An alien takes the form of a young Wisconsin widow's husband and makes her drive him to his departure point in Arizona. Distrustful government agents, along with a more ambivalent scientist,... Read allAn alien takes the form of a young Wisconsin widow's husband and makes her drive him to his departure point in Arizona. Distrustful government agents, along with a more ambivalent scientist, give pursuit in hopes of intercepting them.An alien takes the form of a young Wisconsin widow's husband and makes her drive him to his departure point in Arizona. Distrustful government agents, along with a more ambivalent scientist, give pursuit in hopes of intercepting them.
Bridges Brings "Starman" To Life
In a joint venture by the governments of the world, a space probe is launched into the farthest reaches of the Galaxy bearing a message from the United Nations, as well as `Greetings' in fifty-four languages; it's purpose is to attempt to contact any extraterrestrial life and proffer an invitation to visit us here on Earth. In `Starman,' directed by John Carpenter, Jeff Bridges stars as the alien who responds, only to be met with a less than cordial greeting once he arrives. Encountering hosts with a militaristic, if-you-can't-identify-it-shoot-it-down attitude, Starman is forced to take refuge and elude the very ones he has traveled so far to see. The burning question of course is, why? And, unfortunately, nobody seems to know. For his striking portrayal of Starman, Bridges deservedly received a Best Actor nomination from the Academy, and it proves to be the highlight of the film. From the outset, even as he is transformed into the vessel he must occupy during his stay with us ( a terrific sequence), his presence on the screen is captivating. He truly creates a unique character, distinct in form and substance, from the physical gestures that define him, to the subtle emotional depth he so aptly demonstrates and uses so well to convey to us who this being really is. It is through him that we are drawn in to this story of the travails with which he is beset during his sojourn upon our world, and with him we can only try to understand the motivation of powerful men who seem to live their lives in fear of the unknown or diverse. As Jenny Hayden, the young woman who through circumstances beyond her control becomes involved with Starman, Karen Allen adds just the right touch of sympathy to underscore the emotional situation in which Jenny finds herself ensconced. And there's just enough chemistry between her and Bridges to make this special relationship between their characters work effectively. Ultimately, how they relate to one another, and the tenderness with which they pursue their objective, becomes the real thrust and focal point of the story. Carpenter, in fact, would have been well advised to have stayed more within the parameters of that relationship and explored the workings thereof, rather than divesting the story into other, less fruitful areas and surrounding the main characters with a plethora of stringent stereotypes. While an entertaining film, `Starman' is surprisingly lacking in originality and imagination, both in story and direction; not to say this isn't a worthwhile endeavor, because it is, and it's definitely worth seeing. But it just seems that Carpenter could have mined the emotional depths a little more, developed the connection between Starman and Jenny more fully. Had he taken that path, this could have been a truly exceptional movie. As it is, it's a good film, better than the average sci-fi offering (especially for it's time, 1984), but given that Bridges brought so much to this with his creation of such a memorable character, the movie as a whole could have been so much more. The supporting cast includes Charles Martin Smith (Mark), Richard Jaeckel (Fox), Robert Phalen (Major Bell), Dirk Blocker (Cop #1) and M.C. Gainey (Cop #2). Although it is not what you would call a `great' or `classic' movie, `Starman' does succeed in making us take pause to reconsider some of our possibly preconceived notions of the way things are or should be; in the end, it's a call for understanding and love between all people everywhere, and a proposition put forth for universal peace. And with a theme like that, combined with the terrific performance by Bridges, you could do a lot worse for an evenings entertainment. I rate this one 7/10.
- Sep 12, 2000
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