IMDb > Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) > Reviews & Ratings - IMDb
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips
Filter: Hide Spoilers:
Page 1 of 32:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]
Index 311 reviews in total 

136 out of 170 people found the following review useful:

personal all-time favorite

10/10
Author: billreynolds from usa
27 January 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

For my taste, the first hour and a half of this movie is the greatest stretch of filmmaking ever. Up until Roy and Jillian reach the "dark side of the moon" on Devil's Tower, this movie is perfect. No, it's beyond perfect -- it's sublime. It takes me to a level of bliss that no other movie can do.

Many critics and viewers -- including a number on this site -- don't like this movie at all. Those who do like it almost uniformly like the final sequence, the "alien landing," the best. For me it is the rest of the movie that is the most remarkable. Some of my favorite sequences:

1. The blinding flash of light that ends the opening credits and leads us to a sandstorm in Sonora Desert, Mexico -- Present Day, with various team leaders, Bob Balaban, and Francois Truffaut speaking three languages as they find a whole bunch of old Navy planes lost in the Bermuda Triangle and an old geezer who saw something very strange. "El sol salio a noche. Y me canto," he keeps saying. Translation: "He says the sun came out last night. He says it sang to him." Then Balaban translates for Truffaut: "Il dit que le soleil etait venue ici hier soir, et qu'il chantait pour lui." Then Balaban disappears in a cloud of dust. The mystery created in that sequence is incredible -- the greatest opening of all time, if you ask me. Trivia note: that sequence was the last Spielberg filmed before the movie's release. The shooting script opens with Indianapolis Flight Control, but Spielberg decided he wanted a new opening and shot this after production had wrapped. Supposedly this sequence was inspired by the Iraqi prologue in the Exorcist.

2. Roy's first encounter with the aliens in his power company truck -- a brilliantly conceived and edited sequence. I love the dolly in to Roy's window as he pants in shock in the shadows, then the comedy of his reaction when the lights in the truck come back on.

3. The "sky speeders" disappearing into the clouds over Muncie, followed by lightning and then the lights of the city coming back on, bit by bit. Spielberg's use of miniatures here is breathtaking -- as it was in 1941 and as it is later in CE3K when the UFO believers gather again to await another encounter and the lights from the government helicopters move toward them across the plains below.

4. The entire sequence of Roy going crazy. This was controversial with critics -- Pauline Kael, who loved the movie generally, hated Roy throwing the bushes into the kitchen -- and Spielberg actually cut the entire digging up the garden sequence from the so-called "Special Edition." To me, though, this is the absolute heart of the movie. Ask people what they remember from CE3K and the first thing they'll say is "mashed potatoes." To my mind, the garden sequence is one of those magical moments that is so funny and so sad it's just perfect. I believe every second of it, every time. The reactions of the kids are perfect -- the oldest son is big enough to be angry, while the middle says, "Dad, when we're finished with this can we throw dirt in my window?" (In the dinner sequence, little Sylvia has arguably the best line in a movie full of them -- "I hate, I hate these potatoes. There's a dead fly in my potatoes." An ad lib, of course.)

In recent years, Spielberg has expressed concern with the fact that Roy leaves his family to pursue the aliens, and has said that if he were to make the movie over again, he would change that part. To my way of thinking, if you take that out, there is no movie. What this movie is really about is Roy's obsession, and that, I think, is why it has such a hold on me personally. This movie is about what it's like for a person whose life has lost its meaning suddenly finding there is a really important purpose, and pursuing that purpose at all costs. Is it right for him to turn his family's life upside down and ultimately leave them behind to do that? No. But his obsession is understandable, I think, and the purpose Roy finds is something a lot of people would like to feel. Also, it's clear that Roy is not acting entirely of his own free will -- he has been "commanded" subliminally to make his way to Devil's Tower.

I am not aware of any other movie -- or book, or any other source, for that matter -- that portrays 70s suburban life so accurately. The street, the house, the cars, the toys, the furniture -- it is like an archeological document. And the way the kids act, and the family conflicts -- to my way of thinking, they are all portrayed with unerring accuracy and realism. Some have contended that Ronnie is unflatteringly portrayed, but to me that's not fair. She can't be blamed for reacting the way she does to Roy -- many people in her shoes would. Garr's performance is brilliant; she and Dreyfuss are magical together. Melinda Dillon, too, is brilliant in her role. In the shooting script, the sexual attraction between Roy and Jillian was more overt, but Spielberg wisely downplays it in the finished film. It's only hinted at, although it is there.

The actual "alien landing" sequence, in my opinion, is a letdown. It's brilliantly photographed and realized, but once Roy and Jillian make it to the dark side of the moon, the primary tension in the story is gone. If I could edit this movie, I'd take a major pair of shears to the final sequence, cut it down to maybe half its current length. I do get choked up when I see Roy in his red suit at the end of the line of astronauts, though, and Jillian wiping tears away as she clicks away with her Kodak.

As with the original Star Wars, my other all-time favorite movie, I have a problem with the way this picture has been hacked and altered from its original release through various special editions. I understand it's possible to watch the original 1977 cut on the DVD, and I'm glad of that. That original version is the best. I first got to know this movie on ABC in the early 1980s, when it was shown with all the original and Special Edition footage edited together. Personally, I don't think the special edition footage adds much (even the Gobi desert sequence, which is an interesting concept that was in the shooting script, stands out because it was obviously shot by a different DP and doesn't have Truffaut in it).

Anyway, I will always cherish this movie. "You tell Crystal Lake we're going to candlepower in ten minutes!" "Zey belong here more zan we." "There's always some joker who thinks he's immune." "You can't fool us by agreeing with us." "What the hell is going on around here? Who the hell are you people?" "Ronnie, everything's fine. All this stuff is coming down."

Was the above review useful to you?

110 out of 134 people found the following review useful:

Transforming Fear to Wonder

Author: Graham Ames (hippybear) from Spokane, Washington
16 July 2004

An amazing film, one of my favorites. I watch this regularly, especially at times when the reality of life is overwhelming, just to refocus and regain some sense of perspective.

Everything in this film works toward one end: to transform the adult sense of fear back into the childlike sense of wonder at the world. From the very opening moments of the film, designed to create confusion and startlement, this movie creates a sensation of dread and foreboding. The dissonance of the soundtrack, the juxtaposition of images, they all are working to build into the viewer a feeling that something just isn't right, that something out of the ordinary is taking place, and underscoring this all with a sense that this is something to resist, to pull away from, to not allow it to affect one's "ordinary life."

But as the movie progresses, the tone begins to shift, and the true intent of the film begins to peek through. This isn't about being afraid of the unknown, but rather embracing it. Paying attention to the "subliminal images" in life, allowing them to lead you into something unknown and perhaps dangerous, only then can one be open to wonder and experience the world through the magical eyes of a child.

Dreyfuss' character takes us on this journey, met with resistance all along the way. His wife, his neighbors, his job, his community, all are working against him, and it's only when he's reached his craziest that he truly gives in and begins to stop trying to understand and instead embraces the experiences in store for him. The scientific community is seeking to understand, but without having any personal calling to be involved. Only Barry is truly able to throw himself into the strangeness that is taking place, and his enthusiasm is greeted by both the characters and the audience as somehow alien and threatening.

The ending of this film, when all the fear is finally stripped away and the sense of amazed wonder overtakes everyone on the screen and in the audience, brings about an amazing catharsis. Discarding all the "adult" sensibilities and being able to approach life once again with a sense of innocent amazement for the Strange hidden amongst the Ordinary, one can begin again to approach life from a fresh vantage point.

Powerful, mystifying, and rejuvenating. I highly recommend this film for anyone jaded with life and seeking a sense of renewal.

Was the above review useful to you?

79 out of 110 people found the following review useful:

Aliens in Muncie make for Spielberg's Best Film Ever

10/10
Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA
10 January 2006

Steven Spielberg has made huge popcorn blockbusters that gross more money at the box office (i.e. "Jaws," "Raiders of the Lost Ark," or "Jurassic Park") and are more exciting on a visceral level. As he as aged and matured as a director, he has also made movies that are more important and will hold a more solid place in the chronicles of film as an artistic document of history (i.e. "Schindler's List," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Munich"). For my money, his best film will still always be "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." This film is Spielberg's humanistic and heartfelt answer to Kubrick's intellectual and cerebral look at man's first contact with life from elsewhere in the universe in his 1968 opus "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"Close Encounters" came early on in Spielberg's career, made in 1977, and has all the hallmarks of his later films played just right before he became so self-referential. Here we have his typical bag of tricks long before they became so typical: familial strife, coming to terms with something bigger than oneself that challenges the male protagonist's view of the world around him, little kids in jeopardy, superb build up of suspense, fantastic visual effects, and a memorable score from John Williams. From the first UFO sightings in Muncie, Indiana to the fantastic finale at Devil's Tower in Wyoming, this is grand entertainment. Lots of films have emulated this movie to varying degrees of success, from Robert Zemeckis' earnest "Contact," to the shameful scam that was M. Night Shymalan's "Signs," and even Spielberg himself recently did the dark natured flip-side to benevolent alien encounters with his remake of "War of the Worlds" (which makes a fantastic double-feature with this). However, nothing compares to this true original. No other film has made me want to believe in aliens more, and I'll never look at a plate of mashed potatoes the same again.

Was the above review useful to you?

57 out of 80 people found the following review useful:

Beautiful, extraordinary and beautiful.

10/10
Author: TruPretender from Sundance, Utah
9 August 2005

Watch the skies, you may see the stars move. Is it your imagination, or did it really happen. Answer to that could go both ways. Three UFOs fly past you while you are on the highway, one bright blue, the other red and blue, and the third bright orange, followed by a small red orbit tailgating it. Was this real, or just your imagination: Either it was real, or you must be seeing things...

Thus is among th many questions asked in the Steven Spielberg UFO classic, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" a film that explores not just the possibility that we are not alone in the universe, but a film that compels us to look inside ourselves and try to find the real meaning in our lives. The story starts when lost pilots planes are being found, except that they have been lost for over thirty years! And in another part of this world, a married man, working for a cable company, experiences a "close encounter" of the first kind - sighting a UFO. Then, he experiences physical experiences regarding a shape and place he has never comprehending before. With a scientific expedition in pursuit, Roy Neary( Richard Dreyfuss) and a fellow "close encountering" Jillian Guiler(Melinda Dillon) try to find out the answer to their questions of why these strange occurrences are happening.

As realistic as it could be, this film transcends the usual alien picture because it portrays the unbelievable as totally realistic and what one wouldn't expect - intelligent life is just that - intelligent, and accepting, of our world and universe. The images in this film light up the screen and make you feel like you are living a dream, with flurry images of light, making one feel warm and gentle. The locations are great too, as they go from Mongolian deserts, to farmlands, to the famous "Devil's Tower" in Wyoming, where the main magic happens.

The characters are what really grab you. Roy Neary, the main focus, is as normal as he can be, what with working for a power company. A perfect fit in the puzzle this movie weaves. Francois Truffaut makes an almost rare appearance in a much bigger role than usual, as an astronaut that is just as fascinated with these happenings as the rest of the civilians. All characters are credible and you just learn to love 'em. The story lines (including family values, what is more important in one's life, and what the ultimate experience in heaven is) are as empathetic as it can get.

John Williams scores a masterpiece with a score that touches all the senses in our subconscious and takes us on a journey with the characters, but on a journey within ourselves, as does the movie, and in the end, you feel refreshed and ready to take on your troubles and strife.

The matter of which version is which is a real conversation piece. As the original theatrical version is VERY rarely seen, one suspects, based on many reviews, that the 1980 re - release is a much better film. But this should not hinder any viewings of this spectacular film.

Spielberg, get back to these kinds of films!

Was the above review useful to you?

66 out of 106 people found the following review useful:

Spielberg Takes You Into A Realm Beyond the Known

10/10
Author: jhclues from Salem, Oregon
26 July 2001

Strange things are happening around the world; things that challenge the imagination and open the mind to possibilities almost beyond imagining. Things that only director Steven Spielberg can explain, which he does in his monumental epic of man's encounter with alien life, `Close Encounters of the Third Kind.' Planes lost in WWII suddenly appear in a Mexican desert; a long lost ship turns up in the middle of the Gobi Desert; and in Dharmsala, Northern India, hundreds of people are gathered together, singing--a short `tune' that consists of a mere five notes, over and over, repeatedly. When they are asked where they heard this tune, the throng, as one, dramatically thrust their hands into the air and point to the sky. And, indeed, in the skies all around the world, strange things are happening.

And even as these events are transpiring, one evening in Muncie, Indiana, the city is suddenly blacked out by an inexplicable power outage. Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is at home when it hits, and he is called in by the power company for which he works, then sent out in the darkness to an unfamiliar location. Lost, he sits in his pick-up truck at a railroad crossing, studying a map, when all at once he notices a `disturbance' around him. Mailboxes along the side of the road are clanging open and shut by themselves; then things inside his truck begin to move, subtly at first, then erupting and flying about as if caught up in a tornado--and then just as suddenly his truck is engulfed in a blinding light. He leans out the window for a look, but it's too bright and he has to pull back. Then just as abruptly, it all stops-- the disturbance, the light-- everything. And he looks out the window again; but this time he sees something. And though he doesn't realize it at the time, at that moment, his life changed forever.

In this wonderfully realized, highly imaginative film that is extremely well crafted and presented by Spielberg, he takes you along with Roy in the days that follow that strange occurrence in Muncie. Roy becomes lost in thought, drifting, unable to focus on anything, much to the consternation of his wife, Ronnie (Teri Garr). But he can't help himself; something-- an image-- has begun to form in his mind. He has no idea what it is or what it means, but it becomes an obsession, and slowly it begins to take shape: First in a handful of shaving cream, then in a plate of mashed potatoes, which he piles up and begins to sculpt with his fork, while Ronnie and his kids look on in bewilderment. But he can see it in his mind, and it's like a mountain-- a mountain shaped like a `tower.' And Roy isn't the only one. Around the world, others are being drawn to the same image in their minds, and it's a force that compels them, pushing them on to find whatever it is, a power so strong in cannot be denied or refused. They know only one thing: Whatever it is, it's important, and they have no choice but to follow where it may lead. And it becomes a great adventure, one in which they discover what Man has long suspected: We are not alone.

Richard Dreyfuss is perfectly cast as Neary, a regular guy-- he could be your neighbor or the man who comes to install your phone-- and gives a thoroughly convincing, introspective performance while creating a character with whom it is easy to relate and through whom you are able to share this unique adventure. Garr does a good job, as well, as Ronnie, the wife concerned with her husband's sudden and seemingly bizarre behavior, someone with whom you can certainly sympathize. Dillon delivers, too, as the single mother who suddenly finds herself caught up in these inexplicable and extraordinary events, and also turning in a memorable performance is the young Cary Guffey, as Barry, Jillian's son, who makes his own connection with the other-worldly visitors.

The supporting cast includes Francois Truffaut (Lacombe), Bob Balaban (Laughlin) and Lance Henriksen (Robert). An uplifting, positive motion picture, `Close Encounters of the Third Kind' is thoroughly entertaining, as well as thought provoking. Spielberg draws you in as few filmmakers can, with a great story and with characters who are readily accessible and with whom it is easy to identify-- all of which adds up to an absorbing, memorable and enjoyable experience, and a perfect example of the real magic of the movies. I rate this one 10/10.

Was the above review useful to you?

38 out of 56 people found the following review useful:

A terrific movie about alien contact.

9/10
Author: Jonathon Dabell (barnaby.rudge@hotmail.co.uk) from Todmorden, England
20 April 2005

Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is a film about aliens landing on earth, but instead of descending into the usual laser-gun confrontations between humans and aliens, this one dares to remain "peaceful". It is a film about contact, not conflict. It is also a wonderfully thoughtful film and a prime example of compelling story-telling. If there is a weakness with Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, it is that the director Steven Spielberg occasionally allows sentimentality to enter into the proceedings, but in truth it is a very minor weakness and it doesn't significantly spoil this tremendous movie experience.

Several missing aircraft turn up over 30 years after they were reported lost. More baffling still is the fact that they vanished over Florida but have turned up, in pristine condition and without pilots, in the middle of Mexico. Other weird things happen: an aeroplane pilot reports a near collision with a brightly lit spacecraft; a Navy warship missing for decades is found in the desert; thousands of Indians report a light in the sky which "sang" to them; and across America there are scores of inexplicable UFO sightings. Electrician Roy Neary (Richard Dreyfuss) is a normal family man who sees one of the UFOs. Soon after, he is tormented by a vision apparently implanted in his mind by the aliens. His torment becomes obsession as he tries to figure out the meaning of a hill-like shape that has become embedded in his mind. As his marriage collapses, he desperately tries to find answers and is finally gratified when he discovers that the picture in his head is trying to tell him where to go in order to witness an extra terrestrial landing.

The fact that Roy Neary is just an everyday guy cast into the most incredible of circumstances gives this film a real human dimension. Roy could represent any one of us - you, me, your next door neighbour, your father, whoever. Spielberg tells his story very carefully, adding clues and more layers of mystery before actually revealing where the story is heading. It is probably the most controlled and skillfully paced of Spielberg's '70s films. The ending, featuring the alien arrival, is a technical tour-de-force, but it works well on an emotional level too because the viewer has grown to know Roy and has been drawn into his quest for answers. John Williams provides yet another legendary music score - including an iconic five-note tune which the aliens and humans use to communicate with each other. Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is a classic sci-fi film, as fresh and absorbing now as it was back in 1977.

Was the above review useful to you?

40 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Another Memorable Spielberg Hit From the '70s

9/10
Author: ccthemovieman-1 from United States
10 June 2006

This is probably considered "a classic" by now, along with a few other 1970s Steven Spielberg movies. At the time of its release almost 30 years ago, the special-effects in here were astounding to view....and still hold up! They are still fun to watch.

The scenes in the beginning of this movie and at the end, are indelibly imprinted in my memory cells as well as millions of others. Who can ever forget that opening scene in the farmhouse when the little boy (Gary Guffey) is kidnapped or that ending with the gigantic spacecraft hovering over Devil's Hole in Wyoming, or the sound sequences emitted by the scientists trying to communicate with the aliens? There are many, many memorable scenes in this film - probably its biggest attribute.

To me, the only uncomfortable scene is the yelling match with Richard Dreyfuss and his family. The only message I didn't care for also involved Dreyfuss' character, who is "envied" at the end. Funny, I don't see a man who thoughtlessly leaves his family beyond as someone to be envied. Overall Dreyfuss looked more like a "Doofus" in here.

There are other credibility problems in here, too, but overall it's extremely interesting storytelling, great colors and special-effects and just about everything that director Steve Spielberg is noted for in his successful box-office films which translates to one crucial factor: entertainment.

Was the above review useful to you?

22 out of 34 people found the following review useful:

Strong emotional core that avoids Rockwell-esque sentimentality

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
24 January 2003

When the whole area suffers a full blackout, electrician Roy Neary is called out to service some poles suspected of being down. Sitting in his truck trying to find directions he is suddenly caught in a bright light and the electric's on his truck fail. Shortly it passes and he sees a craft pass overhead. At the same time nearby a woman pursues her young son who has wandered out in search of the lights that have been calling to him. Both adults are left wanting to know the truth and filled with half-ideas and images that haunt them – when Gillian Guiler son is taken, this becomes even more important to them. Meanwhile the military, led by investigator Claude Lacombe uncover planes and ships that have been missing for decades and uncover hidden codes and signals in the mysterious crafts.

I am currently ploughing my way through Speilberg's Taken on BBC2 so I thought I'd give this classic another view just to remind myself how good Speilberg and aliens can be. The plot is perfect for any UFO nut – the government are behind everything and know of everything. The story unfolds really well – the three main stories complimenting each other and giving the film a sense of pace. The strand with Lacombe following events all round the globe is the least personal (and thus least involving) but it is enticing us for the climax of the film. Neary's soul searching maybe does go on a little too long but the emotion in the family situation is intense and his frustration and sense of confusion is very real. Although the thrid strand has less screen time the abduction of the child is a powerful scene and the emotion is well brought out.

The special effects are very good but the glue of the film is the emotional telling. This is Speilberg doing well – he never really gives into his American Apple Pie style sentimentality and the film keeps moving along and has a real emotional heart to it. The climax of the movie always sort of messes me up and I find it best not to question it's logic on any level for fear of holes opening up all over it – but it does have a sense of childlike wonder to it, which I guess Speilberg was trying to get across.

As usual Dreyfuss does well under Speilberg and he is mostly responsible for keeping the emotion in his character realistic without being all syrupy and sickly. Truffaut is OK but it's impossible to see him as anyone but Francis Truffaut and his character suffers as a result. Garr and Dillon are both strong female characters for different reasons and the support cast are generally very good (including a good handful of the Dreyfuss family).

Overall this film never gets me as one of the greatest sci-fi's of all time, but it is certainly a very good film that takes `real' people as it's driver and not flashy effect shots. That `Taken' seems to be slipping into Norman Rockwell type mawkishness is good enough reason to revisit CE3K.

Was the above review useful to you?

33 out of 57 people found the following review useful:

Spielberg's most overrated film.

1/10
Author: jiangliqings
23 November 2000

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

* 1/2 star out of ****

Keep in mind Steven Spielberg is my all-time favorite director. I love so many of his works, whether it's powerful drama (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, Amistad) or fun escapist action films (the Indiana Jones films). But with Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I was hugely dismayed by how dull, plodding, predictable, and outright stupid this film was.

The fact is, the film contains so many annoying little flaws that all combine to bring the whole thing down. Probably the most damaging aspect is the predictability of the story. It takes 2 hours for the film to get to where I knew it was headed, and the resolution was most definitely not worth it.

Richard Dreyfuss (who you'll probably confuse with Bob Balaban because of their similar looks), who is a decent actor in his own right, is disappointing as Roy Neary, whose character is so crazy and unlikeable, the experience of watching the film becomes numb. The fact that he decides (spoiler) to leave his family behind to go with the aliens is unbelievable, nowhere near as convincing as Jodie Foster's and Gary Sinise's decisions to explore the stars in their respective sci-fi dramas, Contact and Mission to Mars, two vastly superior films.

Close Encounters also suffers from some rhythmless pacing. Everything moves slowly, and nothing really interesting occurs. Granted, the finale is a visual treat, and the aliens do look realistic, but it's surprisingly dissatisfying. There's nothing here truly worth watching.

The script, written by Spielberg himself, isn't particularly compelling. The dialogue is a little weak, the character development misfires, and attempts to inspire a sense of awe are smothered by some really odd music from John Wiliams (a contrast to the brilliant scores of Alan Silvestri and Ennio Morricone in, once again, Contact and Mission to Mars). Talk about a time when this film could have used one of those two composers or James Horner instead.

Was the above review useful to you?

59 out of 109 people found the following review useful:

Overrated, disappointing sci-fi film that has become fondly remembered over the years...but why?

4/10
Author: MovieAddict2014 from UK
31 July 2004

Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977) is a genuinely silly, unfortunately outdated story. Its epic scope made it one of the highest-grossing films of 1977, nominated for two Academy Awards ® (it lost Best Visual Effects to George Lucas' "Star Wars"). Now, 27 years later, it just seems goofy and sickeningly sweet.

Spielberg adds a schmaltzy layer to most of his films that set his projects apart from the work of other directors. Arguably the most famous filmmaker since Hitchcock (in terms of public recognition), Spielberg is responsible for some of the greatest films ever made. Most critics consider "E.T." and "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" – both films that deal with extra-terrestrial life – to be some of his finest. For me, they are both rather disappointing. And unbearably sugar coated.

So, what is the primary problem with "Close Encounters"? Is it a bad movie? No, not really. But it's not a particularly memorable one, either. Apart from a few so-called "classic" sequences (the boy opening the door, the mashed potatoes, the alien arrival), the movie fails to spark much interest. Most of it – to be completely blunt – is quite stupid. Spielberg admits on the Special Edition DVD that he finds "Close Encounters" a bit too optimistic and unrealistic. When Spielberg made this movie, he believed in extra-terrestrial life, and was a young man with no children. In retrospect, Spielberg claims that the movie is a perfect snapshot of his youth, but as an adult, he would never make the movie the same way he did in '77.

One of the largest flaws is the fact that Roy Neary (played by Richard Dreyfuss fresh off the success of Spielberg's 1975 smash hit "JAWS") abandons his own family (wife and children) to embark on a crazy search for extra-terrestrial life. In a matter of thirty minutes of screen time he has packed up, traveled to Wyoming, broken past blocked off roads, found a new romantic interest, and by the end...well...let's just say that the conclusion is rather shameful on Spielberg's behalf. It is quite evident that he had no firm grasp of moral obligation in '77, and Roy's climactic decision is wholly unbelievable.

Then again, most of the film is like that, too.

Neary is an electrician who experiences a "close encounter" one night when a UFO seems to attack his car, and then flies off into the distance. Roy soon struggles with confusing mental images that have mysteriously implanted into his brain.

Hounded by the smart Dr. Lacombe (French director Francois Truffaut in his acting debut), Roy soon realizes that the extra-terrestrials plan to land on earth – and he wants to be there, to see it all.

Roy's evolution is too fast – in a matter of what seem to be few days he has turned into a complete loon, and because of Spielberg's lack of character arc, the sudden change is startling and – worst of all – cold. We lose all sense of empathy for Roy, primarily because we do not experience his pain – we see him suffering, sure, and moping around like a "cry baby," as his son names him. But this happens so fast that we are left wanting more.

The movie's conclusion – which lasts over forty minutes long – is the most exciting part, but the abrupt change of pace (from being a slow-moving charming family film about "close encounters" to an oddball chase movie about the government covering up a dangerous conspiracy and hunting down escaped witnesses) hinders the lasting impact. Spielberg is constantly trying to find a groove for his movie, and never really finds one to stay the course.

Then, there's the long-awaited alien introduction (which lasts over twenty minutes long). Most people flocked to the theaters in order to see this sequence – the special effects showcase of the year. This is proven by the fact that Spielberg purposely draws out the scene for such a lengthy period of time. Then, audiences savored the F/X because they were the best since Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" (even the trailer advertisements claimed this was so, in order to entice viewers). Now, they're outdated, by almost all standards of special effects. Watching them for twenty minutes becomes tiring.

And of course, the annoying musical conversation between man and alien comes next – something else that only makes the film more grating so many years later. "It's so '70s!" someone once said. I agree. (Many great masterpieces were made during the 1970s, but most people forget how many downright cheesy, forgettable movies were made, too.)

"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" simply does not hold up after 27 years, which is quite unfortunate. The F/X are shoddy, the ideas are insane, the movie is long and boring, and the direction and acting are about the only two things that approach greatness. Spielberg shows talent behind the camera here, but it is vastly inferior to "JAWS." Even John Williams' score fails to leave the same impact as "JAWS," "Jurassic Park," etc.

Produced during a slew of "happy alien" movies (followed by another slew of "mean alien" movies during the '80s after Ridley Scott's "Alien" in 1979), "Close Encounters" is at times amusing, annoying, fast, long, and silly, all at once. The nation needed hope during the '70s, and they turned to the skies. Spielberg answered their calls, with a movie that set records, but is now nothing but a forgettable tale.

Many will disagree with me when I say that "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" is an overrated, disappointing motion picture with few redeeming qualities. The harsh feedback should be interesting.

2.5/5

Was the above review useful to you?


Page 1 of 32:[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [Next]

Add another review


Related Links

Plot summary Plot synopsis Ratings
Awards Newsgroup reviews External reviews
Parents Guide Official site Plot keywords
Main details Your user reviews Your vote history