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Must-See Movie Reviews From Before the Grave

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)

"Have you recently had a close encounter?"

Initial Impressions:

Simon: Man I love saying the name of this movie!  Seriously!  Stop reading, and say the name out loud.  Doesn't it just make you tingle with excitement?!  This film is one of many films that I've watched half of over the years.   Not that I didn't like it of course.  But I just seem to have trouble sitting through movies.   It'll be nice to go back and revisit, and actually finish it this time.

Bennett: I really have no clue what to expect from this movie. Supposedly it’s about aliens and earth, humans and spaceships. But for all I know, it could be a movie based off the board game Candyland.

Simon's Take:

Finally! Here is another alien film that isn't about alien's destroying humanity. Or trying to teach humanity about the wickedness of their ways. Here's a film based on more of the curious premise of what would initial contact look like? There aren't any aliens shooting humans. Or humans shooting aliens. Instead we're treated to an interesting scenario where an electrician encounters a UFO and subsequently has a madness like obsession with a mountain. It all sounds rather generic. But the film is lifted from its rather simplistic storyline by some great acting and a continual sense of intrigue. First up the UFO design is great. Spielberg's team takes the traditional saucer shape, and while not radically altering it. Makes some profound improvements to it. Their presence in a scene is absolutely mesmerizing. And I found myself wishing for more than a fleating glimpse of one. Surprisingly enough their presence isn't quite as frequent as one might expect for a movie all about aliens. Instead it mostly focused on the people who had had encounters with these Alien's. And the Alienation they themselves felt among society. It was quite fascinating watching Dreyfusses charecter really embrace the madness and trying to reconcille himself with the feelings he was experiencing. Building an extremely detailed replica of a mountain inside his home. Using mainly his neighbors yard supplies was a fun sequence. And indeed there was quite a bit of humor. Especially in the beginning of the film when we're introduced to the charecters. But the film doesn't scrap on tension though either. With a particularly great abduction sequence. And some early encounters with the aliens. Really as far as movies go, this film had a great mix of genres that didn't inhibit it from telling a great story. I struggle to think of cons when it comes to Close Encouters. The film was very well done. But not quite to the level of masterpiece. Leagues better than Silent Running, but not quite a Star Wars. I found the first half of the film more interesting then the second half. Largely due to the sense of mystery and intrigue surrounding the charecters situations. I felt like during the second half of the film we knew to much, and were essentially waiting for the charecter to arrive at their destinations in order for the plot to be moved forward. The last 15 minutes of the film are amazing however. The mystery and intrigue are rekindled. And the film pulls all the stops to achieve a visual climax. If you're a Sci-Fi fan you really owe it to yourself to watch one of the films that makes the genre great. If you're looking for a thrill a minute film however. You best look elsewhere.


- Unexpected Humor
- Descent into madness
- A non-typical alien movie


- Slightly slower second half
- Didn’t quite reach a mind-blowing level

Bennett's Take:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind was quite the film. I found the entire plot very intriguing. There were many times when I sat up and moved closer to the scene waiting in anticipation of what was going to happen. The film was captivating, which was a nice change of pace after our last few films. It is hard not to compare movies to previous films we have watched, but after watching Silent Running, everything seems amazing. In actuality, Close Encounters was a very well made movie. The sets and effects were realistic—which says a lot for a movie in the sci-fi genre, the plot was enchanting, the acting compelling. Overall the film was good, and I do not have many negative things to say, but I just did not enjoy it much.
The set designs for the film were well done, especially at the base in the final scenes. The technology displayed, and the set up required to communicate with aliens was complex and plausible. I felt much thought was put into the lay out, just like it would be if aliens were coming to have a chat. However, I was curious why nobody had guns, or weapons of any sort. Wouldn’t weaponry be one of the first items on the checklist in case someone swears in the alien language and a fight breaks out? Also, I would have thought there would be more security in the area surrounding the base so civilians do not get in the way, but in this case a few just waltz right in unchecked. But that seemed to be pretty necessary for the movie, so I rest my case. I must say, the UFOs were well designed, and were not your typical saucer. Each ship was different than the other, which kept things interesting.
The plot for this film was one of the better ones we have watched so far. It actually made sense; there was a direction the film was heading towards, and it arrived effectively. There were twists to the plot, and mysteries only revealed at the end. The movie really made you want to keep watching, hoping for clues or answers to your questions. However, some questions were never answered, like: Why would Roy, in just a few short hours, go from loving his wife and three kids, to moving on to a complete stranger? Or, How did the humans know they would have the opportunity to be ‘pilgrims’ on the alien ship so far ahead of time with no previous conversation? There is also the question of, Why does the neighbor keep ducks? The second question really troubled me however, as it really did not make much sense. I have never appreciated alien films much. Not totally sure why, probably because they always look so weird and I’m jealous of their spacecraft. But for an alien movie that in based largely on compulsion (somewhat similar to vampire powers) Close Encounters is a good one.


- Captivating Plot
- Realistic sets (the base)


- Alien movie
- Troubling uncertainties

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