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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • French: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Spanish: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • German: Dolby Digital Stereo
  • Italian: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Hebrew, Czech, Greek, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Arabic, Portuguese, Turkish, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Hindi, Bulgarian
  Extras
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary
  • Featurette
  • Music video

Starman

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 110 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

The beauty of Starman, even almost 20 years on, is its simplicity. A lone alien surveying Earth from space crash lands near the home of a lonely widow and assumes the form of her dead husband. He then kidnaps the woman and forces her to drive him to Arizona, where he can rendezvous with his mothership and return home.

On paper, the film sounds like hokey sci-fi rubbish. It's a good thing then Starman is really a love story. Even though there are enough elements of science fiction to keep fans happy, the themes of trust and sacrifice are ultimately what make this film such a satisfying piece of cinema.

It might have seemed an extremely strange departure for John Carpenter at the time, but those that truly respect his natural talent for filmmaking will tell you that Starman is the film he simply had to create. In many ways, it can even be viewed as the natural extension of the director's true personality. Even though up until this point Carpenter's films had mostly been the stuff of nightmares, it is clear from this film that the director has always had an almost overpowering sentimentality towards filmmaking. He just never wore it on his sleeve until now.

Like E.T. before it, Starman's approach to the sci-fi genre still works because it is primarily grounded in realism, never straying into the farcical territory of ray guns (at least, not literal), lizard-skins and multi-tiered chompers. Instead, we simply get the tale of an alien just wanting to get home, but getting sidetracked by love along the way.

"Take it easy!"

Although the special effects still hold up alarmingly well to this day, it's the performances that really make Starman such a memorable and near timeless classic. Jeff Bridges' 'alien method' is entirely believable and still as effective as ever, while Karen Allen's sympathetic performance will make viewers realise that she has been criminally under-used over the last decade.

John Carpenter's tasteful direction showcases a filmmaker at the peak of his artistry. Yet, even though he would never really return to similar material, it was clear that his broad range could have mastered just about anything. Of course, the fact that he would go on to make Big Trouble in Little China, one of the most treasured cult action/comedy films ever, certainly speaks far louder of his talent than words.

Unfortunately, even though it was fairly successful at the time, Starman never broke any box-office records. But like the majority of Carpenter's films, it has gone on to become a truly treasured piece of cinema, especially within the sci-fi community, through the medium of home video.

  Video
Contract

Thankfully, Starman has received a fairly royal treatment in the video restoration department. The transfer displays an extremely pleasing level of sharpness, especially considering the age of the film. Colour levels are also very well saturated along with delightful shadow detail and solid black levels. There are surprisingly few problems with aliasing and grain in general, however there are quite a few problems throughout the feature with film artefacts, mostly in the form of dirt and even the odd hair. This is to be expected, however, and doesn't detract greatly from the overall viewing experience.

  Audio
Contract

The soundtrack for Starman has received an excellent remixing into Dolby Digital 5.1. Notable for being one of the few instances where Carpenter gave up the reins of composing to someone else, the ever memorable electronic score by Jack Nitzsche sounds wonderful remixed in this manner, and ought to be a big revelation for those who have only seen the film on VHS.

Some extremely effective surround activity now gives the film an even greater atmosphere. Many will be pleasantly surprised that even though there isn't a great deal of action contained within the film, the directionality that appears from time to time is both precise and extremely effective. Quite a bit of subwoofer presence has been included as well, so those hoping for a bit of extra body in the soundtrack will also find this quite satisfying.

  Extras
Contract

Especially considering the fact that Starman drops straight into the market at a budget price, the extras here are very decent.

No John Carpenter film should come without an audio commentary from the man himself, and thankfully, Starman isn't an exception to the rule. Like all Carpenter commentaries, this one is a breeze to listen to. With Jeff Bridges also along for the ride, Carpenter fondly reminisces about what it was like to work on the project as well as going quite deep into production details. All the while we get a surprisingly detailed explanation from Jeff Bridges regarding his method approach to portraying a man from outer space. Whilst it doesn't contain quite as many laugh out loud moments as some of his other efforts, particularly those with Kurt Russell on The Thing and Big Trouble in Little China, this is another top notch effort from a director who truly knows what people want to hear in a DVD commentary these days.

The short 11-minute making of featurette was made around the same time as the film itself, and was obviously used to promote the picture. The quality is fairly poor, however any Carpenter fan should enjoy the interview segments with the director himself.

A rather sobering experience comes in the form of a sci-fi country music video for All I Have to Do is Dream, performed by Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges. Ha ha ha ha... ahem, you'll definitely want to take a look at this one.

Finally there are two theatrical trailers. The first is a fairly dated one for the film itself, while the second is for the likewise sci-fi masterpiece, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

  Overall  
Contract

You want value in a DVD? Well the movie alone is worth the price tag here. However, not only is Starman an immediate entry into Columbia Tristar's budget range, it comes complete with beautifully remastered video and audio as well as a generous extras package.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=2544
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      And I quote...
    "Starman's approach to the sci-fi genre still works because it is primarily grounded in realism..."
    - Ben Pollock
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Omni SL-P2000KD
    • TV:
          Palsonic 71cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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