Anthony's Film Review

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

Steven Spielberg's 1977 sci-fi movie does make us curious about extraterrestrials...

Close Encounters of the Third Kind isn't so much about an alien invasion as about UFO sightings. What do I mean by this? Well, I'm referring to fear versus curiosity. When it comes to science-fiction, one type of story that is commonly seen in the genre involves hostile extraterrestrials that are out to exterminate the humans, like The War of the Worlds. But there's another kind of science-fiction with aliens, involving the wonder of seeing for the first time a species that has come far away from Earth. That's what director Steven Spielberg does with Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

Of course, even with that kind of sci-fi story, there is still some degree of mystery and even suspense. In the beginning, several strange occurrences take place: the discovery of planes that went missing decades before, even though the pilots are still gone; a strange sighting by commercial airlines pilots, as heard by an air traffic controller; a boy's toys functioning on their own; and an electrical outage affecting an entire city. Parts of the movie clearly provide an overview of many different people observing different things. Other times, the movie focuses on two specific sets of characters.

One includes an electrical lineman named Roy, played by Richard Dreyfuss, along with his wife and three kids. He is the one who is asked to look into fixing the power outage. On the way, while driving his truck, he has a close encounter with a UFO. He is surrounded by bright lights while objects in his truck are flying around and the radio seems to have a mind of its own. Later on, he witnesses, with his own eyes, a few flying vehicles that are clearly not made by humans.

The other character who is closely followed is the boy I mentioned above. Three-year-old Barry is an adorable and curious little toddler who is easily amused by new sights but does not understand the concept of danger. As the audience, we become fearful like Barry's mother as he wanders away from their house. In the middle of the movie, there is a scary scene where the mother locks the doors and windows of their house to protect the boy from an approaching UFO. Despite that, there are strange lights outside the house, and various things are constantly shifted and thrown around by some invisible force.

The movie eventually brings the characters to a single place. Apparently, with the presence of the UFOs, many people find themselves with visions and thoughts of two things. One is the image of a tall mountain. The other is a five-note musical tune, which is a theme for this movie. The final revelation in the last several minutes of the movie is one that generates a sense of wonder and curiosity and leaves us smiling once the credits roll.

Overall, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is not bad, and Steven Spielberg certainly provides something fairly original to the science-fiction genre.

Anthony's Rating:

For more information about Close Encounters of the Third Kind, visit the Internet Movie Database.


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