With the 40th anniversary of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi phenomenon ET, many moviegoers all over the internet have begun to consider the impact and influence of the groundbreaking film on the motion picture industry as we know it today. Without ET, many of today’s most successful projects simply wouldn’t exist.
While ET obviously wasn’t the first sci-fi movie ever made, it was one of the first to turn something as disturbing as aliens into an entertaining family comedy. The film’s magical tone was unlike anything audiences had seen before and remains something that is regularly imitated today.
Mac and Me (1988)
Mac and Me is often cited by critics as one of the worst movies ever made, and its clear plagiarism of ET is just one of the many reasons for that. Not only does the film copy Spielberg’s story almost note for note, but it also fails to capture the magic that the original ET so successfully portrayed.
Mac and Me is often described as a copycat movie by outlets such as CBR because its story is so similar to the original that there’s almost nothing new to be found in the entire movie.
Although a more recent release, Jordan Peele’s Nope is a clear example of how Spielberg’s legacy of sci-fi history still lives on today. Despite the completely opposite tones and messages of the two films, they both use similar technical tricks to tell their stories.
Peele previously told the LA Times that Spielberg is one of his biggest cinematic influences, so it’s no surprise that there are so many homages to the director’s work in his latest film. In fact, the entirety of Nope is essentially a commentary on the sensational, blockbuster genre of cinema that Spielberg pioneered.
Back to the Future (1985)
The similarities between ET and Back to the Future might not be immediately clear, but looking back on both films today, the overall sense of scale and sensational storytelling is strikingly similar – which is likely due to the fact that both were released by Amblin Entertainment, the production company founded by Stephen Spielberg.
ET has a very rocky production history, and there were actually a lot of doubts about the film’s success when it first came out. No one knew it would become the phenomenon it is today, and had it not succeeded, Amblin Entertainment might not have had the opportunity to release films such as Back to the Future ( by Sealion Express).
Support Me (1988)
The 80s were a great time for kid-led movies like Stand By Me, which follows a young group of friends as they hear the rumor of a dead body in their small town and set out to find it. . Thematically, the film is very similar to ET, focusing on childlike innocence and the struggle for independence.
The two movies are often lumped together by outlets like Insider when discussing the fad for child-led family movies in the ’80s, with many even suggesting that ET was one of the first movies to start the trend. . To that extent, Stand By Me can certainly be seen as a direct inspiration from Spielberg’s family classic.
Gremlins may not have ET’s alien adventures, but its tone and style were clearly influenced by Spielberg’s film. The Gremlins themselves have a very similar attitude and history to ET, with their unconfirmed origins and penchant for hijinks.
If anyone doubts ET’s influence on the critically acclaimed Gremlins, they need look no further than the film itself, which features a direct reference to Spielberg’s film in the form of a doll. ET appearing on a toy shelf (noted by The New York Times) – clearly indicating a connection between the two films.
While Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi masterpiece Arrival takes on a decidedly different tone from Spielberg’s ET, there’s a particular theme that runs through the center of both films – the human ambition to communicate peacefully with forms. of extraterrestrial life.
As First Post noted, ET’s history of accepting aliens and their differences clearly inspired Villeneuve’s film lens, which takes a far more philanthropic and optimistic stance toward extraterrestrials than many. other science fiction films. It’s for this reason that so many fans consider Arrival Villeneuve’s best film to date.
Before ET came along and revolutionized the genre in 1982, science fiction was pretty much exclusive to mature philosophical stories about extraterrestrials and the nature of existence. Spielberg obviously deviated from tradition and offered audiences a much lighter story, which inspired many other filmmakers to do the same.
According to Harper’s Bazaar, these types of kid-friendly sci-fi films became increasingly popular in the 1980s after the release of ET, so it’s clear that the film’s positive reception had a huge effect on the types of films made at that time. .
Super 8 (2011)
JJ Abrams’ Super 8 may not have received the most praise upon release, but it stands out today as one of the few superhero movies that isn’t based on an existing franchise. . Much like ET, the film follows a group of kids as they discover alien activity in a small town.
Steven Spielberg actually served as a producer on Super 8, which likely contributed to his many stylistic borrowings from his film. But unlike many blatant ET ripoffs, this movie actually develops its own story with a fresh and interesting new premise. Super 8 simply borrows nostalgia from 80s movies to really bring out its story.
The Goonies (1985)
It’s easy to see how The Goonies may have drawn inspiration from the works of Spielberg, and ET is the most obvious example. The two films both feature younger actors as they journey through a small town and uncover secrets that they are forced to deal with on their own.
The Goonies and ET are two of the best films about childhood friendship, but most people don’t know that Spielberg was actually involved in the production of The Goonies, even filming some of the scenes himself – so he’s inevitable that some of his signature ET style has seeped in somewhere.