Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) Poster

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Transforming Fear to Wonder
hippybear16 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.
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personal all-time favorite
billreynolds27 January 2004
Warning: 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."
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Aliens in Muncie make for Spielberg's Best Film Ever
WriterDave10 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.
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A legendary classic
nestoryaviti8 June 2018
The movie that made everyone fall in love with space and aliens. Amazing and beautiful story telling makes this movie one of the best the ever was.
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Mixed feelings
wisewebwoman2 November 2008
When I saw this first in the theatre I was blown away. It affected me profoundly. I thought the whole concept was fresh and new, the family strife, the yearning for and then actively seeking a higher concept for one's life, the mental breakdown of the main character as he tries to visualize what's inside his head: messages from alien beings.

Richard Dreyfus, Francois Truffaut, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, all perfectly cast. Along with Cary, the child actor who is brilliant.

As a microcosm of life in the seventies, the film is amazingly evocative, the perfect young family suburb, the children, the stay at home wife, the backyard barbecues. The husband who is a dreamer and when he starts to act it out, shatters this perfect home life.

Then the action moves to the mountain where the aliens are preparing to land. This scene got me in the theatre and gets me now. It is highly emotional. The music, the lights, the response of the mother ship. Highly charged cinematic moments.

However, and it is a big one. The transition of Richard Dreyfuss's character is far too sudden, he turns his back on children he obviously adores without any reflection whatsoever. How on earth would they survive in a seventies world without his income? Also Bob Balaban and Richard Dreyfuss are almost twin like in appearance and I kept getting them mixed up.

Francois Truffaut gave a fine performance as did many of the minor players. And the special affects - way before modern CGI - are breathtaking for their time.

Sometimes one is better leaving a movie seen in a theatre on its release exactly there: a one time viewing only. Seeing it for a second time removes the wonder and awe of that first viewing.

I would have given it a 9 the first time, this time a 6 so I calculated a 7 out of 10 to be fair.
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Stands the test of time!
bfitty9 November 2018
This movie is as good as it was the year it came out. The story is still original and the acting is as good as any today. Sure the special effects are not as good as today, but they are fine. You can see it again or for the first time and have a delightful, suspenseful time. So curl up with your blankets and popcorn, this is a fun uplifiting movie for all!
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Beautiful, extraordinary and beautiful.
TruPretender9 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!
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Close Encounters... of the worst kind (contains spoilers)
db_ox146 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I love Steven's movies and brought this for £3 at the store today, simply because his name was attached to it and figured "hey if it's not great, it'll at least be fun"... unfortunately I was wrong.

Me and my fiancée sat watching it, but the film never really seems to grip you in any shape or form. I really enjoyed the character development in the film, showing excellent emotion and the lead character was quite amusing with his crazy moments.

My disappointment was down to the fact we were never really given anything to sink our teeth into... then the ending resulting in a bunch of song playing between ships and a keyboard with little lights?.... then more ships come to play a song... followed by a really BIG ship who out plays the musician..... it just seemed something and a whole lot of nothing in the end.

They fly light years to return a bunch of people and old planes, to kidnap a child for a couple of days and then take a guy, breaking his family up on the sole purpose of seeing some lights and hearing them play five keys of music? The end?....

Now I'm not bashing those who like it and don't want a flame war on here, at the end of the day it's just my opinion, but it really felt like two hours of nothing, with the opening ten minutes being the best part of the movie. A real shame as the opening ten mins seemed to be building up to an interesting movie.
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Spielberg's most overrated film.
jiangliqings23 November 2000
Warning: 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.
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Lost in the spectacle and suspense is a necessary character component
Movie_Muse_Reviews14 February 2010
After "Jaws" launched him toward eternal fame in 1975, Steven Spielberg's follow-up film would tackle a bigger cultural phenomenon: UFOs. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" was only the beginning of the director/producer's love affair with the possibility of life on other planets and the first to capture the magnitude of what first contact would be like with aliens in the era of emerging special effects.

But let's take a look at a film released just before it, in the same year (1977) in fact. A little film called "Star Wars." More than 30 years later it might not be fair to compare to the two, but the truth is that one film was about producing a big-budget cash-eating spectacle while the other was fulfilling the dream of a filmmaker to tell an amazing story in a world never before imagined. "Star Wars" has heart and "Close Encounters" has nothing but our attention.

It's hard to knock a film made before I was born in an era where I can't appreciate it for what it was at the time, but there are a lot of fundamental storytelling principles simply left out of this story that one cannot overlook. Visual effects, cinematography and Spielberg's knack for crafting great cinematic moments aren't enough to cover up barely existent character motivation.

I've read that Spielberg has regrets about the ending of this film, that his main character, Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), wouldn't make the choice he makes in the end. I have to agree -- and it's symptomatic of his entire film. Roy is a normal suburban Indiana family man who we don't know much about. Then his truck stalls and he has a close encounter with some kind of UFO. Suddenly he's a madman, being haunted by images of a mesa, ruining his familial relationships. He's driven as if by some other force to go all the way to Wyoming to figure out what it's all about.

Spielberg has us at that last bit of figuring out what it's all about. Roy, on the other hand, and the mother of a child who was "abducted" (Melinda Dillon) are just inexplicably possessed and driven to madness by a vision of a mesa. Roy going crazy and throwing dirt into his kitchen window or randomly sitting in the tub with the shower on for hours keeps our attention, but there's little sympathy going on because we really have no idea who he is. The ending scene of the film is much the same way. It's this drawn out scene of VFX spectacle and flashing lights and John Williams music but it's only a climax in that awing sense and in finally delivering what the film has been hiding from us the whole time. It is not a climax of great character realization (or at least epiphany that makes sense). It can be completely basic, like Luke Skywalker trusting the force, believing in his destiny and then becoming victorious, but it still has to be there and resonate with us in some way.

I certainly recognize some of the brilliant scene work Spielberg does throughout parts of the beginning and the latter half of the film, but there's a reason this is not a classic for all generations: great movies, especially sci-fi films, tell stories that transcend bad special effects or any other inhibitors and "Close Encounters" is about making a suspenseful film, not telling a deeply human story.

~Steven C

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Spielberg Takes You Into A Realm Beyond the Known
jhclues26 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.
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Slow Encounters Of The Worst Kind
jimbo-53-18651119 July 2015
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind is so terrible in so many ways that I'm at a loss as to where I even begin....

For starters very little happens in the film; now I'm not someone who has ADHD who needs explosions and car chases every two minutes in order to keep my interest in a film, but if you're going to set up a film in a slow burning way then it's always a good idea to make the characters interesting or give your audience something to care about. Seven Samurai is a good example of a film that is slow, but in that film the viewer is rewarded for their patience by a spectacular closing act. No such luck here. The first 90 minutes revolve around spaceships flying around we then have Dreyfuss and his family squabbling and arguing - all this isn't helped by the fact that none of them have a shred of likability about them. As the mother, Teri Garr was particularly grating and her overacting became mildly irritating. Likewise, the kids were annoying as well and the family melodrama that we witness for the majority of the running time gave me a mild headache.

I think the worst thing about this film is that Spielberg somehow manages to make this family unfriendly; younger viewers will be more forgiving than an adult audience and won't look for things such as poor character development, plot holes etc. Kids will just want the film to be fun and exciting and the problem here is that Close Encounters is neither. I can imagine kids saying 'Mummy, Daddy, when's this going to get going?' 'When is something going to happen?' Then mummy and daddy are going to be forced to apologize for wasting 2 hours of their children's time when they realise that it doesn't get going and that nothing happens. I can honestly imagine this film causing a family row.

Close Encounters is a terrible film and I can only assume that the high ratings have been awarded by Spielberg devotees - you know the sort of people who refuse to accept that he's capable of making a bad film. I, for one, would class myself as a Spielberg fan and have loved several of this films including Schindler's list, the first 3 Indiana Jones films, Jaws, Duel. However, I am prepared to accept that he does misfire on occasions by making boring films such as this and Empire Of The Sun. If you must watch a Spielberg film that involves an extra terrestrial encounter then you'd be better off watching ET.
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Overrated, disappointing sci-fi film that has become fondly remembered over the years...but why?
MovieAddict201631 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.

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Snore Factor 10/10
Ghenghy27 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Hated it when it came out, still feel the same. Pure fantasy, not to be confused with real science fiction. "The Burbs" of UFO movies. Hard to take this one seriously. And with all due apologies to Mr.Spielberg, who has made a number of great movies, but this ain't one of em'. There's nothing compelling, or intriguing about this flick and it's quite silly actually. I doubt that was the intent. Impossible to muster any sympathy for Richard Dreyfuss' character. He appeared to be having a little too much fun with his "obsession." Either that or he was warming up for his part in What About Bob. Melinda Dillon was quite good though in a contrasting role. And (spoiler alert) please people, escaping from the grasp of the military on a top secret installation and actually allowed to get away so they can take a peek at that horrible giant Fisher-Price synthesizer and watch the pretty UFO's dart about all dressed up in their finest Christmas season trim! I don't think so. If you're ever out in Vegas, take a run up to Groom Lake where you will likely be greeted very rudely if you trespass the signs that read "Lethal Force Authorized." That basically means shoot first and ask questions later. Good alternative to Disney for the kiddies. 4/10
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Another Memorable Spielberg Hit From the '70s
ccthemovieman-110 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.
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Strong emotional core that avoids Rockwell-esque sentimentality
bob the moo24 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.
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Top Ten reasons why this is NOT a great movie - or even a good one:
krumski12 May 2000
10) Francois Truffaut - I'm sorry, nothing against the guy personally, but Spielberg casting him in this movie was a mistake. At least without giving him a solid, intensive course in how to speak English. I don't mean to be so U.S.-centric, but come on - when one of your main characters has to have his every sentence translated, it gets awfully annoying, and calls undue attention to itself. A real "Special Edition" would have shown mercy for the audience and had his entire character edited out.

9) Terri Garr - Again, nothing against her, but this has to be, next to Willie Scott in Temple of Doom, the worst written female character in any Spielberg film. Ok, we're supposed to get that Roy Neary is becoming obsessed, moving dangerously away from his family - but how well served is that premise if his wife is such an unfeeling bitch from the get-go? We never see any kind of harmonious rapport between them, but neither are any marital problems examined or made clear to us. She's just the cardboard "bad guy" of the piece, and such two-dimensionality is cheap in a movie which purports to at least be partly about "real people." After all, Darth Vader or the Nazis make more enjoyable and less offensive villains than Teri Garr ever could. But her character is only symptomatic of a much bigger problem the film has, which leads directly to. . .

8) Who the hell ARE these people?! - And why are they so gosh-darned obsessed with UFOs. Why is it so important that Roy Neary get on that spaceship? Why is Melinda Dillon's kid - alone amongst the entire pre-adolescent population - singled out for abduction by the mysterious aliens? Why are all these seemingly normal people drawn to making replicas of that ooga-booga lookin' Devil's Tower? I mean, I know there's a place for dramatic ambiguity (hey, I love 2001!), but Steven can you at least throw us a bone? What is it about the particular people who are "invited" (in the words of Truffaut's interpreter) to see the alien landing that makes them so special? If Spielberg could have figured out some way to tie these peoples' emotional lives to the urge for extraterrestrial contact (as he did in E.T.) he might have had something powerful here. In the absence of any such clear link, however, all we get is a bunch of sound and fury (oh, and LIGHTS, too!) which ultimately signify nothing.

7) The funereal pace - Steve, yo Steve - who told you that you had to be so damn solemn about this whole thing? I guess, after Jaws, you were trying to prove that you could be SERIOUS, and WEIGHTY - and that translated inevitably as SLOW. Things take forever to happen in this movie - probably to cover up for the fact that not much does.

6) The "running up the mountain" sequence - Ok, this is perhaps a crass criticism, but am I the only one who noticed that Neary's and Jillian's escape to the top of Devil's Tower (against direct Army orders) could have made for a great action chase? In a movie, I might add, which desperately needs some action! A whole ten-minute cat and mouse game between Neary and co. and the Army helicopters in pursuit could have been a tour-de-force of style, tension and kineticism. You know, the kind Spielberg is known for. Instead, he just throws the sequence away. They get to the top of the mountain - end of story.

5) Mothership sequence lasts far too long, with no real payoff - Yeh, all those flashing lights were cool, and that five-note musical motif is ominous and haunting - but what of it? Ok, so the set pieces are in place for a great sequence, but. . . nothing really happens, does it? And, as with the rest of the movie, it takes so long for it not to happen, that you're numb about halfway through. This is where all the individual failures of the movie come together to lay one big colossal turd upon the viewer. Since we don't care about, or even understand, the characters we are cut off from their personal rapture at the landing; since the aliens' plans or general purpose is never articulated (or even suggested), there is no tension generated by wondering what they are going to do when they get here; and since the entire movie has been so deliberately slow and ponderous, this scene has to be even slower - you know, to show how important and climactic it is. What we're left with is a big sound and light show, nothing more. Anyone who's ever been to a Pink Floyd concert has seen it all before - and better.

Ah, I don't have the heart or the interest to continue with this list - anyway, you get the idea. Close Encounters so clearly wants to amaze and enrapture us, but it forgets that you do that best by engaging us with actual characters, making us care about them, and then leading them through a fantastic trip or quest where they find some kind of meaning. The movie has the quest part down, but neither the meaning nor the engaging characters. It's like, it believes that the suggestion of UFOs and other intelligent life in the universe by itself is enough to make us sit up and take notice. Well, it isn't. This movie lacks the zip and excitement of Star Wars on the one hand, and the philosophical/metaphysical speculation of 2001: A Space Odyssey on the other. From Spielberg's own canon, it is missing the fundamental heart and whimsy of E.T., as well as the strong interconnectedness of the main characters found in Poltergeist.

So what does it have? A ranting Frenchman, a shrewish wife, a rag-tag group of inexplicable characters, a deathly snail's pace, and a cheesy Disneyesque parade of bright lights and colors (Wow!). If that's your idea of a good time, then be my guest. You deserve every frame of this movie.
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Spielberg Directs Star Bores
Theo Robertson3 July 2005
This came close to breaking box office records when it was released in 1977 but for the life of me I have no idea why . I disliked this movie upon seeing on its British television premiere one Christmas ( In those days the only time you'd get to see a good movie on television was at Christmas or Easter ) in the early 1980s and after seeing it again earlier today I now know why I disliked it - It was directed by Steven Spielberg I'm sorry to be a heretic but has there ever been a more overrated director ? With CLOSE ENCOUNTERS we see all the flaws of Spielberg's work

1 ) Shot duration - Notice how the camera stays locked onto a scene ? Take for example a scene early in the film where the Neary family make small talk ? There's no inter cutting in the scene as the camera holds still for a couple of minutes . I may be wrong but it might in fact be shorter than a couple of minutes but feels far longer . There doesn't seem to be a single scene in the whole movie that doesn't suffer from this flaw which means the entire film feels painfully longer than it actually is . To give you an idea of how bad this is cast your mind back to the first time you saw the special edition . Didn't you ask yourself if there was any difference between the original and special editions ? I know I did , and compare the special edition of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS to the special edition of ALIENS or the extended releases of LORD OF THE RINGS and you'll realise the original version of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is a very badly edited movie that suffers from overlong shot duration and most of Spielberg's other movies , especially AI , suffer from this directorial flaw

2 ) The score - I can understand Spielberg rehiring John Williams after the superb work the composer did with JAWS but if he did such a good job with JAWS why did Spielberg allow him to get away with a mediocre score here ? The alien spaceship theme is memorable but the other music in the film is very irritating because despite being intrusive it fails to convey what the audience should be feeling and eventually sounds like an orchestral dirge . It's also interesting to note that while Hans Zimmer and Howard Shore are head and shoulders above Williams as a composer Spielberg still continues to hire him for every film he directs and I've no idea why . This movie should have ended the partnership

3 ) Mawkish family sentiment - Being a Spielberg movie means we have to endure American apple pie family scenes and my god it's an endurance . Living in Scotland I fail to connect with these middle American families but I guess if you live in middle America you'd probably fail to recognise these type of characters also . I notice Spielberg's latest release WAR OF THE WORLDS has shoehorned an American family into the narrative when the original novel worked well enough without an American dad and daughter

Sorry if you're reading this Steven , I hope this criticism hasn't ruined my career as a Hollywood screenwriter and I realise that it's not entirely your fault since a movie about benign aliens isn't going to impress a lot of critics so lets blame the producers . I mean we see people being abducted by alien spaceships which was the premise of UFO . Despite the overall flaws of that Gerry Anderson series the idea of aliens abducting humans so they can steal their organs is a scary and compelling idea . Unfortunately there's no such horrible goings on here as we're treated to a happy ending . Likewise the government conspiracies of keeping alien contacts secret is very twee after seeing numerous episodes of THE X FILES , in this movie nosy people don't meet a violent death at the hands of government spooks

Can you imagine how much better this film might have been if it had been produced as UFO meets THE X FILES ? In fact it'd probably have increased Spielberg's standing amongst a lot of people including myself . But as it stands I think this movie is summed up best as STAR BORES
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A terrific movie about alien contact.
barnabyrudge20 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.
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Didn't like it
I looked so forward watching CEOFTK as everyone had nothing but the best to say about it, but watching it, was nothing but disappointment.

From the first 15 minutes I was bored and the rest did not satisfy me to the extent that I found it hard to stay concentrated till the end.

It seems a movie starting nowhere and going nowhere, no plot no story just randomness.

I know most people will disagree but the bottom line is I am not watching this movie ever again.
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Great sci-fi
RovingGambler3 September 2006
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the story about a man who has a close encounter with aliens. However, no one seems to believe that it really happened except a woman who's son was abducted. They both have a similar vision apparently put in their minds by the aliens, and they set off together to go meet up with the aliens one more time.

I've never been a huge Spielberg fan. Sure, he's made some good movies, but I just never saw anything real great about most of his movies. That is, until I saw Close Encounters of the Third Kind. This movie had me so entranced in the story that the 2 hours and 15 minutes flew by. I'm not even a big sci-fi type of guy. The cinematography, acting, music score, and directing are all top-notch. The special effects, although obviously sub-par by today's standards, were phenomenal when released in 1977 and is still good enough to not make the movie look cheesy by today's standards.
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How an incredibly boring movie with no plot can still make lots of money
david-sarkies18 November 2011
Warning: Spoilers
When I come to this movie I ask myself two questions: what is the point of it and is it here just to show off special effects. The answer that I come up with is: there is none and yes. I haven't seen this movie seen I was a kid and the only thing I could remember was a scene where a number of spaceships fly over a road and a small boy cries out "Icecream". I really only watched this movie for the special effects, and one must say that for the time, the effects were very good. Watching it now, I just think that it is Spielburg saying, "hey, look how much money I can spend on a pointless movie." This movie indeed has not real point or plot. What seems to be happening is that machinery that has disappeared, allegedly because of alien abductions, is now appearing around the world. Then there are some strange lights appearing over Idaho and this kid runs out of the house and stands on a road as space ships fly over. There are a number of other people here as well. One of them is a guy that ends up losing his wife and kids because of this experience. Personally that scene just made me sick because it revealed the problems with marriage, people think it is great until they hit the first obstacle, and then marriage is horrid. People simply don't take note of the marriage vows anymore – to be with that person through all manner of hardships. The breakup of this marriage is simply pathetic.

All these people have been implanted with the knowledge of a mountain where the aliens are going to land. The army also knows of this place and forces everybody else out. Two people manage to get there though, even though the army tries to stop them by using a nerve gas scare and then sleeping gas. When they reach the place, the aliens appear in a huge ship that makes the mountain looks small, they speak with music (even though I doubt the humans actually know what is being said), and then the aliens return their abducties (all Americans), another lot are sent on board, we have a look inside the mothership and the movie ends.

From this synopsis there seems to be a big indication that there is no point to this movie. In my comments of this movie, I am probably going very much against what the critics say, but I seriously feel that this movie is long winded, dull, and pointless. It is not pointless in the existentialist style, but pointless in that it seriously has a non-existence plot. It is a movie simply made to show off special effects, and even Jurasic Park had more of a plot to it than this. There is the government conspiracy in this movie, but is still leads to a pointless ending. The boy is abducted by aliens, but why did the aliens take an interest in him in the first place? There is no answer to this and I feel that this was only done for some scene.

No, I do not like this movie. It may be quoted as a Steven Spielburg masterpiece, but I refuse to say that it is. It probably didn't flop, but that is because people were dazzled with the special effects. What is interesting though is that at the time of the creation of this movie, we have the government coverups. Cover-ups never came into constant use until the late 80's and the 90's so it is interesting to see it used here. The cover up is not as evil as it is in such movies as Conspiracy Theory or series like the X-files, but it is used. Possible it deals with the distrust of the government after Watergate, but moreso it is seen as for the publics safety rather than anything else.

There are no antagonists here, except maybe the army, and they are not portrayed in a genuinely evil light either. Rather they have their goals and they don't want people around to see it. Personally I think this is a movie that can be missed. There is a special edition that I saw, which means that it is longer and more boring than the original.
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absolutely not worth watching.
wcaccami14 February 2006
The Romans certainly knew what they were saying when they coined the phrase: " de gustibus non est desputandum ". Most of the initial reviews of this aged film are favorable. Several of the later reviews express my opinion - a movie not worth watching. It is a mystery to me that such an outdated product continues to maintain a strong following. But again, " concerning tastes, there is no dispute ". I viewed this slow, boring film from my exercise bike. Pedaling was more exciting than what I was watching on the TV screen. During the first several minutes of the movie, the dialogue was difficult to hear and thus, to understand. The unnecessary noir aspect of many of the scenes- actually, a lack of illumination of the ambiance - made it difficult to see the actors in action. Again, if you like films of this theme, I suggest that you spend your viewing time with something more up to date - especially in effects.
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poorly made, painfully slow, Spielberg's greatest failure
nbates2 March 2001
While I do respect Spielberg's talent in certain (but not all) of his later films, he had a rough start in his directing career.

The cinematography is mediocre at best. It is filmed in a very plain and standard fashion. The camera rarely moves except for the most basic following takes. Most of the takes are framed in the same bland manner. The camera is never used in a creative way. You get the impression Spielberg just set up a camera, about head height, said 'go', and let the actors do their thing, rather than paying attention to how he was portraying his scenes.

The acting nothing special. Emotionless government workers, unconvincing family tension, weakly portrayed feelings of wonder and amazement. The motivation of the characters is rarely visible through their expressions or voices.

The plot was thread-bare and predictable. I never once felt that the main characters' would fail on their mission, or wondered what I would see at the end. Rarely have I seen a movie take so long to tell so little. The movie has an annoying habit of constantly pretending as if it were building up to something, and leaving you wondering whether anything dramatic will actually happen. There are few explanations of the events, apparently for the failed goal of making the film 'mysterious'.

The dialog was stiff and agonizingly cliche. The scripting bears the shallow markings of the other films which Spielberg helped write.

The effect were embarrassing. Nearly every effect relied on simple red and blue lights. In some scenes the only effect was a red light shining through a window or a grate. The UFOs were nothing more than red, blue and sometimes white (how alien) light bulbs dangling on strings. Sometimes two at a time, sometimes in threes. The grand finale involves lots of these little light bulbs and something that looked like an upside down christmas tree without the tree (just the light bulbs). The large 'spaceship' (a painfully obvious model) then engages in a tacky game of Simon says with the Earth scientists. The 'alien' reminds you of an arthritic, anorexic muppet. The ending is no different than any other Sci-Fi B-movie. Pitifully predictable ending, and laughable effects. For anyone who ignorantly claims that the effects were good for their time, I would like to point out that this came out the same year as Star Wars.

Overall the film had a feel of pretending to be epic, while really telling a superficial and unconvincing tale. The only reason anyone even remembers this film is the popularity of it's topic (frequently the case for Spielberg), not for the films ability to impact the viewer. It was neither visually nor emotionally engaging. It lacked any signs of creativity or talent. A failure in every aspect.
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An encounter to avoid
rose_lily4 March 2013
This movie is a hoax on the viewer⎯ a promise of thrilling revelations, which never materialize. Spielberg has put together an unrelenting progression of "teasers," cinematic high jinks of flashing celestial lights building an anticipation that leads ultimately nowhere. This faux suspense is interspersed by the angst of a mundane suburban family counterpointed by scenes of dry officious scientists and authority figures declaiming theories and statistics. As with the majority of Steven Spielberg's work (an exception being the powerful masterpiece, "Schindler's List") this is a film constructed to appeal to the sensibilities and maturity level of teenage boys. The action/adventure genre has a legitimate place in movie making, yet this Spielberg effort falls flat on both counts. This is an incredibly boring movie.
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