, then there’s nothing here that will change your mind because they look about the same. I thought E.T. received a fine Blu-ray release, but a complaint I had was on the indoor night scenes and I was happy that they look much better on 4K. You can see the details in the closet as E.T. is hiding and I felt like I was watching that scene for the first time even though I had a puzzle with that very scene that I must have put together a thousand times as a kid. But this is a great looking release and I can easily say that this is worth the upgrade.
Audio: We get a nice DTS:X track that offers some subtle upgrades over the DTS track on the Blu-ray. I think most of the improvements to the disc are with John Williams’s score, which is used to absolute perfection.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
The 4K UHD does not contain any exclusive features, but it does include the original theatrical cut on Blu-ray, which is the same disc included on the anniversary edition.