“Starman” – Nathan’s Movie Challenge, Week 3
Here we go for Week 3 with a little sci-fi flick from the 80s that I astoundingly haven’t seen yet. Featuring an impossibly young Jeff Bridges and the only role I’ve seen Karen Allen in outside of her Indiana Jones character, I’m watching Starman.
I’m a huge fan of the 80s film aesthetic. There’s something about the color timing, the film stock, the grain of the film; it’s what I like to call the “Amblin” look – after Spielberg’s prolific production company of the era.
This film falls right in line with the same visual palette, and instantly brings to mind many of my other 80s favorites. While I did enjoy Starman, I was a little surprised just how simplistic of a story it was. An alien comes to Earth, its ship is damaged, and thus has to get to the rendezvous point to hitch a ride home. That’s the movie. There’s pretty much nothing else that happens.
Sometimes a straightforward story is preferred, but I was left a little bit underwhelmed. The movie’s also terribly predictable – the incapable government shoots first and asks questions later, nearly every “fish-out-of-water” trope is utilized exactly as you’d expect, and of course, the Starman has to go home at the end. Big spoiler there.
The effects – both audio and visual – are pretty crude except for a rather disturbing transformation sequence near the beginning that brought to mind the American Werewolf in London. The cinematography is attractive, and the film’s road trip feel is enjoyable – if a little nonsensical in its many detours.
I can’t say this will become a favorite among its 80s sci-fi contemporaries, but I’m still glad I’ve got it marked off the list of shame.
Starman was at the time of this review at #790 on my Flickchart list of shame (ranked #1255 among the best movies of all time). Here’s how it entered my chart:
Before The Hunger Games, there was Battle Royale. It’s a slightly different take on the same premise, but it did come first. Suzanne Collins has claimed she’s never seen the film before making it big with her novels, but the debate continues on how much weight that claim holds. Anyway, Battle Royale is much better than Starman.
I don’t really like hockey or Olympic ice skating, but I’m a sucker for a perfect romance script. Sorry, Starman. Your romance doesn’t hold a candle to The Cutting Edge.
I’ll take the doves and motorcycle antics over the alien road trip. M:I II wins.
I was pretty skeptical of Sweeney Todd before it came out. Burton has had a rough time following up so many of his great films early in his career. While Todd isn’t a great one, it is a particularly good one – and Depp actually handles the singing just fine. It’s stylish and effective, and takes this battle over Starman.
It has been ages since I’ve seen Beverly Hills Cop. I know it’s one of the better Eddie Murphy vehicles, but I don’t have a whole lot of fondness for it. I’m a much bigger fan of other films of his like Coming to America, The Golden Child, and Boomerang. The best movie Murphy’s done since was all the way back in 1999: the hilarious Bowfinger. Starman will take this one.
Video game movies are usually pretty terrible. No one expected Silent Hill to actually break that mold, but it did with its perfect cribbing of the dark game’s tone and atmosphere. All the right elements are pulled in to create a weird and surreal horror flick that goes places you wouldn’t expect. It’s definitely several notches above Starman.
Another video game movie! I’ve only seen this first of the series that Milla Jovovich has turned into a career fallback. I recall enjoying it well enough, but I’m not that nostalgic for it now. Starman beats zombie dogs.
Wow, what is with all the video game films here? Anyway – Starman. If you’ve never played Dead Space, Downfall isn’t going to really work for you. It’s a rather cheap, anime-style prequel that’s just more of a back story cinematic than it is a standalone film.
Starman ends up at a respectable #647 out of 1353 movies on my Best Movies of All-Time chart.
Stalker and Silent Running are up next. Look at the other films I’ve ranked in this challenge so far this year while you wait.