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The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

81






Studio and Year: Columbia Pictures - 1984
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 115 Minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi Drama

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24


Audio Format(s): English/French Dolby TrueHD 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Richard Jaeckel, Charles Martin Smith
Directed by: John Carpenter
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Written by: Bruce A. Evans & Raynold Gideon
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: August 11, 2009







"Get ready. Company's coming"



Film Synopsis:


Director John Carpenter presents a romantic science fiction odyssey starring Jeff Bridges as an innocent alien from a distant planet who learns what it means to be a man in love. When his spacecraft is shot down over Wisconsin, Starman (Bridges) arrives at the remote cabin of a distraught young widow, Jenny Hayden (Karen Allen), and clones the form of her dead husband. The alien convinces Jenny to drive him to Arizona, explaining that if he isn't picked up by his mothership in three days, he'll die. Hot on their trail are government agents, intent on capturing the alien, dead or alive. En route, Starman demonstrates the power of universal love, while Jenny rediscovers her human feelings for passion.



My Take:


Starman is a film that I am sure many have been looking forward to for release on Blu-ray. My only experience with it was when it was on cable TV back in the eighties. It's a movie that I remember being fond of and appropriately so considering Jeff Bridges is among my favorite actors. I never got around to seeing it on home video but was very interested when I saw it was coming to Blu-ray. I wondered how I would feel about it now versus then. Back then the story seemed to take a backseat to its (then) cool special effects and the sci-fi based elements. Watching it now I found it much easier to focus on the characters and the story. Starman is a conceptually simple film that has an endearing charm that is predicated on the genuine performances by Karen Allen and Jeff Bridges. This is obviously a science fiction film but at its heart it's really more of a love story. Once Starman arrives on earth the script takes its time in building a solid bond between he and Jenny. Starman is able to experience things on earth that he cannot on his world. These experiences are both physical and emotional as he comes to learn that we are a strange species that is at our best when things are at their worst. Jenny teaches him many things, among them is the meaning of love, but Starman had already displayed various human emotions, such as compassion (the deer), on his own. I thought the sequence on the train and the gift given by Starman to Jenny was the best scene between them. We as the audience find it easy to root for them against the seemingly uneven odds of the pursuing police and U.S. Military. The script employs the age old and formulaic premise where man is depicted as the shortsighted aggressor who only seeks to capture Starman for use as a guinea pig. This is of course counterbalanced by the requisite presence of a member among them, in this case S.E.T.I. employee Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) who is empathetic and truly sees the potential in learning from an alien species rather than destroying them. Be that as it may it takes nothing away from the movie. I really like John Carpenter's early films (like this) and a select few of his later works. There is something inherently alluring about Starman and it is indeed a welcomed Blu-ray release from Sony/Columbia's vast catalog.




Parental Guide:


The rating is for brief sensuality, language and thematic elements.





AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


Audio: 78


  • Dynamics:

  • Low frequency extension:

  • Surround Sound presentation:

  • Clarity/Detail:

  • Dialogue Reproduction:





Video: 82


(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity:

  • Black level/Shadow detail:

  • Color reproduction:

  • Fleshtones:

  • Compression:

Starman comes to Blu-ray Disc from Columbia Pictures featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 channel audio that has an average bitrate of 3.3 mbps.

This is a solid looking high def presentation that doesn't quite compare to the best catalog releases I have seen from Sony on Blu-ray but for a 25 year old film it looks very good indeed. It boasts clean, well depicted colors that offer a good mix of secondary hues that mate well with the source material. Resolution is definable with varying degrees of fine rendering that appear scene dependent. Sharpness wavers, which results in some scenes offering lucid clarity while others are noticeably lacking well defined edges and finely rendered detail. Black and white levels are stable which gives a fair amount of pop to colors and brighter exterior sequences while keeping darker or low lit segments looking noticeably punchy with crisp, quiet blacks with visibly gradational detail in shadowy backgrounds. Grain is present with moderate texture and uneven rendering that's not always visually perceptible. That isn't to suggest digital manipulation but having not seen this film previously on home video I have no frame of reference (my apologies) so I thought I would mention it. Otherwise I was very pleased with the quality of this encoding. The high resolution Dolby TrueHD audio presentation does a nice job rendering the film's soundtrack. Dialogue has discernible intonation, with distinctive clarity and above average room penetration. This is a more or less front heavy presentation that makes excellent use of the left, right and center channels to deliver seamlessly integrated panning sequences. Dynamic range is extended but limited by the dated elements present in the recording. Sounds and effects emanating from the front channels have copious expression that extends well into the room. Surround activity isn't frequent and when applied comes in the form of discernible spatial ambience with some discrete sounds that fill in front to rear directional pans. The LFE channel is similarly used to add impact to the lower bass frequencies associated with the film's active elements and music score. I thought that this sound mix was not only well done but seemed very appropriate for this film.




Bonus Features:

  • (HD) 9 BD Previews

  • BD-Live enabled





Final Thoughts:


Starman wasn't a typical genre film at the time of its release. It presented audiences with a charming, suspenseful and romantic spin on a well established sci-fi concept. This was further enhanced by the charismatic performance of Jeff Bridges in the title role and the touching portrayal of widow Jenny Hayden by Karen Allen. Although technically dated by today's standards the film still holds up just fine. Those looking forward to its arrival on Blu-ray are in for a treat as it looks wonderful in high definition. Unfortunately its lack of any bonus supplements diminishes an otherwise solid offering that is still worth a purchase for fans.















Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews





Reference Review System:



JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)

Carada Precision Brilliant White 96" Screen

Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)

Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)

Denon AVR 5308CI THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor

Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier

Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control

Canton "Ergo" Series speakers

Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers

SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)

APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector

Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator

Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling

Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package
 

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Thanks for the review, Ralph. Since this is my all-time favorite John Carpenter film, I'm still ever so bitter that the bonus features from the R2 SD-DVD haven't been ported over. I do have one request/suggestion about your reviews, Ralph. Going forward, would it trouble you too much to, instead of just stating something simple like "(HD) 9 BD Previews", actually list out what titles the previews are for?
 

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Thanks for the review Ralph. Have been waiting for this to be released in the US for a long time. Especially the Blu Ray. For some reason I keep thinking this movie on standard DVD was not anomorphic or it wasn't avalible for sale in the US. Something kept me from buying the standard DVD, just can't remember what the reason was.


Jeff
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by pronghorn/az /forum/post/16958604


For some reason I keep thinking this movie on standard DVD was not anomorphic or it wasn't avalible for sale in the US. Something kept me from buying the standard DVD, just can't remember what the reason was.

Nope, technically it was anamorphic and the title has been in wide release on DVD for years in the U.S. What probably kept you from buying it is that (like many Columbia/Tri-Star DVDs) the original anamorphic release did go out of print, and was replaced with a full-frame only transfer.


Original, anamorphic, hard-to-find-unless-you-bought-it-when-it-first-came-out-like-me release:




Full-frame-only reissue (with the same godawful cover that adorns the new BD):

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Filmmaker /forum/post/16956141


Thanks for the review, Ralph. Since this is my all-time favorite John Carpenter film, I'm still ever so bitter that the bonus features from the R2 SD-DVD haven't been ported over. I do have one request/suggestion about your reviews, Ralph. Going forward, would it trouble you too much to, instead of just stating something simple like "(HD) 9 BD Previews", actually list out what titles the previews are for?

Greetings,


On a bare bones release like this I should have and will in the future. Depending on the number of bonus feautures and space/time I will try and do this with all or most...


Thanks!
 

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The gas station scene was filmed about a half mile from my house. Unfortunately, the station was destroyed in a tornado a few years ago. The red building seen through the bathroom door still stands (sure everyone noticed the building
haha)

It was they biggest thing to happen to my hometown since they filmed the motel scene from "The Night the Lights Went Out In Georgia"!!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts /forum/post/16960531


On a bare bones release like this I should have and will in the future. Depending on the number of bonus feautures and space/time I will try and do this with all or most...

As a passionate fiend for trailers (they're my all-time favorite bonus feature), I appreciate it. I've actually kept some discs just because of the trailer (for instance, I have the BD of THE PRESTIGE, so why would I need to keep my SD-DVD of it? Because it's the only source I know of to find the trailer for another title I have on BD, DEJA VU!).
 

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I went to our local Best Buy and they are not carrying this movie! They claim that their are hundreds of releases every week and they can't carry everything, except garbage DVDs of course! Even Walmart won't be carrying it! I will have to wait to go to a bigger city which won't be till next week.


Jeff
 
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