“CATCHING UP” #4 – Starman


Starman (1984)

John Carpenter

If there was ever a movie that begs me to see it based solely on its title, it’s “Starman”. Granted, it’s not that rare a name: there’s a long line of DC characters that have used the name; there’s a 1960s Japanese b-movie by the same name; and there’s the song “Starman” from David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust (quite possibly my favorite album of all time).

The director, John Carpenter, is known mostly for his work in the horror genre, most notably, movies like “Halloween” and “The Fog”. Ge got his start, however, with 1974’s “Dark Star”, another movie I need to watch for “Catching Up”. George Lucas was impressed by Carpenter’s work and hired him to help out with the special effects on Star Wars.

Plus, it stars The Dude/Obidiah Stane/that guy from “Tron”, Jeff Bridges. You can’t EVER go wrong with Jeff Bridges.

(To subject yourself  to the virtual equivalent of me talking in the theater jammed into 140 characters, follow me @stuffbyed. Note: I have my account blocked to keep those pesky spambots out. Send me a request and regret it when you sober up.)

-CATCHING UP! “Starman” (1984)
-I always find faked home movies interesting, especially before modern editing and filters.
-“Soviet space garbage” is a phrase that begs to be a band name.
-Waitasec, she’s passed out, but left the fire burning? This movie could’ve ended right there.
-3D model from a 2D picture. God I love old scifi.
-She keeps tissues IN the nightstand?
-There’s an accelerated growth in your living room, and you go for the gun?
-This woman is not proving herself to be too intelligent.
-God, and she’s talking to a racoon! Rabies, woman! Yeesh!
-That race can’t be too advanced; they use ball bearings instead of e-mail.
-I take it back: video messaging, interactive maps…ball bearings are the iPhones of the FUTURE!
-I miss the days when the the man in the foil suit was the alien, not lead investigator at ground zero.
-AND they make things burn and ‘splode?! I will switch to whatever cellphone carrier hooks me up with those ball bearings.
-Gun on his crotch? That’s not symbolic at all.
-Smoking cigars in a government research facility is only cool when Nick Fury does it.
-That’s gotta be the cleanest gas station bathroom ever.
-Silly Earth woman. It’s not kidnapping if it’s for ALIENS!
-I like his rules of the road better.
-Every good lab needs a record player.
-Weird. Only a few hours ago, she was all about getting rid of him. Now she’s worried that he’ll die? Bitch got issues.
-No one should define “love” when there’s synth music playing.
-From the waitress’ POV, that’s the most bizare break-up. Ever.
-Either ‘Yakety Sax’ or ‘Ballroom Blitz’ should have been playing.
-Your mom makes me a little jumpy!
-When you hang around with people named “Johnny Bob”, your gene pool probably isn’t that deep.
-Dumb cops. REAL dumb cops.
-You’re just coming to the conclusion that he remembers everything NOW?If I were him, I would’ve kidnapped someone else.
-The cop shot her?! Honestly didn’t see that coming.
-The downside to those iBearings seems to be whole one use per function. Maybe they’ll fix it in the next version.
-Y’know, kissing a girl when she’s passed out is probably date rape in some places.
-No kidnapping. Just Stockholm Syndrome.
-The guy blew something up and put himself into all sorts of legal trouble for some girl he met at a gas station?
-Great, and they hitched a ride with a coyote.
-This lady’s clearly the one from another planet. Talking about your infertility in front of strangers just isn’t done.
-THAT’s how you treat hypothermia!
-Huh. THIS lab doesn’t have a record player.
-Aliens don’t like cuddling.
-SPACE baby is more like it.
-Wow, he can impregnate you AND perform an abortion?! The world would be a different place if all men could do that.
-…for example, daytime talk shows would be lacking in some of their prime fodder
-Saw where THAT was going as soon as he asked what a jackpot is.
-“Cobra guys”? Maybe I heard that wrong, but this’d be awesome if trouble bubbles start showing up.
-I hate how aliens come from either utopias, fascist states, or war-torn worlds.
-His diet is mostly sugar. Human bodies don’t work that way.
-Guy from SETI just came in his pants.
-Sherman’s starting to realize that he’s bisexual. No judgment; just a strange time and place to do so.
-Machine-like beats are 80s for “shit’s getting real.”
-Wait, whoa, where did that building come from?
-At least the MPs in this movie don’t even try to shoot the spaceship.
-Lines like “the baby will know” are an example of how to set up sequel potential without it being forced.
-This has been another CATCHING UP Twitter report. Check out CU and other fine content at http://geeksyndicate.co.uk

AFTER THE FACT (may contain spoilers):
Compared to the other three movies I’ve watched so far for Catching Up, this one falls short. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it to a degree, and it was entertaining, but a few things (well, one thing, mostly) just didn’t sit well with me.
I’ll start with what I liked.

First and foremost, I really liked the special effects. Back when CGI was limited the awful, blocky shields in David Lynch’s 1984 adaptation of “Dune” and 3D models of the Death Star, effects were more about tricking the audience into suspending their disbelief (compared to today, where it’s up to an expert and interns and a room full of top-of-the-line computers).

Jeff Bridges. If this movie consisted entirely of Jeff Bridges making awkward facial expressions, it would have been just as good (and maybe even better). After my virginal “Big Lebowski” experience last month, coupled with his performance in “Starman”, he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. It takes a vast amount of skill to convince the audience that you’re doing everything- EVERYTHING- for the first time*, and boy does he have it.

I also liked the pregnancy-sequel-setup. These days, when one sees obvious priming for a sequel (I’m looking at you, “GI Joe”), one tends to groan…and then go whine about it on the Internet. But the pregnancy left the ending fairly open. Granted, the sequel came in the form of a twenty-two episode/one season TV series that has a 7.1 out of 10 rating on IMDB, the potential was still presented in a way that doesn’t stand up and scream: “HEY HEY HEY HERE’S THE PLOT FOR SOMETHING COMING TWO YEARS FROM NOW AND YOU PROBABLY ALREADY KNOW THE ENDING BUT YOU’LL SEE IT ANYWAYS!”

My primary beef with this movie is Karen Allen. Sure, she worked well as Marion Ravenwood in the Indy movies, but she seems so wooden in “Starman”. Maybe it’s the script; as one could glean from my unnecessary number of tweets, her character waffles back and forth between emotions and motivations all too quick. As mentioned before, I would’ve preferred it if Jeff Bridges flew this particular mission solo.

Despite the severe lack of David Bowie and/or David Bowie covers on the soundtrack, as well as a lack of superhero spandex, this movie was decent. Not an immediate must-see, but I feel I’m better off for having seen it (mostly because of Jeff Bridges).

*This is where everyone breaks into Foreigner and fist-pumping ensues.

GS Reporter: Ed Delaney

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