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STARMAN (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 19, 2009 by  



“Romantic and very enjoyable, “STARMAN” also features a wonderful performance by both Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen.  The Blu-ray release features the best looking audio and video transfer of ‘STARMAN’ yet.   Definitely a Blu-ray release worth the double dip!”

Images courtesy of © 1984 Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: STARMAN

DURATION: 115 minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:40:1), English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Subtitles: English, English SDH and French

COMPANY:  Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

RATED: PG

Release Date: August 11, 2009

Directed by John Carpenter

Screenplay by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon

Executive Producer: Michael Douglas

Produced by Larry J. Franco

Co-Produced by Barry Bernardi

Associated Producer: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon

Music by Jacki Nitzche

Director of Photography: Donald M. Morgan

Edited by Marion Rothman

Casting by Jennifer Shull

Production Design by Daniel A. Lomino

Set Decoration by Robert R. Benton

Starring:

Jeff Bridges as Starman/Scott Hayden

Karen Allen as Jenny Hayden

Charles Martin Smith as Mark Shermin

Richard Jaeckel as George Fox

Robert Phalen as Major Bell

Tony Edwards as Sergeant Lemon

Director John Carpenter presents a romantic science fiction odyssey starring Jeff Bridges as an innocent alien from a distant planet who learns what it means to be a man in love. When his spacecraft is shot down over Wisconsin, Starman (Bridges) arrives at the remote cabin of a distraught young widow, Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), and clones the form of her dead husband. The alien convinces Jenny to drive him to Arizona, explaining that if he isn’t picked up by his mothership in three days, he’ll die. Hot on their trail are government agents, intent on capturing the alien, dead or alive. En route, Starman demonstrates the power of universal love, while Jenny rediscovers her human feelings for passion.

“STARMAN”, the entertaining 1984 film from Director John Carpenter that combined sci-fi, romance and action.

Known for films such as “The Fog”, “Escape from New York”, “The Thing” and “Christine”, Carpenter made his return to the science fiction realm. Having directed space-driven films in the 1960’s such as “Terror from Space”, “Gorgo versus Godzilla”, “Sorcerer from Outer Space” and “Dark Star”, Carpenter is joined by screenwriter Bruce A. Evans (“Stand By Me”) and Raynold Gideon (“Stand By Me” and “Mr. Brooks”), composer Nack Nitzsche (“Nine 1/2 Weks”, “Stand By Me”, and “The Crossing Guard”) and cinematographer Donald M. Morgan (“Crossing Jordan” and “Sybil”).

The film would star Jeff Bridges (“Tron”, “The Last Picture Show” and “The Fabulous Baker Boys”), Karen Allen (“Raiders of the Lost Ark”, “Malcolm X” and “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”), Charles Martin Smith (“Drive”, “Left Behind: World at War” and “Dead Heat”) and Richard Jaeckel (“Baywatch”, “Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection” and “Black Moon Rising”).

The film revolves around grieving widow Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen).  Her husband Scott was killed in an accident and she finds herself at her home watching old home films of the two.

Meanwhile, an alien probe has crashed and the alien being ends up at the home of Jenny.  The surviving alien immediately looks at photos of the deceased Scott Hayden and from the DNA taken from the lock of hair of Scott, the cloning transformation begins.

Jenny sees a blue pulsing light in her living room and discovers a baby that suddenly grows into a young boy, then a teenager and then all of a sudden, a clone of her deceased husband.  The Starman then uses one of the miniature balls that he carries around to communicate with his people to meet him at a rendezvous point.

She reacts to fear but is immediately told by the Starman to take him to the state of Arizona.  Thinking that she is being kidnapped and not knowing what will happen to her.

Meanwhile, the US government through George Fox has ordered SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrials) agent Mark Shermin and the military to check out the alien vessel.  Discovering that there is no one inside, Shermin believes that the alien is somewhere nearby.

Immediately, both Jenny and the Starman drive towards Arizona.  The Starman observes Jenny and tries to learn from her actions but each time she has the opportunity, Jenny tries to alert authorities by leaving notes or doing something to alert people that she has been kidnapped.  In one instance, she tries to get in an accident.  When she tries to scream out for help for the driver in the other vehicle to help her and the Starman answers to the driver with “Greetings!”.  The driver of the truck tries to save her (holding a crowbar) but the  Starman heats up the crowbar  and creates a blast which scares off the driver.

As the government opens the alien vessel, Shermin finds inside the vessel is a gold phonographic disk which went up with the 1977 Voyager II inviting other life to visit the Planet Earth and containing a variety of languages.  Happy to know that extra terrestrials received their message, unfortunately for his government superiors, they are not so thrilled and want to capture the alien.  Through tips from the encounter with the Starman and Jenny, the government knows that they are on the run and must do what they can to catch the alien.

While they drive towards Arizona, Jenny starts to see the kindness of the alien.  She also learns that he must get to the rendezvous point in Arizona within three days or else he will die on this planet.   Having a change of heart, Jenny decides to help him get to the destination but with this alien now looking exactly like her deceased husband, she begin to fall for the alien.  Meanwhile, the US government and local authorities do what they can to capture them.

VIDEO & AUDIO:

“STARMAN” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:40:1) and I have to say that for a film that came out in 1984, the HD transfer of this film is magnificent.  I have literally watched this film over and over when it first aired on cable and then have seen it presented in a variety of formats (widescreen and re-released in full screen) on DVD but this Blu-ray release is simply the definitive version to own.

With many of the scenes shot outdoors, the video quality is quite vibrant for a film that is 25 years old.  When it comes to many 80’s films, on Blu-ray, you really don’t know what kind of picture quality that you are going to get.  Some look like they have been DNR’d (digital noise reduction) and are very soft and waxy in terms of picture quality, some look aged and as much as I love grain, sometimes it’s too prominent.  But for “STARMAN”, colors are vibrant.  You can see Starman’s red clothing really come out quite nicely on the video.

Of course, with the HD transfer, it does also showcase some of the oldschool sci-fi technology.  For example, there is a scene with Starman and Jenny inside the car and you can tell that the green screen for that certain scene just doesn’t look right with the haloing effect around the characters.

As for audio, the film is presented in English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  The film actually sounds great for a 1984 film as scenes such as the alien vessel crashing down on Earth, to explosions and blasts that really sound nice through the front channel and surrounds.  For the most part, the film is front channel heavy and there is occasional surround sound usage.  Dialogue is clean and understandable from the center channels and the musical score from Jack Nitzsche also sounds great on HD.

Overall, I was very impressed by the picture and audio quality for this film.  Of course, I’m not talking about reference quality but for a 1984 film and seeing how many 80’s films have not received a great HD transfer, “STARMAN” is one such film that definitely looks and sounds much better than its DVD counterpart.

As for subtitles, “STARMAN” is presented in English, English SDH and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

There are no special features on this Blu-ray disc but trailers for upcoming releases from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.  This Blu-ray release is BD Live enabled.

I can easily remember watching this film over and over on HBO when I was younger.  I absolutely loved the film and although watching it now, you do see its campiness due to the special effects of that time but watching it 25 years later, I have to say that I enjoyed every minute of the film again!

It was also a great to see John Carpenter really deliver with this film, especially when compared to his later sci-fi film “Ghosts of Mars” which are of course, is apples and oranges when it comes to comparisons but in terms of quality, Carpenter delivered for this 1984 film.

Jeff Bridges did a great job playing an alien life form trying to learn from humans and Karen Allen definitely balances out his character quite effectively.  I actually enjoyed the pacing of the film and seeing how the two main characters had this somewhat of a hostile interaction but slowly, they begin to learn from each other.

The Blu-ray release is definitely the definitive version to own at this time.  The HD transfer is much better than the DVD and the audio quality is also great for a film that came out 25 years ago.  Of course, the downside of this release is that there are no lack of special features.  I would imagine that both Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen could have been interviewed.  Also, it would have been a blast to hear a commentary from John Carpenter.

A “STARMAN” TV series did come out in 1986 which furthered the storyline of “STARMAN” (starring Robert Hays as the Starman) and rumors were circulating in 2008 that a DVD release was on its way but nothing has been confirmed as of this time.

But for now, fans of this classic sci-fi series can be proud to know that this Blu-ray release of this film is just beautiful to watch and sounds great ala High Definition.

Romantic and entertaining, “STARMAN” also features a wonderful performance by both Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen.  “STARMAN” is definitely a Blu-ray release worth the double dip!

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