starmanColumbia Pictures Corporation
1984
PG

“I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.”

My first exposure to the films of John Carpenter was by way of the 1984 science fiction movie Starman. I watched it one Saturday afternoon while still a guest at the psychiatric ward during the summer of 1986. And would you believe it was on the CED format? How obscure is that? Also, I don’t recommend that video playback to watch movies on. If you want a good retro video disc system, stick with LaserDisc. But, I digress.

While mostly known for his horror and science fiction flicks that lean towards horror, Starman was a bit of a departure from his standard fare, in that the alien in question is not trying to destroy humans. In fact, you might say that Starman is a sci-fi romance. And this was my first taste of John Carpenter. Talk about easing into things.

So then, after intercepting the Voyager 2 space probe, aliens decide to take us up on our offer of visiting Earth, due to the invitation that was contained on that gold record we put inside the probe. But, instead of a warm, peaceful greeting, the scout ship sent is shot down by the U. S. Military, causing it to crash land in Wisconsin on a farm of a recently widowed woman. The alien entity–mainly a floating orb of light–decides it’s a great idea to clone himself a body to look like said widow’s dead husband. The widow disagrees, and while the alien just wants to get to the rendezvous point where his mothership is set to pick him up, she’s understandably upset and doesn’t want to give him a lift. Also, the rendezvous point is at the Marringer Crater in Arizona, so that’s kind of a factor there, too. She warms up a bit after he explains that, if he doesn’t make it to the location in three days, he will die (and also after resurrecting a dead deer, all the feels there). So, it’s road trip time! With the authorities in hot pursuit, will they be able to make it to the crater in time to get the alien doppelganger aboard and homeward bound in time? And will there be enough of an opening to allow at least a short-lived television series based on the movie?

Back when I first watched Starman, I found myself a bit bored at times, with my attention span wandering and not paying very close attention. I was also 12 years old at the time. Watching it now, Starman is a rather decent movie for what it is, which is a science fiction romance / road trip adventure that has some good performances from Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen as the leads.

Overall, I have to admit that Starman remains a bit of an odd entry in John Carpenter’s filmography. I don’t know if there was an attempt to tap into the more family friendly alien thing that ET popularized a couple of years prior. Regardless, Starman is a decent sci-fi flick; it does drag a bit at times, and the ending is a bit more heartwarming than I care for. But, for a weekend afternoon flick, it’s perfect for a rental.

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