Friday, April 29, 2016

E.T. The Extraterrestrial

E.T. phone some pacing and a coherent plotline.

 I hated this movie as a kid because E.T. scared the bejabbers out of me. I never made it through the whole film before I'd start crying and run out of the room (fun tidbit, I was also afraid of the song "Driving in My Cadillac" and of Yoda). Last night marked the first time I saw the film in it's entirety. And hopefully the last time. Why on Earth is this listed as "the greatest science fiction movie ever made"? Did the people rating just really hate the science fiction genre? I know this is an extremely iconic movie, but watching without the lens of nostalgia, all I can see is that the movie is clunky, badly paced, and makes no damn sense. The third act is a complete mess of non sequitur. Okay, so being away from his planet and people makes E.T. sick. I can see that. But the government scientist people who have been built up as threatening were only threatening accidentally, and when they actually find E.T., they do everything that they can to help. While Elliot screams that they're "killing him", he doesn't actually offer any suggestions on what they should do instead. Stop killing him, presumably. I don't know, it's not really clear. The guy built up to be a sinister government agent, "Keys", is actually shown to be really nice, and gives Elliot time to mourn with E.T.'s dead body - alone. Which... E.T. then comes back to life for reasons that are unclear (proximity alert?), and Elliot makes the logical decision to fake a meltdown and then steal a truck instead of tell the guy who apparently wants nothing more than to help what's happening. And then some police pull out guns, but that's not clear either. Why? Those guys seem to be in an entirely different movie than the one we're actually watching. Maybe they wandered over from the set of Splash, where the government types actually were being sinister on purpose and were actually intent on experimenting on the otherworldly creature.

 I don't know... maybe if I hadn't have been terrified of this movie as a kid, I wouldn't have seen it as chock full of weird inconsistencies and plot holes. My roommate watched it with me, and he grew up with the picture, and was far more forgiving. Maybe I've seen too many parodies - my personal favorite being from Freakazoid!. But instead of seeing a movie filled with whimsy and mystical wonder, instead I started thinking about how Steven Spielberg movies often suffer from being too long, because while he's trying to build up atmosphere, instead he's just meandering. A lot of scenes drag on... and on... and on... and on. While I thought all the little Star Wars nods were cute, they didn't save the movie for me (by the way, it's Ponda Baba, not Walrus Face, you ignorant child!). I was just bored by most of it.

Instead of being caught up in the whimsy of a child finding his very own alien friend, I found myself checking the Netflix timer to see how long I had to go. The last time I watched a movie that felt so long was Bicentennial Man. I don't demand constant stimulation from my films, but I do like some pacing. I know a lot of people adore this movie, but all I could think while watching was that I would rather the camera had stayed on This Island Earth.

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