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Premiere of ET special edition Review! Pssst... they're thinking of doing this with RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK...

Hey folks, Harry here... I am not jazzed at all to see this new edition of E.T. - I'm just glad that they are going to include the non-fiddled with edition of the film in the upcoming DVD. It is nice to see that they decided not to kill Penis Breath as was originally reported. The Terroris/Hippie line change annoys me. The CG - lips thing will be an odd sensation to watch in the theaters... Personally the number one reason I'll see this edition in theaters is to hear John Williams' score digitally remastered. That score is amazing and I have no doubt it will sound like a dream in this version. The gun changes just... argh.. well, concentrate on the score. That's what I'm going to hear.

Hi, Harry.

Tonight just south of the Medals Plaza in Salt Lake City, Utah, Universal premiered the 20th Anniversary Special Edition of Spielberg's classic, E.T. The Extraterrestrial at Abravenel Hall, a place usually reserved for operas and symphonies. It was being shown as part of the artsy Olympic Festival thingy.

King and Queen of the producer world, Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy, introduced the screening, saying that we were the first audience in the world to see the completed version of the film. The audience was really riled up and applauded them after almost every sentence. Kathleen talked about the souped-up special effects and hoped that "like all good plastic surgery, we hope you don't notice the changes."

I've been a die-hard E.T. fan for years and years now. It's one of my favorite movies of all time. There were a lot of children in the audience and I was curious to see how they would react to a 20 year old movie.

The print was absolutely beautiful. Very clean, very clear. The digitally remastered score was incredible. In my humble opinion, John Williams best work EVER. There were only two new scenes that I noticed. One involves Elliot giving E.T. a guided tour of the bathroom. While Elliot talks to his mom on the phone, we see E.T. climbing into the bathtub in the background. His stubby little legs kicking up in the air was a real hoot. The other new scene was really short. Dee Wallace drives around Halloween night looking for her missing children. Nothing special.

As for the CGI, the digital touch-ups they did to E.T. were absolutely seamless and didn't call too much attention to themselves. When the scientists are chasing him through the woods in the beginning, instead of plowing through the brush in a straight-line, E.T. kind of runs with a little hop. His mouth is now animated to match the words he's saying. All very well done. I applaud the wizards at ILM. They didn't muck this one up.

And finally, what everyone's been waiting for, Spielberg made a wise, wise decision and kept "Penis Breath". I was holding my breath for that one after I heard he was going to remove it. They did change the line, "I will not let you go as a terrorist!" to "I will not let you go as a hippy!" Very small change, I understand why they did it.

During the movie, I watched how the children in the audience reacted to it. They all sat attentively, absolutely absorbed by what was happening on the screen. No crying babies, no restless tots. When E.T. dies I even heard some concerned children saying to their parents, "He can't be dead! He can't!" Spielberg has truly made a film that stands the test of time. The kids loved it just as much as I did the first time I saw it so many years ago.

E.T. is a classic and the new special edition is bigger and better. I loved it in everyway possible. When E.T. and Elliot flew past the moon, I almost shed a tear. It was an incredible experience to see it on the big screen again. This is Wilco4321, signing out from Salt Lake.

Here's the next look....

Hey Harry,

We don't know if you had anybody covering this, but we thought we'd send our review.

We had the opportunity of attending the special "Olympic Arts Festival" screening of the 20th Anniversary Edition of "E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial," in Salt Lake City. The screening was held in conjunction with the Winter Olympics, and, according to producer Kathleen Kennedy, who was in attendance (along with her husband and partner, Frank Marshall), was the first time the new version has been seen by an audience. The screening took place at Maurice Abravanel Hall, home of the Utah Symphony.

A year ago, when we first got wind of Spielberg’s plans to do a "Special Edition" re-release of "E.T.", our reaction was a mixture of excitement and dread. To understand our point of view, you have to realize that we are rabid Spielberg fans. His films are the reason we are the kind of people who waste countless hours on this sort of internet site today. To us, Spielberg IS film: it’s as simple as that. So, the opportunity to see one of his greatest masterpieces again on the big screen was a thrilling prospect. On the other hand, "Special Editions" have been somewhat problematic in the past. While we have a certain fondness for the "Star Wars Trilogy Special Editions," the razzle-dazzle overkill of the updated effects and "new surprises" actually sometimes take away from the movie. They distract, rather than enhance. The thought of "E.T." being tampered with in any way was disheartening. Why mess with perfection?

Nevertheless, when the Olympic screening was announced, we of course jumped at the chance to attend. After all, if we’re going to live in Utah and deal with the traffic, crowds, and bigoted and uneducated anti-Mormon protestors, we might as well get something out of this whole thing. Of course, when Spielberg and John Williams showed up at the opening ceremony, it gave us hope that they might actually attend the screening themselves. Unfortunately, this was not to be. Kennedy announced that Spielberg "really wanted to be there," but could not attend because he is currently shooting "Catch Me If You Can" in L.A. As disappointing as that was, hey, Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall were still there. Producers of "E.T.", "Raiders of the Lost Ark", "Schindler’s List", "Empire of the Sun", "The Color Purple," etc. And they couldn’t have been friendlier and more approachable (more about that later). Kennedy and Marshall provided a brief introduction to the film. Marshall thanked the people of Utah for the Olympic experience, and said he believed this would be remembered as "the greatest winter games ever."(we haven’t really followed it, so we’ll have to take his word on that one.). Kennedy asked the audience "not to do the math" of figuring out how old a 20th anniversary edition made her. She also explained that we were the first audience to see the "new movie," and that "E.T." had been "given a face lift." She added "I hope you won’t notice too much, like with any good plastic surgery."

So did they succeed on that level? Well . . . yes and no. You certainly do notice that "E.T." has been CGI enhanced, from the first moment when he has been chased by Peter Coyote and company, and he looks out over the city scape, his chest now heaving as he struggles to catch his breath, to the first moment when he and Elliott come face to face, to the most noticeable example, a newly restored bathtub sequence. However, these new effects are added with a subtlety and restraint that George Lucas could learn from; this is a restoration with a few tweaks, not a testing board for new FX technology. And throughout most of the film, Carlo Rambaldi’s amazing work is allowed to stand on it’s own. This time, the effects truly do enhance, and never distract. The bathtub scene is delightful (Marshall explained to us afterward that it had been cut the first time around because the effects had not looked very good.). There is also a very amusing new sequence with Dee Wallace picking up Michael and Gertie after trick or treating, that features young Barrymore at her cutest and most charismatic.

The one somewhat questionable change is the one which has already been well documented: the substitution of the word "hippy" for "terrorist" in reference to Michael’s Halloween costume. Given the current national climate, this was certainly understandable, and no one can doubt Spielberg’s motivations for the change. But at the same time, the assertion that Michael "won’t make it four blocks dressed like that" doesn’t make a lot of sense. And of course, it was a funny line, and it’s sad to see it go. But it’s a difficult situation, and it’s not surprising to see post-"Schindler" Spielberg err on the side of sensitivity. As for the removal of the guns in the flying sequence, it is seamlessly done. If you’re not looking for it, you won’t notice it. And you will be far too caught up in the film to look for it.

So, is "E.T." better for the changes? Well, maybe not. To a lot of us, it was flawless to begin with. But the new editions do add to the audience’s enjoyment of the film. John Williams’ re-mastered score alone would have justified the new edition. And the experience is as overwhelming and mesmerizing as it was in ‘82. You can still hear the audience hyperventilating in the second half of the film, whether it’s the kids who are seeing it for the first time, or the adults who are seeing it for the 100th time. "E.T." still has the audience completely under it’s spell, and may well be the "can’t-miss’ film going experience of 2002. The audience erupted in applause several times throughout the screening, and as the film ended the roar of approval made it clear that the "Special Edition" was a resounding success. We can not plug this with enough enthusiasm. If you love "E.T.", don’t worry. You will love it as much as ever. If you don’t love "E.T.", well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and yours is wrong.

As we mentioned before, after the film, Kennedy and Marshall hung around in the lobby, just talking to audience members. They were both extremely personable and friendly, and seemed very happy to talk to the enthusiastic fans. And Kennedy doesn’t need to worry: however old she is, she looks quite good.

Without a doubt, one of the high points of the experience was talking to Marshall about the future of "Indiana Jones." We simply that mentioned that "Raiders" had been the movie that started our lifelong obsession with film, and he seemed thrilled by the prospect of talking about it. "We’re thinking about doing this with ‘Indy’" he said, "bringing it back out and spiffing up the effects." Before seeing the new "E.T.," we would have had mixed feelings about seeing "Raiders" touched in any way. Now the prospect is mouth-watering. Marshall also confirmed what everybody wants to hear, that they are starting to get serious about "Indy IV." "Harrison told me ‘we need to do this before I’m in a wheelchair," he joked. (Okay, from you’re perspective, this is old news, but to get it straight from Marshall himself was pretty darn cool.). We also asked Marshall whether we would ever see Ford’s deleted "E.T." scenes as Elliott’s school principal. "No," he replied flatly, "we thought it would take people out of the film. And frankly, the way I remember it, he wasn’t all that good." He then stressed that the last part was a joke.

So, to sum up, "E.T." is as great as it ever was. See it five times. Then see it again. And, to the producers: bring on that "Raiders" special edition.

("Castor and Pollux Troy")

SLC, Utah

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