Novel but slightly dull. An alien left behind from its mothership forms a bond with a young boy, Elliott, who hides it from family and government forces to try and get him home.
Beware the following will contain plot detail.
It’s well known that some things appeal to a certain demographic. Rom-coms to couples, superhero movies to kids and big monster movies to those in Asia. It’s no surprise then that film studios often have a target audience in mind, but with E.T. I would say there’s no easy generalisation to make.
Given its full title, E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, it does indeed feature just one alien and for almost the entirety of the film, we do not see any others. Left stranded by its mothership, the boy who first discovers the alien gives it a home and, to some degree, adopts it as a member of the family. With few characters, there’s more time spent fleshing them out and E.T., the name given to the alien, forges many relationships with Elliott’s (Thomas) contemporary American family. Soon E.T. is able to communicate with humans and express his wish, leading to the famous line “E.T. phone home”. Released at a time when space was the latest fascination, the government are also intent on locating E.T. for their own unexplained purposes, which means Elliott must smuggle E.T. to its escape area. Although there are iconic moments like the bicycle scene coupled with the memorable theme song, the plot could be considered as forgetful, I saw it relatively recently (not on release but over a year ago) and do not recall most of it.
Undoubtedly, there is charm to the film but any grandiose expectations due to its legacy or the fact it’s directed by Spielberg will leave you disappointed. Once a contender for best film ever, it is striking how much times have changed, as watching it now I feel it’s vastly overrated. A few aspects haven’t stood the test of time, the animatronics of E.T. are life-like but no longer impressive, however crucially, it doesn’t evoke memories of childhood anymore. To make a tenuous link, it’s like the popular Katy Perry song of the same name. A certain demographic love it, but for future generations, very few will understand why.