has an average rating of 7.8 on IMDb
1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50gb disc
DTS-HD 5.1 & Dolby TrueHD 5.1
include a NEW Spielberg interview
– 135 / 132 / 137 minutes
Overall Verdict – Fans Will Be Somewhat Pleased
— Review written by Justin Sluss
The Movie Itself is most importantly the second major motion picture from legendary Director Steven Spielberg who also wrote the script to the film as well. He did this film in 1977 with Columbia Pictures. This film turned out to be one of the most influential Science Fiction films of it’s time aside from obviously “2001: A Space Odyssey” (released in 1968) by Stanley Kubrick which most likely served somewhat of an influence to Spielberg‘s film. This film takes on the whole close encounter with “extra-terrestrials” to a more realistic (rather than futuristic) level that “2001” did. This takes place in the present time period (that being 1977 when it was filmed) and most importantly on earth. This isn’t as much Science Fiction as it is as Spielberg himself even calls it “Science Speculation.”
Things start us off with scientists researching some strange events happening across the world. It’s clearly something “not of this world” responsible for the events and this becomes rather obvious soon in the film (as you’d expect with the title). The film stars Richard Dreyfuss as an average blue-collared worker named “Roy Neary.” Roy‘s job is that of an electrical lineman so when strange phenomenon starts causing a power outage he’s called to go investigate. In the process of trying to do his job, Roy has a “close encounter” (of the first kind to be exact) with the cause of the power outage as well as do some other people. This event is life-changing to our main character and his family eventually. It comes to the point where he feels haunted by this mountain-like image and fixated on finding out what it means. This film not only tells the story of our main character Roy but also what the Government is doing during this as well as a woman who’s small child has been abducted. This leads up to them all having one huge “close encounter” of the third kind which means contact.
This is an absolutely brilliant Science Fiction film and it changed the way we look at the genre and the night sky. This has always personally been one of my favorite films of all-time so I’m rather happy to say, now the film comes to us in a 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition 2-disc set on Blu-ray Disc. The release contains 3 different versions of the film on one 50 gigabyte Blu-ray Disc (BD-50). To combine all 3 versions of the film (Theatrical / Special Edition / Director’s Cut) on one disc they use a process known as “seamless branching.”
The first version of the film included is the original “Theatrical” cut (135 minutes) which was released theatrically in 1977. This version was never released to home video prior to this release. The second version of the film included is the “Special Edition” (132 minutes) which was released both theatrically and on VHS in 1980. In this version Spielberg actually deleted several smaller scenes and in turn added new sequences like the scene with Richard Dreyfuss boarding the alien mother ship at the end of the film. The third encounter (or version) of the film included is “The Director’s Cut” (137 minutes and originally titled “The Collector’s Edition“) which was released in 1998 on home video and in a limited theatrical run. In this version Spielberg made some small subtle changes and decided to remove the scene I spoke of earlier with Dreyfuss boarding the alien mother ship. This in doing so restored the film’s original ending. This release marks two firsts, The first classic Steven Spielberg film to be released in High Definition and the first time all 3 of these versions have been released to home video.
Video Quality on this release is 1080p in AVC MPEG-4 on a 50 gigabyte Dual-Layered Blu-ray Disc. When I first initially saw this being demoed at the “Blu-ray Lounge” at “Blu-ray Festival” last month in Los Angeles I’ll have to admit I wasn’t very impressed. In fact I mentioned my opinion of the video quality to a girl from Sony who told me that the High Definition master was approved by Spielberg. She even went a tad bit into detail. According to her they (Sony) had it sent to Spielberg on the set of the new “Indiana Jones” film he’s Directing. She said he approved it and now it’s on Blu-ray Disc which makes it the first Spielberg film to come to High Definition on either format. Now my opinions of the video once I’ve got to watch the final product several times.
“Close Encounters” is a 30-year-old film as you can tell by the subtitle to the release and the film has held up rather well. The High Def transfer isn’t totally perfect as it contains some obvious film grain as you’d expect and some slight artifact/pixilation problems at times. This does look a whole hell of a lot better than what I saw being demoed last month at “Blu-ray Festival.” The black level is pretty solid, flesh tones are fine and the overall color palette really seems to be fine especially later in the film when the “Mothership” is shown. The film truly has never looked better and this is overall a very nice High Def video presentation of the film that certainly surpasses all of the prior home video releases of the film to-date. I’d also like to say I’m very impressed with the use of the “seamless branching” to include the 3 different versions of the film without any compression problems becoming an issue.
Audio Quality on this release is in both next-generation High Fidelity surround formats, DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD 5.1 which is very impressive to see. With a film like this first thing I have to say is the Score by John Williams comes across absolutely amazing in both 5.1 mixes. The rear channel presence is very active and there’s a good amount of dynamic range but it seems to be suffering just a tad bit from the age of the sound material or something. This isn’t by any means that bothersome to cause a problem in the listening experience.
There are several scenes, especially the one when Dreyfuss (Roy) has his first “close encounter“). That scene is sure to rock your room literally if you’re using a pretty decent sub woofer. This mix does seem to really be about equal in terms of the DTS-HD versus the TrueHD. I love the fact that Sony decided to do a first here by including both formats. In the past we would have probably seen a PCM and TrueHD track but now we get something a little different. I would have liked to seen a PCM track in honesty but given the dated material I’m not too sure if it would have been worth it. Overall the audio quality is a large improvement over the DTS found on the latest DVD release of the film (“The Collector’s Edition“).
Bonus Materials are primarily presented on the 2nd Blu-ray Disc included in this set. The 1st Blu-ray Disc includes a feature called “A View From Above” that will tell you what scenes have been added and etc. All bonus material that I list as presented in HD is in 1080i/p High Def 16:9 (Widescreen) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound and all material that I list as presented in SD is 480p Standard Definition 16:9 (Widescreen) with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound.
- “Steven Spielberg: 30 Years of Close Encounters” (21 minutes) presented in HD is an all-new interview with the legendary Director about the film. This proves worth watching but most of the things Spielberg mentions in this he has discussed before in past interviews. It is nice to see a semi-lengthy interview like this in High Def I will admit. This is definitely cool.
- “The Making of Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (101 minutes) presented in SD is an extremely lengthy “making of” featurette sure to please new fans of the film.
- “Watch the Skies” (6 minutes) presented in HD is a newly restored retro documentary short on the film. This doesn’t really prove to be that informative but it is cool to see something this vintage turned into High Def.
- “In the desert” (49 seconds)
- “Roy on the job” (4 minutes)
- “Roy gets directions” (1 minute)
- “At the airport” (4 minutes)
- “At the police station” (1 minute)
- “At the barbecue” (2 minutes)
- “At the gas station” (2 minutes)
- “On the roof” (55 seconds)
- “English lessons” (1 minute)
- “Storyboard Comparison“
- “Storyboard Galleries“
- “Location Scouting Pictures“
- “Mothership Drawings by Ralph McQuarrie“
- “Behind the Scenes“
- “Production Team“
- “Portrait Gallery“
- “Marketing: Original Theatrical Release“
- “Special Edition“
- “Original Version” (6 minutes)
- “Special Edition” (2 minutes)
- “The Ultimate Edition” (1 minute)