Category: Sci-Fi


Once upon a time, an imaginative guy mulled “What if there are creatures on other planets who decide to come to Planet earth someday”; and thus was born an absolutely new genre of Alien movies where creatures from the far invaded and harassed us. Not long after that, an even more ingenious person contemplated “What if one of those aliens gets left behind on earth while the others head back home”. Just a thought; and we get introduced to the most friendly and cute alien ever.

Materialized  from a one-line idea and inspired from “his-highness” Steven Spielberg’s childhood imaginary friend, E.T. sets an epitome of how beautifully creative you can be. For its well-written and brilliantly executed script, this movie definitely makes it to my list of Top 10 alien movies, though many hesitate to put E.T. under the exceptional alien category for its atypical theme and script. The fact that 20 yrs later when the movie was re-released with modification and deleted scenes, it received as over-whelming a response as the first release is sufficient enough to appreciate the greatness of this movie.

So here we have a single mother (Dee Wallace) to 3 kids – 9-10 yr old Elliot (Henry Thomas), 3-4 yrs old Gertie (Drew Barrymore) and the eldest one Michael (Robert MacNaughton). Just like any other family with kids, the house is a complete mess and the kids constantly trouble and pester each other. On one cold night, Elliot, on observing some commotion in the backyard, heads there to find the source of disturbance. Instead what he sees is a weird-looking creature, a stranded alien abandoned by the mother-ship. Intrigued by the creature and laughed at by his mother and elder brother, Elliot decides to visit that creature again the next night with a goody box to lure him. Elliot successfully befriends this creature and smuggles him to his room without anybody’s knowledge. While this weird creature creates a ruckus in-house out of his own inquisitiveness and wanders around stealthily, Elliot’s siblings get to know about his in-house presence, include him in their group as a companion and start calling him “E.T”. They introduce E.T. to the human world, human accessories and English language, which he grasps pretty fast. But E.T. has a strange way of communicating. He expresses himself through Elliot in telepathic ways.

In the mean time, scientists and researchers observe the recent UFO activity and begin their investigation on the same. E.T along with the help of the kids puts together a signaling device for “E.T-> Home-> Phone”.  As amazed and amused as they are, Elliot and the kids decide to send E.T. to his home sound and safe, and find the most opportune time for this at Halloween. This is where their plan begins to falter and the scientists become aware of the aliens whereabouts and begin their operation. Do the kids succeed in ensuring E.T’s safe departure or does he become another tool for scientific research. We he present another joy-ride for kids or will he harm Elliot by expressing through him.

You truly should watch this truly amazing movie to enjoy E.T’s journey and interactions on our home planet. It’s a constant struggle for me to pen-down my favorite scene in the movie. It could be that scene where ET begins to follow another kid who is dressed as alien for Halloween, or it could be the scene where Gertie dresses him up as a girl and teaches him english words and object names; or the fake grief by Elliot and others for saving E.T. There were so many moments in the movie when I was just smiling to myself and nothing in particular. It brings you upfront with the joy and innocence of being a kid.

 

There are certain scenes which were omitted from the movie as director Spielberg believed them to be on too much fantasy based premise for the audience to accept. To mention is the scene where the kids fly in the sky while riding cycles. To me even those scenes were as entertaining as all, and formed a natural part of the screenplay.

The kids are so adorable and well-suited for the script, and so is the E.T. And how do we forget our own Drew Barrymore who is so delightful and charming in the movie. Everything from the visual effects to the voice-makeover for E.T. (The voice for E.T. was given by an old lady who smoked packets of cigarette daily, hence giving her the required hoarseness)has been done to such a perfection, that it’s impossible to find a wrong shot or inappropriate moment in the movie.

No wonder that the movie was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 4 titles (best sound effects, best visual effects, best original score and best sound) along with multiple other nominations and awards. However, it did not bag the award for best director or best film.

The film has a number of remakes including our own spiced-up bollywood version of the movie by the title Koi Mil Gaya (starring Hritik Roshan and Preity Zinta). If you are aware of any other remakes of this classic movie, drop in a line here.

Signs (2002)

I wish I could say “Here’s one more masterpiece by Manoj Night Shyamalan”; sadly it’s not. It’s not even close to one. Surely it gives you spine chills at times but it does not maintain them throughout. What starts as a sci-fi thriller, actually turns out about the deep-rooted issue of trust and believe on your life incidents rather than about extraterrestrials.

Graham (Mel Gibson), a priest, is deeply shaken to question his profound faith on God when his wife dies in a road accident, causing him to abandon his roll as a reverend. He is left with two kids, a son and a daughter, to be taken care of, with his brother Merril (Joaquin Phoenix) – a baseball player with good as well as bad records, to help him survive the hardship. His 10-11 year old son Morgan (Rory Culkin) suffers from asthma, and his 4-5 year old daughter, Bo (Abigail Breslin) has a thing about water wherein she leaves glasses of water at every corner of the house throughout the movie.

The movie starts with the emergence of crop signs in Graham’s field as well as across the continents, leading the audience in believing it to be the main theme of the movie. The movie then rambles on about the possibilities at hand from pranksters to hostile aliens about to invade the planet who poison the humans through some secretions. In between the eerie atmosphere, the director introduces all the plot members, describing their characteristics and weaknesses. Finally the aliens start to make appearances through UFOs with the crop signs being their landmarks. The family hides in the attic, where hysteria causes the son to have an asthma attack which he leaves him in a critical condition. After a night spent in the attic, the radio announces the alien’s departure from the planet, spreading a sigh of relief. But when the family comes out of the hiding, exhausted yet happy, they see that an alien is still in their house and has captured Morgan.

Now here’s the climax of the movie, “The Signs” as to say; the signs that existed throughout their existence help the family to fight this crisis, establishing the fact that there are no coincidences in life and that everything happens for a reason. This incident establishes Graham’s faith back in God, making him believe that everything happens for a reason, everything is a Sign, and the movie ends with Graham starting back his services to the church.

Surely, the movie has a great story but the execution gets a little tedious. I understand that subject like the one in hand need a slow treatment but the movie gets to the point of boredom and certain scenes absolutely draw yawns from the audience. The good background score establishes the eerie environment but fails to heighten it. The introduction of the characters in the storyline gets too obvious rather than implicit. The acting by all the actors is commendable with the expected cameo by Shyamalan as Ray Reddy, the man who kills Graham’s wife. The movie won a lot of awards and accolades at several ceremonies.

The movie is a yes from my side. But watch it when you are in the mood for some slow and deliberate thriller and enjoy the build up patiently.

For those of you who don’t know – Scary movie 3 is hugely inspired from this movie.