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Close Encounters of the Third Kind Review

It takes great efforts to make space, the final frontier of life as we know it, boring. But as ever, Steven Spielberg rises to the plate, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind goes to great lengths in making its case for extra-terrestrial life being nothing more than a brief, bland flutter that’ll temporarily spike everyday normality. Brushing a close encounter with life from other planets off as cannon fodder for the news instead of a monumental moment in our time on this wretched Earth. Still, I can’t complain too much with the amicable approach Spielberg takes in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a film that screams popcorn movie at every turn.

There’s nothing wrong with popcorn movies, but this one in particular strikes me as a bit long-winded. An amalgamation of strangely different facets of cinema, they all come together under this umbrella of Hollywood. François Truffaut, combining his charming French talent with a rare English-language role, brings a sense of respectability to the piece. The inclusion of Richard Dreyfuss and Bob Balaban bring about worthy roles for this oddball trio, but they never do anything of interest. They feel forgettable, and it doesn’t really matter who you cast in these roles, they’re all incredibly bland.

A man that’s obsessed with an unexplained love of aliens and hopes to find them, a couple of scientists, and that’s about it. These roles feel completely interchangeable, and there’s not enough interest in Spielberg’s writing to flesh these people out. Clinging to the few culturally significant moments it has, Close Encounters of the Third Kind toils incredibly hard to carve out a cultural niche, but in turn it just digs itself further and further into a bleak hole of forgettable performances and weak direction. Dreyfuss is usually a good draw, he managed to keep Astronaut from falling apart, but if this is meant to be a defining moment of his career, then I can’t say I’m all that impressed.

Completely forgettable, a film that clings to the coattails of the talented cast involved in its creation, Close Encounters of the Third Kind is an inexplicably popular piece that fails to muse on its ideas of alien life, and instead becomes a drab, boring exploration of how people would respond to the first contact with living beings from another world. Their amicable, rather flatlining response to the revelation of not being alone in the universe is startling, and it’s one of the many problems this Spielberg flick has. Bored performances, completely forgettable direction, it’s a film about life that feels completely dead in the water.

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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