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Customer Review

on 20 May 2013
Steven Spielberg directed two films in 1982 - E.T. was one, this was the other. A controversial statement, given that Spielberg officially only produced the film - Tobe Hooper, of Texas Chain Saw Massacre fame took the director's credit - but the evidence says otherwise. Spielberg himself made some unguarded comments around the time the film was released, suggesting that the producer-director creative relationship was heavily biased towards himself (he ended up writing an open letter of apology to Hooper). Several cast members recall that Spielberg was often on set making creative decisions - directing the film in other words, with Hooper's role virtually reduced to that of a technician - and when you consider that Spielberg wrote the story and the screenplay, it's easy to believe that he was the de facto director. In the end, the evidence is up on the screen for all to see: the slow build-up of tension, skilful direction of the child characters and use of Jerry Goldsmith's score to pack an emotional punch could only have come from one man. In my opinion this is 90% a Spielberg film. The special effects, another Spielberg hallmark, are state-of-the-art 1982 but still look impressive now. This blu-ray release is a surprising but welcome HD makeover, bringing another piece of 80's cinematic fluff back to life. The transfer is sharp and colourful, and a massive improvement over the ropey R1 DVD. (I don't have the R2 to compare it to - the R1 was an early double-sided release with widescreen and pan & scan versions, and so didn't benefit from the extra space of a double-layer transfer.) The Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is a welcome bonus and does justice to the sound effects throughout the film - remember to select it from the menu options as the disc defaults to the Dolby Digital track. Overall a solid if unexceptional thriller, and a worthy purchase if only for the intrigue over the director's credit. Watch it alongside E.T. and make your own mind up.
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