Director: John Carpenter
Writer: Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon, Dean Riesner (uncredited)
Cinematographer: Donald M. Morgan
by Jon Cvack
Jeff Bridges plays an alien referred to as 'Starman' who lands on Earth and takes on the body of Jenny Hayden's dead husband. She was in love and has been miserable ever since. Before we get going, whatever happened to Karen Allen? She epitomizes 80s sweetness and after The Sandlot, which was long after Scrooged, she didn’t do much. I suspect it had something to do with Hollywood's disdain for women after 40, which is a travesty since she's incredible. Regardless, we all know where this story's going. We know they’re going to fall in love. Yet the movie portrays midwestern life so well that I completely forgot about all of the tropes and uninspired arcs.
The movie harkens back to the alien invasion films of the 50s - The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Thing from Another Planet, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, etc. We pretty much agree that the collective conscious feared a Russian infiltration or attack and the films reflected such. The same logic seems to apply to the 80s with movies such as War Games, Rocky V, Red Dawn, so on which explored the Cold War during the Reagan years and heightened tension with the USSR.
Starman contains the same political undertones of 50s sci-fi : the conservative view reflected by an Army that rescue those in danger while ignoring science (i.e., The Thing from Another Planet, Them!), and the liberals reflected by scientists disproving the danger of the alien (i.e., The Day the Earth Stood Still, Invaders from Mars). Starman follows the latter category with its scientist Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) as one of the most poorly cast supporting characters of all time. It’s no wonder he fails. No one believes him because he looks like an idiot and an asshole, especially when he’s smoking that cigar.
But what's it all result in? That’s what I don’t understand. Jenny’s husband died, she’s lonely, by sheer luck an alien crashes near her backyard, finds a piece of the husband’s DNA, becomes him, and who learns the lesson? Starman sees that Earth is shitty and then leaves. Jenny is left behind with no husband. I don’t know what I’m really suppose to take away from that. I keep on reading the fans saying, “Hope, Hope”. Hope for what? In the end the two most important people are in the exact situation they were in before the movie began. Nothing’s different and it’s actually kind of sad.
BELOW: Charles Martin Smith as one of the worst sci-fi film scientists of all time. I'm sorry it's missing his cigar.
Thoughts on films, old and new
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