ET - The Extra Terrestrial 20th Anniversary Edition (U)

Review by Tim Minor

It had been a long, long time since I had seen E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial and the prospect of celebrating the little waddling guy's 20th birthday filled me with mixed emotions. Surely the film couldn't be bettered?

If you're concerned that the special effects supremos at Industrial Light+Magic are going to ruin a classic, then fear not. "My first reaction was the one that I think a lot of people have when they hear they're going to redo parts of ET - well, why?" remarks Bill George, who directed the re-mastering of this epic film and who also supervised the special effects for Harry Potter.

It must have been at least 10 years since I last saw ET, probably one Christmas, stuffed full with turkey, wine and good cheer and so my memories of it weren't pin sharp. It was therefore a struggle to find any of the new and enhanced scenes at all.

I did notice a few however. The space ship is shinier and has more lights, the regenerating plant is more convincing (if a regenerating pot plant can ever be convincing?) and when E.T. gets chased at the beginning of the film you get the impression he's actually running rather than being pulled along on a track.

But fear not, that flight across the moon in Elliott's BMX is still as exciting as ever and will probably spawn another thousand BMX-ing wannabes. Not that I noticed, but this scene was also enhanced. Now you get to see Elliott's cape waving in the breeze rather than hanging rigidly down his back!

And it's exactly this sort of effect the director wanted; "Our goal was that when people went to see this film, they would not realise that it had been messed with."

Later in the film we are treated to an entirely new scene set in the bathroom which was intended to explore more deeply the bonding that that occurs between Elliot and the extra terrestrial. It was an 'opportunity for E.T. and Elliot to get to know each other', noted Spielberg.

Much comment has been generated around some other changes to E.T. Certain dialogue was removed and guns were replaced with walkie-talkies. Between the initial release of the film and its 20th birthday, Spielberg had become a father and had developed a new way of looking at things.

"I began to feel that the guns were probably an inappropriate thing to have in the movie, and felt that the 20th anniversary version was a great opportunity to get rid of them." Similarly, Elliott's mother no longer denies him going out looking like a "terrorist" at Halloween but now instructs him not to go out looking like a "hippie".

If the aim of Bill and his team was to enable you to sit back and to laugh and to cry, just as you did 20 years ago, without being distracted by their visual magic, then to my mind they succeeded in spades. If you haven't seen E.T. yet (and I understand there are people who haven't) it's your duty to go and see this film. If you loved it the first time around, you'll love it all over again. Just be careful on that new BMX!