John Carpenter’s ‘Starman,’ a visitor reconsidered

Aug. 04, 2009 | 3:03 p.m.

Starman poster

Next Tuesday (Aug. 11), “Starman” will be available for the first time on Blu-Ray. Dennis Lim went back to reevaulate the film and its director, John Carpenter, in this piece from the Calendar section of the Los Angeles Times.

John Carpenter, who has not directed a feature film since “Ghosts of Mars” in 2001, seems to recede further into the margins of American pop culture with each passing year. Even in the more productive phases of his career, he was damned with faint praise, as a B-movie or horror specialist who never matched the promise of his breakthrough film, the slasher landmark ” Halloween.”

This was not lost on Carpenter, who supposedly once observed that while he’s considered an auteur in Europe, “in the U.S., I’m a bum.”

Jeff Bridges in Starman

This month sees the Blu-ray release of the director’s “Starman” ( Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, $28.95) and “Big Trouble in Little China” (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, $29.99). These two ’80s films reinforce the sense of Carpenter as a kind of shadow Steven Spielberg, a deft, sometimes ingenious commercial craftsman who recognized the unpretentious pleasures as well as the subversive potential of genre entertainment but was inevitably eclipsed by that decade’s dominant American filmmaker.

Carpenter’s “The Thing” (1982), a remake of Howard Hawks’ Cold War allegory “The Thing From Another World,” opened within weeks of Spielberg’s much cuddlier and vastly more popular “E.T.:The Extra-Terrestrial.” “Starman” is a transparent stab at atonement, a friendly-alien weepie to file alongside “E.T.” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

In response to the invitation of the Voyager space probe, an extraterrestrial being lands in the Midwest, where it assumes human form as a young widow’s recently dead husband. After a superbly tense opening sequence, in which Karen Allen’s terrified heroine watches her visitor grow from infancy into Jeff Bridges in a matter of seconds, the film settles into the familiar rhythms of a romantic road movie…

THERE’S MORE, READ THE REST

– Dennis Lim

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CREDIT: “Starman” photo — Sony Pictures

Comments


3 Responses to John Carpenter’s ‘Starman,’ a visitor reconsidered

  1. Brad Hansen says:

    Speaking of Starman , I wrote an unsolicited script for a sequel back in 1998. It was my first script and I quit college to finish it. It’s been gathering dust ever since. I sent it to Jeff Bridges and John carpenter, although I would prefer if Carpenter didn’t direct a sequel. I wrote some good f/x sequences and some interesting characters. I’m pretty sure I’ll never be involved, but I’d to see the f/x scene from the beach being incorporated, (Jeff’s manager Neil will know the one, totally plagiarised from another movie, but it would look great on film today).
    With thebrelease of TRON: LEGACY next year and karen Allen back in spotlight with Indy 4 lasy year, maybe now is the time to consider a sequel.
    If anyone has any questions, email me at hansenfilm@yahoo.ie and I’ll answer them. (Although I won’t give away any plot points. And yes there is a son and indeed, I actually have the perfect casting suggestion!!

  2. Heather says:

    After watching the original Starman movie. I always thought it was left open for a sequel ! He left Karen with his child and the stones. So if they stick to the story his son could easly be passed on the powers and ,alien intelligence. Keeping his origin from earthly friends and coworkers in his field . Then when a earthly crisis threatens mans existence . He will use the stones, to save our planet . With the appearance, and wisdom of his father who will return to advise him. Please forward this to John C it is time for a cgi starman !

  3. Heather says:

    After watching the original Starman movie. I always thought it was left open for a sequel ! He left Karen with his child and the stones. So if they stick to the story his son could easly be passed on the powers and ,alien intelligence. Keeping his origin from earthly friends and coworkers in his field . Then when a earthly crisis threatens mans existence . He will use the stones and knowledge to save the planet from destruction. As his father returns to help and guide him!

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