Close Encounters of the Third Kind Retro Review

By: Antawn Salinas  Twitter: @OwlFeedAntawn

I like aliens. You like aliens (I assume). But you know who else loves aliens? Steven Spielberg. Many of his movies are sci-fi films and five of them involve aliens, well, four of them, I try to forget about one of them (I’m looking at you Crystal Skull). But, before he did E.T., Spielberg explored the idea of mysterious extra terrestrials with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which just recently had its 40th anniversary.

CEotTKposterBecause of the 40th anniversary, they released it for a week in theaters in 4K with a bonus featurette at the beginning of it. There will probably be a updated blu-ray of the film soon (no promises), but I got the pleasure to check it out at the Harkins Cine 1, which is pretty much an IMAX screen.

When some mysterious saucer looking objects fly through a small town in Wyoming, some people, including the government, witness them flying by. Some of the people include family man Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss) and single mother Jillian Guiler (played by Melinda Dillon), who are affected by the aliens. They try to figure out what’s going on, while the government keeps on trying to hide the mysterious alien encounters.

Seeing it for the first time, especially on an IMAX screen, it’s incredible. From a time where CG didn’t exist yet, the special effects they use in the beginning and the end of the film is still really good. They still hold up. But, what’s special about the movie is that the special effects aren’t the number one focus.

The whole middle part is about how Dreyfuss and Guiler are dealing with their close encounters with the aliens. Because of this, they act crazy around people and their families, which leads to the drama as well of the comedy of the movie. Their acting is also really good, and Dreyfuss’ hijinks of trying to figure out what’s going on is a highlight.

The real star of the film though, is Mr.Spielberg himself. If any other person made this, either the aliens would be the villains or some business tycoon would be the enemy, but nope. Spielberg focuses on wonder more than conflict. The whole movie is just people trying to figure out what the hell is going on, just like he did with Jaws and E.T.

Spielberg does this by having multiple genres in this one film. This movie is a science fiction, a drama, a mystery, a thriller, and a comedy. If you like the things that were probably inspired by this, like Super 8, Stranger Things, or IT(2017), you’ll love this film. They focus on the adults though, the kids are kind of off in the background most of the time.

The build up for this film is great, though it feels a little long. Not a complaint, just a nitpick. But, I digress. The last scene of the film is freaking awesome. Almost all of it doesn’t have dialogue, and if there is, the lines are kept short. It just lets the visuals, the score, and the wonder take control. It holds up today, and that is why this is a classic.