Starman (1984)

(On Cable TV, December 2017) I usually like Kurt Russell and I usually like John Carpenter and I usually like Science-Fiction movies and it bothers me to no end that I don’t like Starman despite how it combines those three things. The problem with Starman isn’t as much that it’s made out to be a sentimental science-fiction movie, but the way in which it’s presented: Blunt, crude and incoherent. It uses the tropes of a science-fictional thriller without committing to them or trying to make them subtler, can’t be bothered about plot holes and remains unapologetically predictable. Whatever Big Moments it has can be seen coming far in advance, with an execution that can’t really patch over the ennui with charm. Carpenter may be part of the problem in presenting a love story using the tools he knows best—helicopter chases, government conspiracies and roadside violence. Russell is generally blank in a role that asks him to play perhaps the most overused cliché in SF: the extraterrestrial grand naïf gawking at the world and trying to figure out human customs. It goes exactly as expected. While I didn’t exactly dislike Starman, I didn’t find much to like either.

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