Say 'Spielbergian' and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial is the film that probably pops into most people's heads. On the surface, it's a simple tale of boy meets alien, boy and alien become friends, boy loses alien, but like all good flicks there's more here than mere story, from the wonderful puppet design and John Williams's spine-tingling score to the script's understanding of its childhood characters and Spielberg's deft direction. It treads a fine line between involving drama and syrupy sentimentality, though.
Picture: Universal's UHD Blu-ray remaster of E.T. isn't a jaw-dropping blaze of 4K, high dynamic range glory. The word to have in mind when approaching E.T.'s new 4K HDR clothes is ‘sensitive'. Rather than pushing the film's naturalistic photography and settings into extreme realms, HDR and wide colour enhancements are used gently and respectfully.
Interiors in Elliott's home feature more luminous artificial light sources than you get on the HD Blu-ray, as well as palpably richer colours in things like the Art Deco lamp above the dining table, and his closet's stained glass window. Mostly, though, the HDR just subtly makes you more aware of the overwhelming beigeness of everything. Which is, of course, exactly the point.
Similar respect for the source can be seen in the 4K disc's approach to sharpness and detail. For while the image looks more dense and filmic, with clear extra textures and detailing, sharpness never seems overcooked. There's still a marginally hazy look. Basically the 4K transfer still looks like E.T. has always looked, only better.
Picture rating: 4/5
Audio: This 4K debut is graced with a new DTS:X mix. As with the upgraded picture, this is more about subtle refinement than dynamics and drama. The classic score sounds seamlessly steered around your array, while dialogue and spot effects are precise and clean. Purists can stick to the original stereo option.
Audio rating: 4/5
Extras: All extras appear on the accompanying Blu-ray – which is the same disc launched in 2012 to celebrate the film's 30th anniversary. These extras include two deleted scenes, various cast and crew interviews, an outstanding 54-minute doc featuring almost exclusively on-set footage, and a more formal 37-minute Making of... supported by featurettes on composer John Williams.
Extras rating: 4/5
We say: Universal's E.T. 4K regrade (and DTS:X mix) is clearly a respectful labour of love.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Universal Pictures, Ultra HD Blu-ray & All-region BD, £25
HCC VERDICT: 4/5
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