CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977) [quick] review

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It’s the 40th anniversary of the film’s release, so of course I needed to see this.

To be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve seen this movie all the way through. Oh, I remember bits and pieces here and there, but I don’t think I’ve sat through the whole thing. Well, even if I have, it definitely wasn’t in the last few years. Hell, probably not even the last decade. Who knows? In any case, it’s a Spielberg classic and those should be treasured no matter what.

I’m not even sure if I remember what the movie is about. I know, aliens, but that’s too easy. I think Earth made contact with some aliens who are on their way and the planet is kind of panicking. One specific family man is particularly affected when he starts seeing important shapes, goes a little crazy… exactly how far off the mark am I? In any case, I have to take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to see this movie in the cinemas.

Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Richard Dreyfuss, known for PIRANHA 3D (2010), JAWS (1975), and AMERICAN GRAFFITI (1973). In support we have Teri Garr (DUMB AND DUMBER [1994], TOOTSIE [1982], and YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN [1974]), Bob Balaban (THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL [2014], NO RESERVATIONS [2007], and LADY IN THE WATER [2006]), Lance Henriksen (ALIENS [1986], THE TERMINATOR [1984], and video game MASS EFFECT 3 [2012]), and in a bit role, Carl Weathers (HAPPY GILMORE [1996], PREDATOR [1987], and ROCKY [1976]).

Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Steven Spielberg, known for THE BFG (2016), MINORITY REPORT (2002), JURASSIC PARK (1993), and upcoming films READY PLAYER ONE (2018), and the untitled Indiana Jones movie (2020). Composing the score is the legendary John Williams, known for THE BFG, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (2004), TOM SAWYER (1973), and upcoming films STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI (2017) and STAR WARS: EPISODE IX (2019). Finally, the cinematographer is Vilmos Zsigmond, known for THE BLACK DAHLIA (2006), MAVERICK (1994), and THE DEER HUNTER (1978).

Overall, I’m pretty excited for this. Of course, I never got to experience this in the theaters and I intend to check that off of my list.

This is my honest opinion of: CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

(SUMMARY)

The story follows Roy (Richard Dreyfuss), a typical family man with a beautiful wife and three children, who experiences something that’s anything but typical: he encounters an alien UFO. And he’s not the only one. Strange occurrences have been cropping up all over the world and a desperate game begins with government people in trying to understand the aliens’ strange musical communication. But Roy’s life begins to take a turn as he keeps seeing a specific shape that consumes him and desperately tries to understand its significance.

(QUICK REVIEW)

I am so glad I took the opportunity to see this. This was a great movie.

Like anything early Spielberg, he does a phenomenal job of capturing the imagination. As dated as someone may want to claim this movie to be, the visual aesthetic is unique enough to set itself apart. The spaceship designs, their red and blue color schemes, even their interactions with humans hasn’t been repeated. And don’t point out ARRIVAL (2016) because that’s a whole league of it’s own, or MONSTERS VS. ALIENS (2009), which annoyingly satirized CLOSE ENCOUNTERS.

And I know I don’t usually comment on something like this, but the score is amazing. So simple, and yet so beautiful in both melody and context of what the music stands for. Before the movie started, we were treated to a few interviews and I remember someone who worked behind the scenes mentioned that the music is representative of how art and culture is universal in understanding one another, which can give you a lot of hope. That’s the beauty of this film. It’s all encompassing. It offers hope to make you smile and feel good. There’s scenes that aren’t afraid to be scary. After all, these aliens come out of nowhere and do little more than make things move, place long-missing aircrafts and ships in random locations, and abduct children with no real warning or reason. There’s quirky comedy, like when Roy is ripping up his house to construct the Devil’s Tower during the peak of his obsession over its importance. Throwing plants into his house, shovels full of dirt, it’s all done hilariously remarkable. I think my favorite gag was in the beginning when a vehicle approaches his truck and he’s waving the driver to pass him by, but then the vehicle hovers upward and that’s when Roy encounters his first alien spaceship.

***SPOILERS***

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I think my only real issue is the ending. I understand Roy’s obsession. I empathized with what was happening to him. I even understand why he sacrificed his relationship with his family in order to get answers to what this is and why it’s happening to him. And once he figures it all out, he goes on a quest to find out what’s so important about the Devil’s Tower and bares witness to the alien arrival and all that. A smaller issue I took is where that kiss between Roy and Jillian (Melinda Dillon) came from. There wasn’t ever an indication that they shared romantic feelings, so that kiss comes from nowhere. But the biggest problem is why Roy leaves to go on the mothership. I mean, okay, a once in a lifetime opportunity to go with aliens for whatever reasons, what sci-fi nerd wouldn’t take that opportunity? But… he sort of throws up a middle finger to his wife and kids, doesn’t he? Not even considering them in any decision he makes. As far as we know, he still loves love them and whatever issues they have aren’t technically irreparable. By going with them, his family likely doesn’t have the slightest idea of what happened to him and he leaves no word of any kind to them. That’s… a dick move.

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***END SPOILERS***

Overall, it’s hard to say much about this flick. It’s one of those movies that you experience, not really think about. It’s a film so full of wonder and fills your mind with endless possibilities, and if Spielberg ever had a calling card, that’d be it. It’s a beautifully done film and should be shown to any kid to broaden their imagination, and any adult wanting to relive this incredible piece of cinematic gold. Don’t miss out on seeing this, folks. It’s only out for one week, so jump at it while you can.

My honest rating for CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND:  a strong 4/5

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