The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan



Starman was a change of pace for director John Carpenter. By 1984, he'd firmly established himself as a master of horror, thanks to Halloween, The Fog, Christine and The Thing. A science-fiction romance was just about the last thing anyone expected of him. The movie earned raves, though, earning star Jeff Bridges a Best Actor Oscar nomination in the process. Starman comes to Blu-ray in a special Collector's Edition on December 18 from Scream Factory, a company that has been very dedicated to releasing Carpenter's movies with bonus features that enhance the viewer's appreciation of them. This is another fine effort on their part.

Karen Allen plays Jenny Hayden, a young widow who is beyond surprised when an alien (Bridges) lands on Earth and assumes the form of her late husband. Starman has three days to make it from Wisconsin to Arizona so that he can be picked up and taken back home. He makes Jenny drive him, while the government tracks them.

Starman works on a couple of different levels. As a science-fiction story, it explores what an alien might think of Earth, sometimes in humorous ways. The character constantly observes what people do, then assimilates those behaviors into his attempts to appear human. The romantic angle is even better. Jenny is shown in early scenes mourning her husband. When someone arrives looking just like him, her feelings are stirred up. She kind of has him back, but also kind of doesn't. The screenplay by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon captures both the thrill and the emotional danger of this.

The lead actors do superb work. Bridges gives Starman weird little quirks -- twitches, funny glances -- that could have come off as silly in the wrong hands, yet work brilliantly in his. He makes the character just off-kilter enough to be credible within the story. Allen, meanwhile, gives the picture its emotional core. We empathize with Jenny's plight because she so credibly brings the character's whirlwind of feelings to life.

Starman truly is one of the best genre films of the 1980s, as well as one of Carpenter's best pictures.

Blu-ray Features:

Scream Factory's Collector's Edition Blu-ray comes with some cool extras, starting with audio commentary from Carpenter and Bridges.

"They Came From Hollywood: Revisiting Starman" is a 24-minute retrospective documentary in which Carpenter, Bridges, co-star Charles Martin Smith, and script supervisor Sandy King-Carpenter offer reminiscences about the movie. There are some fun anecdotes in here, and you can tell how proud everyone is of the work they did.

An 11-minute vintage making-of feature is included, as well, as are two theatrical trailers, some TV spots, and a still gallery.

If you're a fan of John Carpenter's, this new release of Starman will make a fine addition to your Blu-ray library.

For more information on this and other great titles, please visit the Scream Factory website.

Starman is rated PG for language and some sensuality. The running time is 1 hour and 55 minutes.

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