Close Encounters of the Third Kind
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
While Iíve never actually seen a UFO, Iím kind of hesitant to admit that Iím actually a believer in extra terrestrial life. While that crappy Fox special ďAlien AutopsyĒ did little to convince people about their existence (the show was awful), how can anyone ignore the thousands of sightings that happen every year? Donít even get me started on what happened in Roswell. The 1977 science fiction epic about aliens and motherships, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", gets a jam packed double-disc release which seriously delivers the goods.
Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is your average family man. Heís got a loving wife, three young kids and a decent job. After a chance night of watching the skies along with other locals, he manages to see a bright formation of UFOs hovering about the countryside. From that point on, he slowly begins to lose his marbles, building mashed potato and dirt sculptures in a desperate attempt to recreate what he saw and continues on that mystery onwards.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
After having opened the wrapping on this DVD, I thought I was in for a big cinematic treat. The packaging on the disc proclaimed that it ďdeserves a historic place in movie entertainmentĒ and that it was ďone of the most spectacular movies ever madeĒ. After having read those wonderful accolades, I think I totally missed the bus on this movie. I didnít get it. And by ďget itĒ, I mean that the flick is one big anticlimactic fluff piece which I honestly donít think warrants the glowing reviews on the box. The visuals arenít by any means disappointing, even by todayís standards but thereís no real mystery or drama to the story. While I hate to make a comparison to INDEPENDENCE DAY (another movie I thought sucked), at least it had a solid conflict, plot progression and a riveting conclusion. In this one, thereís no real suspense to the revelation, it just happens and weíre then forced to sit through two hours of build-up which is supposed to qualify as groundbreaking and avant garde. Itís an exercise in sluggish filmmaking which runs its course very slowly, making for some painfully monotonous viewing at certain points.
I found myself yawning several times, just waiting for something to jump out and surprise me or at least keep me interested. I feel kind of strange writing this review because youíd think a movie with Steven Spielberg and Richard Dreyfuss attached would be a sure fire "canít miss", but while the two are great in their respective roles, the central plot of this movie simply isnít up to par. While Iím kind of ragging on the film, its biggest strength does deserve some recognition and that is its special effects. Given that this movie was released some 24 years ago, the spaceships and visual wizardry still look extremely convincing. Still, some spiffy looking UFOs can only keep a viewer interested for so long and the novelty wears off quite fast. With solid acting, great FX and a severely overdrawn script, "Close Encounters.." qualifies as mediocre viewing.
The actual DVD is a 2-disc set and all the extras are included on the second disc. The showcase bonus feature on the release is the inclusion of a "Making of" documentary which clocks in at, wait for it, 1 HOUR AND 42 MINUTES! Since Iíve been in the DVD reviewing business, Iíve never had the pleasure of seeing such a thorough and extensive featurette. The extra is practically the length of the movie! Be sure to check it out after watching the flick to get an incredible behind-the-scenes look which will answer every possible question you could have about the movie (Mind you, they never really explained why the movie kind of suckedÖbut thatís just my opinion).
They also managed to thrown in no less than 11 deleted scenes which in total run close to 24 minutes. Again, for fans of the movie, theyíre definitely worth a look to see what was left on the cutting room floor. The quickie 1977 featurette ďWatching the SkiesĒ (5 minutes) comes off as a pitch to theatre owners to carry the movie, prior to its initial release, while two theatrical trailers and some quick production notes round out the extras. The DVDís menus are completely animated with cool spaceship shots and sounds from the movie. While I normally donít comment on the packaging of the discs I review, "Close Encounters.." has the flimsiest cardboard packaging Iíve ever seen and looks like itís going to start falling apart any second. Arrgh!
While I seem to be in the minority of people who didnít like this supposed "classic" film, I think that its top notch array of deleted scenes and super comprehensive documentary certainly make up for it. If youíre a fan of the movie, donít even hesitate to go out and buy this DVD, it doesnít get much better than this. If youíve never actually seen the movie, Iíd cautiously recommend it as a rental because itís not for everyone (or apparently, just me). Buyer and renter beware!