Winner of Academy Awards® for Cinematography and Sound Effects Editing, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind sparked more interest than ever before in the possibility we are not alone...and our government knows it. Richard Dreyfuss and others are inexplicably drawn to a very specific location where they discover an entire UFO landing compound ready to welcome...what? (Laurie Sevano)
On Disc One you are given the option of watching the film in either the Original 1977, 1980 Special Edition, or 1998 Director's Cut versions. The only special feature on Disc One is "View From Above," which provides in-movie pop-up graphics that point out differences in the Special Edition and Director's Cut as compared to the original film version. This special feature is not included on the DVD. Disc Two is packed full of supplements and includes: "Under "Encounters" where you will find an interview with "Steven Spielberg: 30 Years Of Close Encouters" (21 minutes), "The Making Of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (102 minutes), a vintage 1977 promotional featurette "Watch The Skies" (six minutes); nine deleted scenes; and the 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition Trailer—all of these special features can be found on the DVD reviewed in this issue. In addition, supplements that aren't on the DVD include an "Explorations" section with five storyboard comparisons, two storyboard galleries, location scouting pictures, Mothership Drawings by Ralph McQuarrie, 16 behind-the-scenes production stills, photos of the production team, a portrait gallery featuring portraits of eight different people, and marketing material for both the original theatrical release and the special edition; the original trailer; and the Special Edition trailer. And finally, included in the packaging is a 64-page collector's book and a poster.
The anamorphically enhanced 2.34:1 DVD exhibits a sharp image, with colors that look less dated than the previously released DVD. Black levels are deep and solid, and shadow delineation is nicely rendered. Fleshtones look natural, although there are still times when they can look somewhat reddish. Shimmering and compression artifacts can be noticed on occasion, but they are not overly distracting. The picture looks quite dimensional, and the edge enhancement that was noticeable in the previous release has been completely removed. The H.264 AVC-encoded Blu-ray Disc does show slightly dated colors, but details are delivered nicely with a good sense of dimensionality and naturalness to the picture. Noise can be noticed at times, and the brightest whites can show subtle blooming. Black levels are deep and shadow delineation is good. Still, for a 30-year-old movie, the picture does look pretty good. (Danny Richelieu)
The Dolby® Digital and DTS® Digital Surround™ 5.1-channel encodings have a definite balance toward the screen with sporadic surround engagement. Fidelity still sounds slightly dated. Imaging across the front stage is mixed well. Deep bass is presented well using the LFE channel, often sounding hard and nicely controlled. The DTS encoding provides a slight improvement in overall fidelity. The Blu-ray Disc's lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio encodings sound impressive (and that's just a guess with the DTS-HD encoding, since we only have the capability of decoding the core DTS signal). Fidelity is improved over the DVD's lossy encodings, giving the audio a less dated sound. Still, effects can sound thin and unnatural, but dialogue generally sounds good. (Danny Richelieu)