Newest Reviews
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
No Man of God
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Quiet Place Part II, A
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
  Starman He'd Like To Come And Meet Us But He Thinks He'd Blow Our Minds
Year: 1984
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Phalen, Tony Edwards, John Walter Davis, Ted White, Dirk Blocker, M.C. Gainey, Sean Stanek, George 'Buck' Flower, Russ Benning, Ralph Cosham, David Wells, Alex Daniels, Lu Leonard
Genre: Science Fiction, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: The Voyager space probes included methods of telling any alien civilisation about Planet Earth, including greetings in many languages, songs and music, and instructions on how to speak basic English. Little did the scientists know that their message would be picked up by extraterrestrials so soon, and they send back a probe of their own which enters the Earth's atmosphere but malfunctions and crashes in a remote part of Wisconsin. The only person living nearby is Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), still mourning the death of her husband, yet in a funny way she's about to get him back...

In the John Carpenter canon you could look at Starman as the anti-Thing, in that it's science fiction and features an alien taking on the form of a human being, in this case Jenny's husband played by Jeff Bridges, but instead of wreaking havoc and placing the whole of the world's population in peril he wants to get back home, though not before spreading a little happiness. If this is sounding like another science fiction movie of the early eighties, then it was no coincidence that E.T. The Extraterrerstrial was made about the same time, as both were projects at Columbia only they passed on the Spielberg blockbuster to make this.

Oops. But although Starman was nowhere near the megasuccess of that film, it did pick up a few fans, and even an Oscar nomination for Bridges in surely the quirkiest performance ever to garner that status. He played the alien in the body of Jenny's deceased spouse as a kind of machine, picking up whatever information he could and using it to make his way through the often hostile landscape of the film. It could have been hopelessly cutesy, but somehow Bridges salvaged it from the realms of basic sitcommery and made it both funny and charming; there were quite a number of good laughs here in the stranger in a strange land details, but also a genuinely sweet companionship between Jenny and the Starman.

He never even tells her his name, but after a start fraught with misunderstandings - growing from a baby to a fully formed man in the space of seconds on the floor of your living room could make for a tense relationship if that sort of behaviour freaks you out - they begin to form a bond as the film took on the road movie conventions where he has to reach a crater in the middle of nowhere to meet up with his rendezvous. Reluctantly at first, Jenny loses her belief that she's been kidnapped to attain and understanding with her new friend, and soon it is she who is protecting him from the dangers of being new here and not being savvy to the correct way to act around people.

As this road trip and resulting agreement to help is being forged, there is further risk supplied by the United States Government. They couldn't help but notice this new arrival and send hawkish military man Richard Jaeckel after Starman, after getting the advice of fascinated SETI man Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) who conducts his own investigation and proves more of an ally than he first intended. Along the way the eighties sci-fi preoccupation with pregnancy emerges once again, but this is part of the romance, for Carpenter showed a neat understanding of how to make this affair tick along without it appearing more absurd than it would otherwise - the performances of Bridges and Allen (in an equally tricky role as we have to be convinced by Jenny's reactions) went a long way to guiding the audience through the fantasy. By the end, Jenny has shown Starman the best of humanity simply by ensuring his survival; she didn't need to, but her compassion highlights not all of us are bad, and under the most extreme conditions we can be pretty good, considering. Poignant electronic music by Jack Nitzsche.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


This review has been viewed 2486 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film


John Carpenter  (1948 - )

Skillful American writer-director of supense movies, often in the science fiction or horror genres. Comedy Dark Star and thriller Assault on Precinct 13 were low budget favourites, but mega-hit Halloween kick-started the slasher boom and Carpenter never looked back.

The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, the underrated Christine, Big Trouble in Little China, They Live and Prince of Darkness all gained cult standing, but his movies from the nineties onwards have been disappointing: Escape from L.A., Vampires and Ghosts of Mars all sound better than they really are, although The Ward was a fair attempt at a return, if not widely seen. Has a habit of putting his name in the title. In 2018, after branching off into music, he returned to produce another Halloween sequel. He should direct a western sometime.

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: