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Lunch » Tags » Movie » Reviews » Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Two-Disc Collector's Edition) (1977) » User review

Most overrated Spielberg movie

  • Sep 27, 2001
I LOVE Spielberg, please don't get me wrong. I even kinda liked this movie when I first saw it all those many years ago. But we watched it with our kids (13 & 8) in the year 2000 and they hated it, and frankly, I dozed off myself. Science fiction is the hardest genre to keep fresh for generations, for obvious reasons, but some core elements of film-making never go out of style.

It feels so self-important and plodding. The pace is slow and the special effects no longer have the power to stun. And the movie doesn't really surprise. There is no ultimate mystery to the plot. Yes, one might wonder what the aliens are like, but we never doubt that they're there, that Dreyfuss will get to see them and that nothing bad will happen. The movie never builds up any truly engrossing tension. We feel safe throughout, and wouldn't you think that the world, getting ready to see aliens for the first time, would feel more frightened (and the viewer more frightened)?

It's fun to hear the "alien theme" music again, and Richard Dreyfuss is very good. But Francois Truffaut?? Why did Speilberg cast him? He's usually so assured with his ununsual casting choices (Anthony Hopkins as John Quincy Adams? Great idea! Roy Scheider in Jaws? Oprah Winfrey in Color Purple? He's so often gone with unknowns or unusual choices and we've usually been SO pleasantly surprised).

I don't want to dwell on this too much, but CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is a piece of movie history, but sadly, not a living, breathing one.

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Ranked #147
I've got my own site, www.afilmcritic.com, on which I'm posting my reviews. I am 46 years old, married 25 years, two kids (23 & 18) and currently work in accounting/finance. I spent 15 years … more
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About this movie


Anybody who has written him off because of his string of stinkers--or anybody who's too young to rememberThe Goodbye Girl--may be shocked at the accomplishment and nuance of Richard Dreyfuss's performance inClose Encounters of the Third Kind. Here, he plays a man possessed; contacted by aliens, he (along with other members of the "chosen") is drawn toward the site of the incipient landing: Devil's Tower, in rural Wyoming. As in many Spielberg films, there are no personalized enemies; the struggle is between those who have been called and a scientific establishment that seeks to protect them by keeping them away from the arriving spacecraft. The ship, and the special effects in general, are every bit as jaw-dropping on the small screen as they were in the theater (well, almost). Released in 1977 as a cerebral alternative to the swashbuckling science fiction epics then in vogue,Close Encountersnow seems almost wholesome in its representation of alien contact and interested less in philosophizing about extraterrestrials than it is in examining the nature of the inner "call." Ultimately a motion picture about the obsession of the driven artist or determined visionary,Close Encounterscomes complete with the stock Spielberg wives and girlfriends who seek to tether the dreamy, possessed protagonists to the more mundane concerns of the everyday. So a spectacular, seminal motion picture indeed, but one with gender politics that are all too terrestrial.--Miles Bethany
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Director: Steven Spielberg
DVD Release Date: May 29, 2001
Runtime: 137 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures
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