ARROW IN THE HEAD REVIEWS

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Starman (1984)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: John Carpenter

Starring:
Jeff Bridges/Starman
Karen Allen/Jenny
Charles Martin Smith/Mark
Richard Jaeckel/George
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PLOT-CRUNCH
An alien life form comes to earth and takes the appearance of a widow's (Karen Allen) dead husband (Jeff Bridges). They wind up having to race to a rendez-vous (yes, he wants to phone home) while the government is on their tail. Learning about humanity and love ensues!
THE LOWDOWN

I’ve always had a deep rooted fondness for JOHN CARPENTER’S 1984 STARMAN (WATCH IT HERE) and I hoped that watching it today, its “magic” would still work on me. Although it got its wind knocked out of its sails by E.T. The Extra Terrestrial upon its initial release (which came out 2 years before with a similar premise) and was a modest hit at the box office (which spawned a short lived TV series starring Robert Hayes that acted as semi sequel), the flick truly found its audience on home video and has endured the test of time to this day.

We never did get the proper follow up the ending of the film promised but of course, they recently announced a remake to be directed by Shawn Levy (REEL STEEL) instead. So I got that to NOT look forward to. Sure the effects will be better, the scope most likely bigger, but there’s one thing all that coin can’t buy and that’s heart and nostalgia. Which brings me to how I feel about the original today. Although dated in places (more on that below) STARMAN still held up like a champ in 2016. They definitely do not make movies like this any more in this day and age hence it was akin to a novelty. The first thing that stood about the film was its poke at us moronic humans in the sense that we “invited” aliens via the Voyager 2 probe, we asked them to visit us and of course the first thing we do when one shows up is fire rockets at them. And to make matters worse, once we know there is an alien among us, the powers that be want to capture and dissect him as opposed to having a dialogue and learning from it. The f*ck is wrong with people?! ;)

I wish I could say that this type of human stupidity was a product of 1984, sadly the same thing would go down if that happened in real life today. But I digress. After a visceral set up (with one hell of a freaky body transformation by effects wiz Roy Arbogast that echoed the one found in American Werewolf in London); the picture took a U-turn from spooky Sci-Fi opus to road movie and an always evolving love story, one that had me by the boulders the whole way through. I had forgotten just how performance driven it was! As I was witnessing Jeff Bridges character gradually grasp the ins and outs of being humans and Bridges “alien shtick" with his bird like physical movements, all I kept thinking was “ How did that dude not get an Oscar for this"? Upon some research, I found out that he at least did get nominated in 1985 – well earned! Bridges was hypnotizing and sold his character 200% which was no small feat!

On her end Karen Allen was oh so convincing as the grieving yet strong widow. Her character's evolution from freaked out, to wanting to escape to being helpful and then falling in love was compelling to say the least and thankfully Allen and Bridges shared an earnest chemistry together and were beyond a doubt the heart of the film. They were so good that they sold everything that happened around them - even the more "out there" shite. Directing wise, Carpenter was in top form, going against the grain (at the time that is) for a change as he was known as a horror director first (who had just gunned out a financial flop called THE THING and needed a hit).

Here, he ideally captured the wondrous American landscapes, knew how to rack up tension and wisely focused on his two excellent leads first and spectacle second. Tag to all that quality a handful of thrilling action sequences, circumstantial humor that worked (like the fish out fo water stuff), all kinds of heartfelt moments (the dead deer, the dead deer...), a moving musical theme by Jack Nitzsche, sly lines of dialogue (my fav being “You are at your very best when things are worst.”) and an effortless pace (15 minutes in this one was already in high gear) that served the ride right and you get an 80’s classic!

Granted, some of the visual effects didn’t hold up today (with the walking in front of the explosion bit looking mucho lousy now) and I did wish there were deeper bumps in the narrative, more dire obstacles if you will, but hey I’m an a-hole, so who cares what I say. On the whole, STARMAN was and still is a gem! A stirring character driven piece, with two stand out leads and a narrative that was always on the move, hence keeping me in its grasp the whole way through. Yes the film sported clichés, from the alien visitor and the road movie/chase subgenres but it spun them in such an honest way, that they felt fresh. LOVED IT ONCE AGAIN!

GORE
Some light blood and one hell of a transformation.
T & A
Karen Allen in her undies showing off the long luscious legs got my attention! The ladies and gay dudes get a Bridges butt shot.
BOTTOM LINE
I can only look at STARMAN from the POV of a child from the 80's! So you have to keep in mind that nostalgia did come into play in terms of my thoughts on the film. STARMAN was gorgeously shot, well paced, sported a slew of affecting scenes, some cool action, an effective sense of humor and one hell of a love story perfectly conveyed by two thespians (big word, go with it) who were on top of their game! Yeah some of the visuals effects were dated and more severe obstacles in terms of their trek would have been swell but on the whole - I LOVED IT and if you haven’t discovered the picture yet, I urge you to do so before the sure to be glossy and inferior remake comes out.
BULL'S EYE
After E.T. came out and killed it. STARMAN was shelved for 3 years due to its similarities to it.

Tom Cruise and Kevin Bacon were up for the STARMAN role for a while there.

Michael Douglas was a producer on the film and on the impending remake.
Strikeback
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