Starman brings an unwilling Jenny on his trip to find the crater in Arizona. Too bad the stars on the side of his chucks can’t guide him.
Starman (Jeff Bridges) is an alien life form who has come to earth in a space ship to explore and learn about the inhabitants who have sent up an invitation to visit their planet on the Voyager II space satellite. Unfortunately, when the ship reaches US air space, the Air Force thinks it is an incoming missile, and fires at the ship, causing it to change trajectory and crash land in Wisconsin. Realizing that it is in danger, and knowing that it must figure out a way to reach its original destination to rendezvous with the mother ship, the alien decides to masquerade as a human to accomplish this. Escaping from the crashed remains of its ship, the alien makes its way to the nearby house of Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), a young widow, who has still not gotten over the recent death of her husband. In fact, when you first see her in the film, she is sadly reminiscing while watching a home movie of her husband. The alien, who is very perceptive and has amazing powers of life, decides to model “himself” on the husband, and recreates him from the DNA in a lock of hair Jenny has kept in a scrapbook. This transformation is presented during an incredible scene showing the alien reconstitute itself into first an embryo, then a baby, grow into adolescence, and finally emerge as an adult man, all within a few minutes. When Jenny first sees the nude Starman, an exact replica of her former husband, she is understandably confused and terrified. As the Starman learns to speak English, he tells her that he must go to Arizona, and that she must drive him there.
Starman and Jenny stop at a gas station.
Meanwhile, the government authorities, led by George Fox (Richard Jaeckel), are in hot pursuit of Starman, after they discover the remains of his ship. They enlist a government employee of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) to help them find and capture Starman. Realizing the danger that he is in from the authorities as well as the deadline for meeting the starship rendezvous, Starman forces Jenny to accompany him on his journey. Jenny resists as best she can, leaving information for the authorities which she hopes will help them track her. But as Starman continues to assimilate human traits and language, he reminds Jenny more and more of her deceased husband. A pivotal scene at a restaurant where he uses his powers to revive a dead deer, shot by a hunter (Ted White) convinces her that Starman is not an ogre, but a special being just trying to survive in a hostile environment. She decides to actively help him in his quest to avoid capture by the authorities and meet his space ship. The remainder of the film deals with their developing relationship as she gradually learns to love him as a person, while evading the extensive search by the government authorities.
Starman revives a dead deer that was mounted on a hunter’s car.
Starman won accolades for director John Carpenter, and especially for Jeff Bridges, who received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Starman. It is an interesting performance: a human playing an alien learning how to act like a human. In an interview, Bridges stated that he prepared for the part by studying his young children, their mannerisms and how they responded to new stimuli or experiences. The film was well received by critics and audiences, and it inspired a television series that ran on CBS for a year. The plot is basically a character study of the relationship that builds between Bridges and co-star Karen Allen. You do have to wonder about the portrayal of government officials in some of these science fiction films. You would think that once in a while someone in charge would actually be interested in making friendly contact with an extra-terrestrial, instead of always ruthlessly pursuing them with an intent to capture, kill, and dissect them. This film is especially annoying in that regard, as the head of the Air Force search team brings in an expert from the SETI project, and proceeds to ignore all of his advice because he is a lowly G-12 government employee.
Jenny and Starman escape from the government roadblock on I-70.
Starman and Jenny meet up with Mark Shermin, of the SETI project.
Jeff Bridges wears black high top chucks throughout Starman, and there are a few good shots of them during the course of the film, but there was a really great opportunity missed by the writers of the film. When you first see the Starman, he is in the form of pure energy, and then there is that great scene where he transforms himself into human form. Like all “newborns”, he comes into the world naked, but the next time you see him, he is completely dressed in the clothing of the person he cloned (Jenny’s late husband, obviously another chucks guy). It’s too bad there wasn’t a scene where you see the Starman deal with wearing human clothing for the first time, and especially one showing what kind of reaction he had to lacing up those chucks for the first time. As far as the existing scenes go, probably the best one is when you see the Starman walking into the energy field of the mother ship taking his chucks with him into space. You wonder if the aliens will figure out why they don’t slip or slide, and what they think of the star on the side.
Starman waves goodbye as he goes toward his ship. The first chucks in space?
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