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Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Two-Disc 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition) [Blu-ray]
30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition, Ultimate Edition
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Steven Spielberg's classic film is back now on this never-before-released Ultimate Edition DVD, which includes all three versions of the sci-fi blockbuster. Richard Dreyfuss stars as cable worker Roy Neary, who along with several other stunned bystanders experience a close encounter of the first kind - witnessing UFOs soaring across the sky. After this life-changing event, the inexplicable vision of a strange, mountain-like formation haunts him. He becomes obsessed with discovering what it represents, much to the dismay of his wife and family. Meanwhile, bizarre occurrences are happening around the world. Government agents have close encounters of the second kind - discovering physical evidence of extraterrestrial visitors in the form of a lost fighter aircraft from World War II and a stranded military ship that disappeared decades earlier only to suddenly reappear in unusual places. Roy continues to chase his vision to a remote area where he and the agents follow the clues that have drawn them to reach a site where they will have a close encounter of the third kind - contact.
Anybody who has written him off because of his string of stinkers--or anybody who's too young to remember The Goodbye Girl--may be shocked at the accomplishment and nuance of Richard Dreyfuss's performance in Close 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 Encounters now 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 Encounters comes 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
Extensive Photo Gallery
A View From Above
Close Encounters of the Third Kind Making of Documentary
1977 Featurette "Watch the Skies"
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As everyone knows, there are two types of Blu-Ray editions of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". One is the 30th anniversary box set, which includes the three versions of the movie (Theatrical, Special Edition and Director's Cut) on one disc; a plethora of bonus features on the second; and a booklet (the 3-disc DVD version of the set contains one version on one disc each, a making-of documentary scattered on all the discs, and the rest of the bonus features on the director's cut disc). The other is the cheaper, newly released "Blu-Ray Essentials" version, which only contains the first disc of all the three versions but no booklet and zero bonus features (except for the Blu-Ray exclusive "A View from Above" feature, whose main purpose is to show viewers the difference between all three versions).
The reason I'm addressing this is because some Amazon.com reviewers (including myself) have expressed dismay over buying the wrong edition. Unlike these reviewers, I am not entirely angered by this since I already have the 30th anniversary edition on DVD and that I bought the "Essentials" version just to upgrade to Blu-Ray (it also helped that it was on sale for a meager $7). But I can understand the frustrations looming in the reviews section and I wish Amazon would have notified this and state the differences.
If you're going to upgrade to Blu-Ray and want to learn the history behind "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", it's highly recommended you buy the 30th Anniversary box set. However, if you just want to buy "Close Encounters" primarily for the picture and audio quality and have no care for the extras, the "Blu-Ray Essentials" version will serve you well. It also helps that it's much cheaper than the other set (at least, at this moment).
Either way, this movie is a dazzler on Blu-Ray. Columbia did a phenomenal job restoring "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in its best condition. The picture quality is superb and the audio is dazzling, particularly on the surround sound speakers. Some reviewers complained about the existence of grain, but this movie was shot on celluloid, not digital photography, so, of course, the grain is inevitable. Even so, it shouldn't distract from the incredible experience you'll have while watching this terrific movie on Blu-Ray and with a big screen TV. When the alien mothership lands on the Devil's Tower in the movie's climax, you'll feel the experience like no other in the previous VHS and DVD versions.
"Close Encounters of the Third Kind" belongs in every movie collection and now thanks to Blu-Ray, it looks and sounds better than ever. If you are hesitant to replace your DVD player with a Blu-Ray player, then this version of this film should force your hand.
I have always been impressed with the actors and actresses who gave life to the characters in the movie. The one that has always impressed me is the character "Barry" (played fantastically by Cary Guffey!); that, and the way writer/director Steven Spielberg was able to get the responses needed from Cary. I know, from reading on the web, that Mr. Guffey doesn't want to be remembered only for his role in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"; this, I can understand. I have to say, though, that he did a hell of a job!
The story itself, is interesting and inspiring; the music enchanting and moving, and the locations were impressive. And, now, I can enjoy it whenever I choose! For those of you who loved this movie, I probably haven't said enough. For those who hated it, no words of mine can ever change your opinion.
I, however, will be most happy with this purchase!
The cast performances are spectacular all around, from the leads (Richard Dreyfus and Melinda Dillon) to the supporting characters (especially Bob Balaban and Teri Garr), there is not a weak link. You owe it to yourself to watch this movie.
Generally, everything looks fine. The Blu-Ray is a definite 90% improvement, but there are scenes that don't really look much better that the original DVD.
This movie has always been hampered by the highly compressed nature of the audio, especially the score. Unfortunately, what we have here is no improvement. You would think that with all of the effort that goes into so-called "ultimate" versions, they could have gone in to touch-up some of the film's score. Case in point, is over the end credits. Compare what you hear with John Williams recording with the Boston Pops which includes the new material from the Special Edition version. By Request: The Best Of John Williams And The Boston Pops Orchestra The difference is stunning. But, alas...
There is one downside (and I admit that this is probably nit-picking) but Criterion's CAV laserdisc version was so wonderful since one could program (edit) the movie into what I (!) felt was the ultimate version. With all 3 versions on the Blu-Ray, frankly, I do not find one to be completely satisfying. If we only had the original version, there would be no issue; nothing to compare, too. But, with 3 versions, one sees things that could have been improved to make (what I think) is a true ultimate version. But, again, alas...
I love this movie. The excitement and sense of wonder has always given me goosebumps. If you have a Blu-Ray, right now, this is the only version to own.
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