Starman (1984)

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Released 24-Jun-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Making Of
Music Video-All I Have To Do Is Dream
Audio Commentary-John Carpenter & Jeff Bridges
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1984
Running Time 110:16
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (62:02) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Carpenter
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Jeff Bridges
Karen Allen
Charles Martin Smith
Richard Jaeckel
Robert Phalan
Sergeant Lemon
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Jack Nitzsche


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
Czech
Danish
Finnish
Greek
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Norwegian
Polish
Portuguese
Swedish
Turkish
French Audio Commentary
German Audio Commentary
Italian Audio Commentary
Spanish Audio Commentary
Dutch Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

††† I really liked Starman the first time I saw it. I mean, Iíve been a fan of the director of this film, John Carpenter, for a while. I loved The Thing when I first saw it as a kid, and Escape From New York as well. What is different about this film when compared to his other films is that Starman really has a heart and isnít based around marvellous special effects or chilling horror sequences; basically, this film has substance as well as show.

††† The plot of this film revolves around an alien cartographer who is shot down on Earth after responding to the message of peace delivered on the Voyager II probe sent into space. He assumes the form of a dead housepainter, Scott Hayden (Jeff Bridges), the former husband of Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen). He then kidnaps her and asks her to drive him to Arizona where he is to be collected, while the US government takes up pursuit in the hope of capturing him and learning what they can from his physiology.

††† Really, this is a science fiction romantic comedy road trip movie, if you can get your head around that. It takes a rather humorous, sometimes touching, look at America through the eyes of an alien with no experience of what it means to be human, let alone an American. As he gains experience, he changes and grows, coming to love Jenny.

††† This film is great right up until the end, which I wonít spoil for you, but suffice it to say that the end just doesnít work quite right. There were plenty of ways this could have been done better, and in keeping with the rest of the storyline, but the actual ending was not one of them. It wasnít atrocious, by any means, but it just didnít seem right. It sets itself up for a sequel in a clumsy and ham-handed way while never capitalising on the emotional climax.

††† Up until that point, though, I highly recommend Starman and suggest that if youíre even remotely a sci-fi buff you should check out this rather influential work.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† This transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is the original aspect ratio.

††† The quality of the picture is very good, particularly given its age. Colours were very well saturated, and shadow detail was excellent, exhibiting crisp whites, sharp edges and jet blacks.

††† MPEG artefacts were few and far between with only the faintest of aliasing present. There was little if any low-level noise.

††† There was, however, quite a bit of dirt and grit which cropped up throughout. Instances of this were clearly visible at 10:80 and 101.52. Also, a big hair appears in the middle of the screen at 97.07. A lot of this grain and the big hair are present in the Region 1 version I own, so I can only conclude that these are faults in the master print.

††† The dual-layer pause is at 62:02. It is not distracting.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

††† There are several soundtracks present: an English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack; a French 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack; and a German 2.0 Dolby Digital soundtrack. I gave a cursory listen to the foreign language tracks and they seemed fine, although the 2.0 Dolby Surround track was obviously not as good as the 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks. Given that English is this filmís original soundtrack, it bears greater discussion.

††† Carpenter obviously came to this film with some very clear ideas about what he wanted to do with sound, as it plays quite an important part in this film. There is a fantastic use of directional cues in the early sequence where the spacecraft crashes and the alien travels across the lake and enters Jennyís house.

††† Dialogue is clear and easy to understand throughout, even with some of the real American drawl which gets thicker as the action travels South.

††† The dynamic range was very good, especially for a remastering of such an old film. The musical score, though obviously electronically generated, comes up loud and vibrant when it is used to highlight dramatic sequences.

††† There was considerable subwoofer use, particularly in the earlier sequences, but also to enhance the music track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

††† All menus are 16x9 enhanced. They are static with no sound.

Making Of Featurette (10:51)

††† Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. This is basically promotional stuff that was filmed at the time and probably aired on cable TV. The picture quality is fairly poor; washed out and grainy and obviously filmed on VHS. It does include some interesting interviews with Carpenter and the cast.

Feature Commentary - John Carpenter and Jeff Bridges

††† These guys play fairly well against each other, trading compliments, jokes and anecdotes. There are no long pauses, which is good. But this still doesnít come close to the quality of the audio commentary on Ghostbusters.

Music Video: ďAll I Have To Do Is DreamĒ (4:01)

††† This is Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges doing a rather appalling country version of ďAll I Have To Do Is DreamĒ. Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. Amusing in retrospect, but mostly itís just painful.

Trailer - Starman (2:10)

††† Presented in 1.33:1, non-16x9 enhanced. This is dated with rather poor video.

Trailer - Close Encounters of the Third Kind (4:40)

††† Presented in 2.35:1, non-16x9 enhanced. This is an extended marketing trailer which is really a quasi-documentary, albeit quite boring and repetitive.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

††† The R1 release of this movie is a bare bones disc with only the trailer. Unlike the R4 release, the R1 version is also prone to aliasing. The copy I own is far from fantastic and Widescreen Review did not give it a particularly flash write up. Given the bonus features on the R4 release and its lower cost, R4 is the clear winner.

Summary

††† Starman is a John Carpenter film with heart. Aside from its ending, this film is very good.

††† The video is pretty good given the age of the film, but with a little bit too much dirt and grain to be perfect.

††† The sound is great, with a fantastic 5.1 Dolby Digital remix.

††† The extras, particularly the audio commentary, are a fair sight better than what Region 1 version has to offer.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Edward McKenzie (I am Jack's raging bio...)
Monday, May 12, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDPanasonic DVD-RV31A-S, using S-Video output
DisplayBeko 28" (16x9). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationMarantz SR7000
SpeakersEnergy - Front, Rear, Centre & Subwoofer

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Comments (Add)
R2... - Dark Lord (Bio? We don't need no stinkin' bio!)
It's nice that R4 beats R1 every now and then... - PJ van Es (A bio - hazard)