Director John Carpenter turns away from the horror genre that made him famous and instead focuses his immense talent on delivering a very pleasing romantic science fiction odyssey. Jeff Bridges is absolutely outstanding in the lead role. This is another in a long line of strong work from Bridges, and his work was honored with an Academy Award nomination in 1984. While Starman wasn’t a commercial success it connected with the critical community. This is essentially a ‘road film’ about a widow and an alien, but it works. That is a credit to all involved but particularly screenwriters Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon.
An alien (Jeff Bridges) from a distant planet crash lands over Wisconsin. The ‘Starman’ 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 his rendezvous point in Arizona. He has three days to get there or loses his chance to leave Earth. Hot on their trail are government agents, intent on capturing the alien, dead or alive. While on the journey the ‘Starman’ begins to understand human feelings and the power of emotions.
Starman is one of the over-looked movies from the 1980’s. It’s a bit slow in spots, but it’s never dull. The film is deliberately paced and as it builds towards its special effects-laden climax Starman generates emotion from the audience for the characters onscreen, human or non. Starman is a film that could have been very silly in the wrong hands. Luckily, Carpenter and his creative team have crafted a very special movie that allowed the filmmaker to (briefly) shed his image as a maker of adult-oriented thrillers.
Director: John Carpenter
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith, Richard Jaeckel