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Starman (UK) (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000039880
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 4/10/2002 23:30
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    Review of Starman

    7 / 10


    In 1977, Nasa launched the Voyager space probes to explore the outer solar system. They also carried an invitation to alien intelligences to drop by and say hello. When one of the probes is intercepted, an alien intelligence decides to respond and a spaceship is sent to Earth. Sighting this UFO, the natural response of the United States military is to shoot it down. The UFO crashes practically in the back yard of Jenny Hayden, a widow still in mourning for her husband. The alien exploring her house finds a lock of hair from the deceased Scott Hayden and through a miracle of futuristic cloning, the Starman is born. Naturally, Jenny is shocked to see what is apparently her resurrected husband, reciting Kurt Waldheim`s invitation to extra-terrestrials at her. But this faltering introduction is halted by the arrival of the military, and Starman abducts her. He must get to a crater in Arizona in 3 days or he will die, stranded on Earth and he initially compels Jenny to take him. As they travel, Jenny gets to know this enigmatic alien who so resembles her husband and she finds herself drawn more and more to Starman. But their burgeoning relationship is imperilled by the pursuit of the military, who see the arrival of an extra terrestrial as a threat.


    Starman is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. The picture is clean and pristine, with very little sign of print damage. It looks very good for a film made in 1984. John Carpenter made a significant departure from the horror and suspense that he is renowned for, and he directs Starman with a light touch, letting the performances speak for themselves. It`s a good thing that this is a remarkably effects light film for a Sci-fi movie, as what effects there are variable. While the shots of the alien globe still look good, certain scenes such as the `birth` of Starman are very dated indeed.


    Soundtracks are available in DD 5.1 English and French, with DD 2.0 Surround tracks in German, Italian and Spanish. There are also wodge loads of subtitle options. The surround is used for atmosphere and occasional effects. It is a more subtle immersion, but the remixed sound is effective. The big thing that dates this movie is the music. Fitting right in with the times, Jack Nitzche`s soundtrack is made up entirely of synthesized music and while on occasions can be remarkably touching and moving, it leaves the piece irretrievably in the eighties.


    The most substantial extra is the commentary with John Carpenter and Jeff Bridges. While commentaries are commonplace, it is somewhat rare to see the Director and Star to collaborate on a commentary and it is refreshing to hear the contrasting viewpoints on this track. There is a small degree of backslapping and mutual admiration to cut through but there is a good deal of interest to hear. Jeff Bridges makes some particularly erudite contributions.

    There is an 11-minute making of featurette, which is the usual mix of film and interview clips. However the comments that the cast and crew make are more thoughtful than you get in more recent movie extras. It`s also nice to hear 80`s voiceover man introduce this featurette.

    The music video, "All I Have To Do Is Dream"
    Oh Dear, a duet between Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen. There is a reason why singers aren`t often encouraged to act, and this proves the reverse is also true. I checked and this little number didn`t trouble the UK charts, big surprise.

    Finally there are two trailers for Starman and Close Encounters of The Third Kind. While all the extras including the commentary have subtitles in German, French, Dutch, Italian and Spanish, English subtitles are completely lacking.


    I enjoyed Starman. Well I would, being in two of the demographics, both an eighties nut and a sci-fi fan. But Starman has dated somewhat and I feel that the audience has to work a little to enjoy this film. You have to be willing to suspend your disbelief a little more than usual to lose yourself in the magic and charm that this story still possesses. It`s only by investing yourself emotionally in the characters of Starman and Jenny Hayden that you can get the film`s full effect. My mother who didn`t do this had only one comment about the Starman, "Why does he look like a chicken?" which isn`t what you want to hear when watching this film.

    Levity aside, the performances make this film and they are good indeed. Jeff Bridges is good as the alien trying to understand humanity, but his performance would fail completely were it not for the portrayal of Jenny Hayden by Karen Allen. She believes wholeheartedly in the Starman and her coming to terms with the resurrected form of her husband and the emotional roller coaster she goes on is authentic and touching. The flipside of the Starman-Jenny relationship is the pursuit by the military. Charles Martin Smith plays Mark Shermin and his eager pursuit of the alien to make contact is tempered by the belligerent attitude of his superior, George Fox played by Richard Jaeckel. As the pursuit continues Shermin finds his distaste growing as he becomes more and more disillusioned by the government`s attitude.

    Starman is a sci-fi romance with a healthy dose of comedy, and it succeeds on all counts. The biblical allusions are a little obvious, with Starman`s arrival on Earth being heralded by a resurrection of sorts, he brings hope and a message to humanity and performs the odd miracle before ascending to the heavens once more. But while people can see this as a reason to dismiss this film, or read more into it than there actually is, the fact remains that what is underneath is at heart a touching love story. Keeping that in mind, Starman is an enjoyable 2 hours, and an uplifting tale. The disc itself has an excellent transfer with some interesting extras. But the film has dated a little and you have to work a little to enjoy it.

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