Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

DVD Rating: ***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Read Scott Macdonald's film review of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind
Close Encounters Of The Third Kind

Sci-fi and fantasy fans have been in for a treat in the last quarter of 2007, although in terms of quality the 'ultimate editions' of several 'classics' have varied wildly, from the distinctly poor offering of Poltergeist to the exhaustive edition of Blade Runner.

Steven Spielberg's alien extravaganza falls somewhere between the two in terms of quality. First, the good news. All three of the film's cuts are presented here - including the original 1977 version which - aside from a Criterion Collection laserdisc - has never been issued previously on home video. The 'original' - described by Spielberg as a "work in progress"; the 'special edition' - most notable for taking us aboard the alien spacecraft and adding in a scene of Richard Dreyfuss's Roy losing it completely in the shower, plus a wonderfully forced perspective shot of the Cotopaxi freighter beached in the desert; and the Director's Cut - a combination of the two, which sees Steven snip off the interior of the spacecraft shots are subtle variations on a theme, rather than containing the swinging changes in Ridley Scott's opus. Subtle they may be, but this is a box set for completists, and each film has been digitally remastered for the occasion.

Copy picture

The versions look as good as can be expected considering the age of the film and the sound has nothing to grumble about.

When it comes to additional material, there is quite a lot here... but many existing fans may be left disappointed in that most of it has had an outing before - on the double disc special edition of a few years ago.

The Making Of documentary, however, deserves rewatching, being one of the most comprehensive I have come across and featuring all the key players, including Spielberg, Dreyfuss, Teri Garr and a host of technical crew members. Stretching to more than an hour and a half, it has been carved into three across the discs, sensibly cut between a segment on the preparations for the film, the actual shooting and the aftermath, including comments on the special edition.

Also familiar to owners of the Special Edition, will be the Watch The Skies extra, a six-minute puff piece which dates from 1977, when the film was made.

New to this edition, however, is an excellent additional 21-minute interview with Steven Spielberg, entitled 30 Years Of Close Encounters. It's interesting to view this in the light of his comments down the years and it seems he is now much more sceptical about the whole UFO phenomenon, noting that sightings have diminished since the advent of camcorders. He also pledges there "will not be a fourth version".

Rounding out the package are a couple of trailers and a rather disappointing booklet which appears to have been culled from - sometimes shaky - information found on the internet. For example, it states that Spielberg has five children, which is rather misleading. He actually has seven - a son from his first marriage, plus three kids from his second marriage, plus two who are adopted and a stepson from his second wife, Kate Capshaw's, marriage to Robert Capshaw. Since he actually makes reference to his "seven kids" in the making of documentary this shows particularly shoddy fact-checking on the part of Sony.

Grumbles aside, however, this is definitely a set worth having - particularly if you didn't invest in the Special Edition. Those considering opting for it on Blu-ray will get more bang for their buck, including deleted scenes, storyboard comparisons and galleries and a feature highlighting the, often very subtle, differences between the editions.

Reviewed on: 14 Dec 2007
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Close Encounters Of The Third Kind packshot
Spielberg's sci-fi extravaganza about first contact with aliens.
Amazon link

Product Code: CDR26501CE

Region: 2

Ratio: 2.35:1

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 DTS, Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Steven Spielberg: 30 Years Of Close Encounters, Making Of Documentary, Watch The Skies Featurette, trailers, glossy booklet

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