• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Starman

TITLE: Starman

YEAR: 1984

GENRE: Science Fiction

John Carpenter was one of the very best horror and science fiction directors of the 1980’s, and fans of his work will have spirited discussions about which of his films were his best work. In the horror genre it is pretty much agreed that Halloween is his best work (although my personal favorite is The Fog), but his science fiction films will create more arguments. Some will say Escape From New York, and I must agree that Kurt Russell gives an epic performance as Snake Plissken. Others will bring up They Live and the performance of Roddy Piper and its strong statements about advertising and marketing. Yet others will mention The Thing and its fascinating look at paranoia and amazing monster effects. All three are excellent films, but I would not say that none are his best film in the science fiction genre. My personal leanings would be toward Starman, a wonderful adventure drama that quite possibly is the most romantic sci-fi film ever made.

The premise of the film evolves around Voyager II, a probe launched by NASA in 1977 that included an invitation to any alien life form to come to Earth and visit the planet sometime. What if an alien society actually found Voyager II and took the invitation seriously? The single alien is greeted by F-14 fighter jets and shot out of the sky, and the alien called the Starman (played by Jeff Bridges) is forced to hide by leaving his spaceship and cloning a recently deceased house painter named Scott Hayden. Widow Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen) sees the clone and becomes scared, and the Starman is forced to kidnap her so that he can make his rendezvous with his species in a few days in Arizona. As soon as the ruins are confirmed to be a spaceship the traveler piques the interest of SETI investigator Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) who wishes to interview the Starman and government worker George Fox (Richard Jaeckel) who wants to destroy the unwanted visitor. Jenny discovers that the Starman must arrive in Arizona in three days or the carbon copy of her dead soul mate will die, and the race is on to save the alien.

The best part of Starman is the fabulous acting of both Bridges and Allen, as it could be the best performance for both of them; Bridges actually received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of the alien. The script by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon (both later wrote Stand By Me) is fantastic and combines some exciting elements, interesting dramatic moments, and some humor. The conversations with Jenny trying to define love to the Starman (Jenny: “Love is, um, when you care more for someone else than you do yourself. When someone you love dies…shit”, Starman: “Define shit.”) is especially well done as is the Starman’s assessment of the human race to Shermin (“Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your best when things are worst”). The scene at the stoplight is very funny especially the facial expression of the Starman as a multi-car accident unfolds behind him. The best aspect of Starman is the evolution of Jenny Hagen from a grieving widow to a strong woman who is able to close the gaping wound in her soul by having the opportunity to spend additional time with a clone of her deceased husband and being able to say goodbye to Scott in more ways than one. The music in Starman is also some of the very best ever written by Carpenter as it adds an ethereal element to the background.

An interesting fact is that Columbia Studios had a similar script to Starman and decided to release that film to another studio, which later turned into E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Despite this financial mistake, Starman was a modest theatrical success and did create a short-lived television series of the same name in 1986; sadly, the television series has yet to see a DVD release as of this writing. The fact that this film was nominated for an Academy Award in the days when science fiction was considered little more than popcorn flicks is testament to the quality that Starman brought to the screen. This film is unfortunately not as remembered as some of Carpenter’s other science fiction work, but it should be. Starman is a mature and simple yet beautiful production that should be required viewing for any science fiction fan. Guys with more nerdy girlfriends will find Starman a magnificent flick to share a bucket of popcorn and some kisses with the woman you love. It sure beats suffering through many of Jennifer Aniston’s films!

* * * * *

–Mark

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