Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
In fact, there is not that much I can say about the movie. The acting is generally competent, and often good, but is never brilliant. The production values are always high, but the film's sets, costumes, and images are never inspired by any noticeable aesthetic sensitivity. The script is decently written, but never poetic, clever, or insightful. Close Encounters of the Third Kind is, simply, a well made but forgettable film.
Nevertheless, even though I was never particularly moved by the crises of the movie's characters or by the developments of its story, I did enjoy watching Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Spielberg does tell an entertaining tale that is capable of holding the viewer's interest throughout its duration. I will even go so far as to say that the director is at his best when he is making simple adventure films like this, Jaws, and the Indiana Jones movies. The grating sentimentality and tendency to preach to which he succumbs in his "more serious" films are far less noticeable in these earlier adventures, which, as a consequence, have far fewer flaws than do those later profound works of art.
Unfortunately, while it may not be as irritating as much of what the director would later produce, the movie still does have its weaknesses. For one thing, as is almost always the case with Spielberg's films, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is simultaneously flashy and pedestrian. The special effects are genuinely impressive and well utilized, but they are not particularly inventive. His space monsters, for instance, are merely the pale naked children with big bald heads, big black eyes, and little lipless mouths described by countless wild-eyed abductees. Perhaps I am being unnecessarily contrary, but I would actually have appreciated something different, something a little creative. Be this as it may, whatever the shortcomings of the film's special effects, they are its most memorable component and are accomplished technically.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind may not be much more than a fun adventure, but it is an enjoyable film that is worth watching.
Review by Keith Allen
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