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Through the eyes of an alien, we view our world. Such is the beauty of John Carpenter's 'Starman'. His gentle alien comes in the form of a human clone (Jeff Bridges), and as we watch him interact with the rest of our race, we see both the good and the bad in all of us. It is this particular role that I find to be Jeff Bridge's most superb acting (or close to it, given his amazing work in 'The Fisher King'). To me he always did seem an alien in an unfamiliar human body, rather than the actor "Jeff Bridges". While there is certainly some over-simplification in the movie, and it can get a little sappy, I find the 'sap' in this case to be both touching and beautiful. How wonderful, how sad, how miraculous, to watch ourselves through the innocent and wise eyes of this alien being. A brilliant look at human beings, a sweet love story, and an excellent exploration of our spirit.
This beautiful and funny science fiction film comes very close to being my
all-time favorite movie. This film is about love. An alien lands on Earth
to investigate the life-forms, and encounters Karen Allen. A cross-country
chase ensues as our alien has to meet up with his starship in Arizona.
But for me, the main point of this film is not the chase, the cloning by the alien, the humor throughout the film, or the eventual outcome which led into the subsequent TV series. The focal point comes in the diner where our alien asks Karen Allen to "Define Love." If everyone would take this definition to heart, this world would be a much better place!
This is what movie making should strive to achieve. This film has virtually everything... romance, humor, action, suspense, a gorgeous soundtrack, beautiful cinematography, an intelligent screenplay with a most important message, and talented actors and actresses. I gave it a SOLID 10!
Jeff Bridges is one of my favorite actors and it's a shame that he has
not yet won an Oscar. He has been acting for thirty-five years and only
been nominated four times. Starman (1984) gave him his third nomination
and while he had tough competition that year, F. Murray Abraham and Tom
Hulce in Amadeus, his performance is brilliant and every bit as good.
The way that Bridges takes the character and the little glitches in his
movement and speech are fascinating. It is a complete transformation
and it's flawless. I was reminded of how Dustin Hoffman played his
character in Rain Man with all his little stutters and twitching, but
Hoffman studied the disease and had something to work with. Bridges
pulls this performance off from scratch and hits a bullseye. Karen
Allen and Charles Martin Smith are both good as well and the score is
wonderful. The story may be a bit derivative and there are some story
lulls, but who cares. This is a must-see movie simply for Bridges
*** out of ****
John Carpenter directed "Starman" in 1984, hot off the mega-success of
the landmark horror movie "Halloween" in 1978 and the cult science
fiction/adventure flick "Escape from New York" in 1981. "Starman" was a
significant departure and change-of-pace from all of Carpenter's
While essentially a science fiction story involving all the essentials - aliens, the United States Army, government cover-ups, a countrywide chase adventure and what's this, an intergalactic love story? - Carpenter is able to make sense of the material in such a way that it is both respectful to the sci-fi genre, the sci-fi fans, and to the audience members who may not give a crap about this sort of stuff and only want their corn popped.
The biggest surprise about "Starman" is the script by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon. They're able to strip a laughable story of all that makes it laughable and create something new, something that is intelligent, heart-warming, action-packed, and romantic. Carpenter takes his cues from the material and makes everything in this wondrous sci-fi/action piece his own. And who can forget that awesome synthesizer score by Jack Nitzsche (strange since Carpenter usually composes his own film scores)?
Evans and Gideon's script, taking its cues from "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951) and "E.T. the Extraterrestrial" (1982), concerns an alien who has come to Earth after answering an invitation he found on the Voyager II space probe. However, his ship is attacked by fighter jets and he manages to make it to the Wisconsin cabin of young widow Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), still grieving the death of her husband. After sampling DNA taken from a lock of hair of her late husband, the alien grows into a human clone of him, where he is now played by the actor Jeff Bridges.
After overcoming the obvious speech barrier when he learns to speak in English, Starman then requests that Jenny Hayden drive him from Wisconsin to Arizona, where he will meet the mother ship that will take him back to his home planet. Unfortunately, they only have a few days before he'll die from what we can only guess is exposure to our atmosphere. Matters are further complicated when the military becomes involved, desperate to catch Starman at all costs, much to the horror of laboratory rat Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith). Along the way, Jenny grows from being fearful of this visitor from another planet, to respecting him and finally loving him, while he gets to learn about human beings and BEING human.
It's not enough to say that both Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen are this film's magical centerpiece. They certainly make for one of the most dynamic, unusual and interesting screen couples in cinematic history, certainly one of the best screen couples in the history of science fiction cinema. The real stand-out of course is Bridges. This is a role that he rightfully received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for. We see no trace of the actor "Jeff Bridges" in there, all we see is "Starman," defined largely by his awkward mannerisms and patterns of speech, and it is a skillful, humorous, and touching performance that is the pure anti-thesis to Carpenter's earlier "The Thing" (1982).
John Carpenter, unfortunately, has not received a whole lot of recognition for this picture. Although it remains his only film to go to the Oscars, I only hope that this touching, once-in-a-lifetime science fiction/adventure-romance gets the recognition it so rightfully deserves.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Reading all the comments on this film, I had to add my own. Unusual
thing about the comments is that none were heavily negative. Good film
in my opinion too. But only one viewer comment mentioned something that
jumped out as I watched, and that is the heavy, but very heavy
religious overtones in the film. A creature from the heavens comes to
earth, assumes human form, has nothing but good intentions toward those
who would capture him, has the power of life and death in his hands
(the resurrection of the deer and Karen Allen), has to ascend to the
heavens in 3 days, gives a boy baby to Jenny (who can't have a child)
in a cattle car (manger) who will "be a teacher and know all that I
know". They even point out a star in the heavens that is the home of
Starman. The allegory is strong and delightful to watch. Of course the
ending is a perfect set-up for a sequel when Starman leaves the one
remaining "power ball" in Jenny's hand saying that the boy would know
what to do with it. With one exception, no movie I have ever seen with
a Roman numeral after it was worth a bag of beans, and that was
Godfather II. Starman does not need a sequel. You can write one, in
your own mind, in your own way.
And then there is Dutch apple pie...........
I'm amazed more people didn't point out the similarities in plot to
E.T. when this adult version of basically the same tale came out. Maybe
it was because Jeff Bridges performance is absolutely mesmerising, that
you're much more interested in the characters than the plot, so you
Basically, a perfect little movie. Beautifully and simply set up, the characters develop naturally in such a way that keeps you hooked right through to the end of the film. The strength of the central relationship distracts you from little infelicities, such as the fact that "Jennyhayden" seems remarkably incurious about her alien visitor - even after she gets to know him, it's not until he's about to leave that she asks him what his world is like! The film nicely points out the irony of our having extended welcoming greetings to the Universe, while our own mutual distrust causes us to shoot down every unexpected flying visitor. Having established that, however, Richard Jaekel's character seems to be pursuing the violent solution for its own sake without really exploring any motivation. When Charles Martin Smith points out that our behaviour does appear a little rude, Jaekel doesn't even have an answer for him - he's just going to try to kill the alien because that's his role in the movie I guess!
"Do you know what I find most beautiful about you? You are at your best when things are at their worst."
Well, it has been 19 years - I guess that the "boy baby" has grown up. Time for the sequel, methinks!!
Hey what a beautiful movie! Even as an alien, Jeff Bridges was brilliant.
Karen Allen, as usual, gave her all and lit up the screen. The chemistry
between the two was a delight.
This is not your typical over the top FX SciFi. It is an action drama with an underlying love story that would interest, even those who don't like this genre. But then I suppose if John Carpenter were to make a movie about the number 2758.369, it would be a interesting!
What more can I say - Great stuff!
The achingly gorgeous Karen Allen and the sublime Jeff Bridges star in
story of love and innocence.
A magical movie, with a poignant, otherworldly score sees John Carpenter direct a movie outside his usual genre. Well, all the planets came into alignment for this one, as it is a heart warming emotionally involving ride from start to finish.
This would be one of my 10 "Desert Island" movies.
A great little film, much better than I was expecting. Jeff Bridges gives one of his best and strangest performances as the "Starman" with robotic like movements and very funny mimicking of human behaviour. Karenallen is wide eyed and feisty. Only sour point is the over saccharine score by Jack Nitzsche, it hasn't aged well and is now a little painful to listen to. Otherwise this is a wonderful and charming film. (8/10)
I have always admired Jeff Bridges, but it wasn't until now that I realized he made movies when he was younger. So I was surprised to see him in this role as an alien who does not understand anything of what's happening here on earth. I can now understand why he became such a star. His performance is really good, maybe one of the best things Bridges ever did in his career! But the movie is good on all levels. A strong story, that succeeds in avoiding all the predictable jokes about a stranger getting to know the customs of a new environment (like e.g. Crocodile Dundee, or Blast from the Past), good actors, strong directing and great special effects (Bridges' transformation from a baby to an adult!) that never predominate the rest of the story. It's hard to believe this movie is already 18 years old! Like many of these '80-movies, it has this timeless quality that makes a movie worth watching even twenty years later (just like Out of Africa, The Natural, Tootsie, E.T., Blade Runner,...). If you're looking for a sweet and strong movie that gets into your heart, watch this!
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