The Really Cool Stuff
Best Feature:
The film on this DVD is NOT the original release version or the 'Special Edition' re-release version, but a third, definitive director's cut of the film!!!  Spielberg has deleted the 'Inside the Mother Ship' sequence from the end of the 'Special Edition' version, but has retained the other additional scenes from that release.  Also, a scene from the original release, which was cut for time from the 'Special Edition', in which Roy tears apart the neighborhood collecting material for his living-room-sized Devil's Tower, has been reinstated. 
Making-Of Documentary:
This is a feature-length documentary covering all aspects of making the film.  An incredible amount of good information, including interviews with cast and crew, visual effect tests, abandoned sequences, and more!  Also features it's own chapter selection screen, with each chapter categorized by topic.
The Uncool Stuff A.K.A. The Complaints Department
Image Quality:
Kind of disappointed here.  The picture quality is slightly grainy, and only a bit sharper than the VHS version.   The deep blacks and brilliant whites most coveted by DVD fans are noticably absent.
Scene Selection Screen:
According to the box, scene selection features motion images, but unless you can lift your television set, they aren't going anywhere. (In other words, looks like still images to me!)
That UFO's Shadow Chasing Roy's Truck:
This is one of the scenes added to the 'Special Edition', and I've just never liked it.  After a side view showing Roy's truck driving down a deserted road, which features the very subtle dot in the sky moving the same direction, a crane shot is inserted, which shows Roy's truck continuing down the road, followed by a gigantic, spiderlike shadow.  Way to ruin the suspense!  Also, would a heavily lighted spacecraft traveling in a rural location on a moonless night cast a shadow on the ground?  Noooooooooooo!


Final Thought

Complaints aside, this is a fairly solid DVD presentation.  There is no director's commentary track, but the excellent 'making-of' documentary makes that a redundant feature, so there's no need for one.  Also, this is by far the best incarnation of the film available.
The Technical Stuff
Region 1 encoding (US and Canada) 2 Disc Set
Disc 1:  Collector's Edition Version of Film
             Widescreen Anamorphic Presentation
Disc 2:  Supplemental Material
THX Certified Sound; DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 - English
Dolby Stereo Surround 2.0 - English / French / Spanish
Subtitles - English / French / Spanish / Portuguese / Chinese / Korean / Thai

The Usual Stuff
Menu Screen Presentation:
Both discs begin with a short intro featuring the famous five note greeting from the film.  The screen then makes a transition to show the Main Menu screen, which depicts a montage of scenes from the film, accompanied by John Williams' theme music.  Disc #1 features buttons for Play Movie, Scene Selection, Set-up, and Subtitles.  Disc #2 features buttons for Theatrical Trailers, Documentary, 1977 Featurette, Deleted Scenes, and Filmographies.
Sound and Image Quality:
The sound quality is incredible, but the image quality is only okay.  (See 'Complaints Dept.') 
Theatrical Trailers:
Trailers for the original release and the 'Special Edition' re-release are included.    
1977 Featurette:  Watch the Skies
This featurette is actually just an extended version of the original trailer for the film.
Filmographies are listed for Steven Spielberg, Richard Dreyfuss, Fracois Truffaut, Teri Garr and Melinda Dillon.

Deleted Scenes:
Eleven scenes are presented, including the 'Inside the Mother Ship' sequence from the 'Special Edition'.  Three scenes appear to be abandoned ideas which were later re-scripted and shot differently, and the remaining seven appear to be actual deleted scenes from the finished film.  All are worth watching, if only to understand how a story can evolve during it's journey from script to screen.   However, thank your lucky stars that most of these scenes were cut from the final edit! (now, if Spielberg would only cut those last 20 minutes of A.I.,...)

Language Tracks:
Language tracks for the film are provided in English, French and Spanish.  This supplemental material is available in English only.
Review published
May 30, 2001
Review published
May 30, 2001
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