By Owen Gleiberman
Updated March 17, 2020 at 02:42 AM EDT
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A sublime modern fairy tale that, if anything, looks subtler, darker, and more intimate now than it did in 1982. The friendship between Elliott (Henry Thom-as), aching for a dream he doesn’t know he’s been missing, and the cuddly-ugly space munchkin he names E.T. is one of the timeless bonds of movie history. Yet it is something else as well: a vision of a boy who spends an entire film becoming best friends with a special effect. E.T., a ticklish and yearning poem of wonder, is a great movie, but in bringing to life an otherworldly creature more expressive than most actors, Spielberg presaged a cinematic era in which the artificial would begin to trump the human. That said, E.T. is ultimately a tale of love, and the film becomes a cathartic leap into pure feeling.

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