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With STARMAN ($29), director John Carpenter proved that he could make a mainstream Hollywood movie… after all, this is his most blatantly commercial film. Even though STARMAN is more commercial than the majority of Carpenter’s other films, it is also one of the director’s most rewarding movies. Sure, some may find STARMAN to be a tad sentimental, but I think Carpenter does a bang up job handing the more emotional aspects of the story, with the movie never coming across as forced or saccharine. Much of the film’s emotional resonance comes from the outstanding performances from Karen Allen and Oscar Nominee Jeff Bridges. For those who may not have gotten around to seeing STARMAN in the quarter of a century since its original theatrical release, the premise could be thought of as a romantic, road movie version of I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (imagine that, if you can).

STARMAN opens with space probe Voyager II traveling across the cosmos and sending out an invitation to visit Earth. Said invitation is accepted by an extraterrestrial intelligence, which launches a small scout vessel to Earth. However, the earthbound locals prove less than friendly, with the U.S. military immediately shooting down the scout vessel, which crashes in Wisconsin. The alien intelligence contained within makes its way to the home of a young grieving widow named Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen). Using a sample of her husband’s hair as a template, Jenny find herself face to face with the stranded alien (Jeff Bridges), who has taken the form of her dead spouse Scott. At first, the familiar stranger terrifies Jenny, but soon she comes to care for the alien, because of his gentle innocence and surprising compassion. Together, Jenny and the alien make a cross-country trek to a rendezvous point in Arizona, where he can be rescued by his fellow beings… Of course, their trip is anything but simple, as the two find themselves eluding U.S. government forces, who want to capture and dissect the alien at any cost. The cast of STARMAN also features Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Phalen, Tony Edwards, John Walter Davis, Ted White, Dirk Blocker, M.C. Gainey, Sean Stanek and George 'Buck' Flower.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has made STARMAN available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation of this quarter century old film marks the absolute best STARMAN has ever looked in the home venue. Image sharpness, fine detail and texturing are generally very good, although portions of the film demonstrate some mild softness, which is inherent to the original cinematography. Additionally, the picture is more dimensional that it has appeared in past incarnations, and as a result, one will take more enjoyment from the rendering of John Carpenter’s wide screen compositions. Color reproduction offer some very strong hues contrasting against portions of the film where saturation more closely resembles the everyday. Blacks are deep, whites are crisp, plus the picture produces smooth contrast and very good shadow detail. The elements from which STARMAN has been mastered are surprisingly clean. Grain is generally mild, but the picture doesn’t appear homogenized.

STARMAN is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. Considering that STARMAN was produced during the Dolby Surround era, I wasn’t expecting to be blown out of my chair… and I wasn’t. Still, the sound is better than I remember, but the sonics are dated by the available recording technologies, as well as how soundtracks were mixed during the 1980’s. The thinness of Jack Nitzsche’s haunting music is probably the one element that really reminds one of this soundtrack’s age. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and always easy to understand. A French Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is also present. Subtitles are available in English and French.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some Bonus Trailers.

I have been a big fan of STARMAN for the last quarter century and am glad the film is available in high definition. The lack of bonus features makes this release something of a missed opportunity, but the terrific looking presentation, makes this Blu-ray release something that fans will want to own. Recommended.



Starman [Blu-ray] (1984)


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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