Plot: What’s it about?
It’s the beginning of the eighties and director John Carpenter has gotten himself some hits in the horror genre and some hits in the sci-fi genre. At this point, he switches gears from looking at the fun gritty side to take a calmer gentler side to tell a story about one woman’s loss and the gain she receives one night unexpectedly. She knows she’ll never piece back what she had lost but she’ll never shake the experience she had with the Starman.
A long time ago, Voyager Two had launched into the skies to determine if there was any life amongst other planets in the galaxy. In this present day world, unknown to all Earthlings, one such being responds to this craft and lands onto the world in the backwoods of Wisconsin. Meanwhile, Jenny (Karen Allen) grieving the loss of her husband has a miraculous sight that her eyes can’t possibly begin to imagine.
A being (Jeff Bridges) resembling her dead husband comes into her presence and she takes him in as if he had come back to be with her. Although it seems that he has returned, other officials want something done with what had landed in her area. She soon realizes nothing lasts forever when this being, who she enjoys experiences with and is protected by it, has his own watch that he has to get back to as well.
This is a nice change of pace for director Carpenter. Although this viewer loves his “let’s do it for the fun of it” idea of filmmaking complete with wacky characters, dark environments and the Panavision advantage, Starman has it’s share of a similar vision, complete with the same Carpenter credits typeface, but a more deeper look inside as a woman can come to terms with what she had lost and has another chance despite being on the run. It also differs in music score whereas Carpenter, who usually does his own scores, takes a back seat and gives Jack Nitzsche a chance at the helm and gives Starman a good score that almost sounds like Carpenter never left musically. (This also occurs one other time with Ennio Morricone and the great updating of The Thing)
The acting by all is wonderful led by the always reliable Jeff Bridges who gives a touch of the outer space being in all of us as his character carefully starts understanding English and having his own way of picking up driving as well as a little luck out west. Karen Allen plays Jenny with enough sympathy and enough gusto that the audience shares in her sympathetic towards her as well as a little more knowing that this Starman won’t be around much longer if his actions are not fulfilled.
At first, the audience doesn’t know what to make of this new being that’s landed but after a little while his learning and their running make for two people under unique circumstances coming together to fulfill their needs and give each other a little bit of assistance along the way. Starman is one that is out of this world and for the most part a nice departure and very entertaining.
Video: How does it look?
Starman is given the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen treatment on DVD with the results balancing the colors and the overall visual look faring nicely as a result of it with the lovely glow of light blue in certain visual scenes given a vivid palette without too much overbleeding or saturation of color. Although some of the film takes place both during the day and at night, this doesn’t take away from the slight bit of eighties haze given over the film. Other than that minor flaw, Starman gets a solid visual presentation on DVD. The film also can be seen in pan and scan on the reverse side of the disc.
Audio: How does it sound?
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track of the film lets the score, effects and dialogue balance out throughout all channels with the dialogue taking the center channels and the score and effects playing out throught the outer channels. Although the film does have a bit of audio limitation from being an film of the eighties, outer space zooms in and out and explosions do give a loud boom but with some protection and a slight muteness but not one to take away from the resulting audio experience. This disc also has a Fremch and Spanish audio track as well as English, French and Spanish subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The only extras on this disc are two trailers, one for Starman and the other for another Jeff Bridges film, The Mirror Has Two Faces. If only the commentary track by Carpenter and Bridges were imported over for an updated disc, this would’ve made a drastic improvement extra wise
Despite the lack of extras, Starman makes for another very good film in the resume’s of both Jeff Bridges and director John Carpenter and a decent DVD that can use a slight bit of improvement to make a better DVD.