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John Carpenter
Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Phalen, Tony Edwards, John Walter Davis
Writing Credits:
Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon

In 1977 Voyager II was launched into space, inviting all lifeforms in the universe to visit our planet. Get ready. Company's coming.

A gentle alien lands on Earth and assumes the human form of a Wisconsin woman's recently deceased husband. Eventually, he is assisted by the young woman in a desperate race against time and the FBI to rendezvous with his alien mothership in Arizona. The situation grows more complicated when the woman and the sweet-natured Starman begin to fall in love.

Box Office:
$24 million.
Domestic Gross
$28.700 million.

Rated PG

Widescreen 2.40:1
English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 115 min.
Price: $29.94
Release Date: 8/11/2009

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Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Starman [Blu-Ray] (1984)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 7, 2009)

After a career based around horror movies, director John Carpenter went down a different path with 1984ís Starman. The Voyager II spacecraft sends a message of peace to any potential non-terrestrials who hear it. One of them does, and he takes us up on our invitation.

Unfortunately, we donít greet his arrival very well. Armed forces shoot down the alien over Wisconsin, and he crash lands near the remote cabin of grieving widow Jenny Hauden (Karen Allen). She canít get over her loss, so to help acclimate himself, the Starman adopts the form of her dead husband (Jeff Bridges).

This leads to a curious story of romance and survival. Starman needs to get to an Arizona rendezvous in three days or heíll die. Jenny agrees to take him there, but they donít go without pursuit, as the US forces try to intercept them so they can capture Starman for scientific purposes.

On the surface, Starman looks like a more adult take on ET the Extraterrestrial. Beneath the surface, Starman still looks that way, but that doesnít mean itís just a cheap knock-off of its hugely successful predecessor; Mac and Me this ainít.

Starman does echo some shots from ET, whether it meant to or not. For instance, one scene in which both Starman and Jenny scream seems awfully similar to a shot from ET. I suppose some redundancy becomes inevitable when two films take on such similar stories, though. Itís too bad this Blu-ray includes no supplements, as Iíd love to know more about how Carpenter approached this area.

Though it becomes impossible to view Starman without ET in mind, the Carpenter flick still offers its own charms. Some of those come from the filmís talented cast. Bridges earned an Oscar nomination for his work as the Starman, which may or may not be warranted. On one hand, he brings uncommon depth to what could have been an extremely one-dimensional performance. We see how Bridges develops Starman and shows his growth through the movie.

On the other hand, Starman remains a fairly showy role that doesnít demand a whole ton from an actor. Heck, ET pulled off good emotional growth too, and he was a puppet! I think Bridges does well in the part, but the characterís potential is too limited; the role doesnít force an actor to deliver the kind of range a normal human would.

Allen does fine as Jenny, and she gets the tougher role. Jenny acts as the viewerís connection to Starman, so we need to buy into her pretty well. Allen delivers decent personality here, but she seems a little stiff. I get the feeling she wants to resist the urge to make Jenny overly emotional so she goes too far in the opposite direction.

Still, I think Allen is generally fine in the part, and she connects well with Bridges. I must admit that try as I might, I find it tough to get past the filmís similarities to ET. Sure, the pair have many differences; I donít remember any scene in which Elliott and ET get it on. Nonetheless, they remain awfully similar, and virtually all of the comparisons favor the Spielberg classic. Starman just seems a little dry and without the same spirit.

I could live without some of Starmanís plot contrivances. Jenny and Starman seem to meet an awful lot of total strangers willing to commit crimes to help them. Also, the fact they end up in Las Vegas feels like it exists solely to give us a cute scene of Starman in a casino. Most of the story works fine, but these stretches of logic create problems.

Viewed on its own merits, Starman provides acceptable entertainment. I simply think it lacks the enduring charm of ET, and it just never really catches fire. The movie gives us a reasonably interesting variant on the ET mold but it never quite prospers on its own.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus D-

Starman appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Flicks from the mid-1980s can provide very hit or miss visuals, but Starman offered excellent picture quality.

Sharpness really excelled. From start to finish, the flick looked concise and detailed. Even the widest shots still demonstrated nice accuracy, as virtually no softness manifested itself. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent, and I also noticed no edge enhancement. Very few source flaws appeared. I saw a couple of minor specks but nothing remotely substantial.

Starman went with a natural palette that looked great. The colors consistently seemed vivid and dynamic, as the filmís earthy hues came across well. Blacks were dark and tight, and low-light shots generally appeared solid. A few shadows were a little on the bland side, but not to a significant degree. Overall, the image barely showed its age; it really looked terrific.

While not quite as timeless, the Dolby TrueHD 5.1 soundtrack of Starman also held up well. The soundfield opened things up well. In particular, a mix of action scenes added pizzazz to the package. Various vehicles traveled around the spectrum well, and the general environmental material also brought out a good sense of place. Most of the information blended together well, and the track was certainly more involving and active than what I expected from a 25-year-old flick.

Audio quality was also fine, though a few elements were a little weak. In particular, louder effects like explosions and jets could be somewhat rough, but they still werenít bad given the age of the recordings. In general, effects showed good clarity, and bass response could be quite nice.

Music was pretty vivid, as the track replicated Jack Nitzcheís score well. Speech was always good. The lines seemed natural and lacked edginess or other concerns. Because some of the effects were a bit iffy, I didnít think I could give this track an ďAĒ-level grade, but I thought it proved very satisfying for its age.

A few ads open the disc. We get clips for Water Horse: Legend of the Deep, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Hachiko: A Dogís Tale, Damages Season One, The Sky Crawlers, Blood: The Last Vampire, Ghostbusters, The Da Vinci Code and Casino Royale. No trailer for Starman appears here Ė or anything else, which stinks since bonus materials exist. A Region 2 DVD has a John Carpenter commentary and other features; why not bring them to the US?

Would we view Starman differently if ET never existed? Iím sure we would, but Iím not as sure thatíd make it a more appealing movie. Starman delivers reasonable emotion and entertainment but it lacks the spark that would make it truly memorable. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture quality and very good audio but comes with no extras. The absence of supplements disappoints, but fans can rest assured that the movie has never looked or sounded better.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.1 Stars Number of Votes: 10
2 3:
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