Starman (Columbia Classics Vol. 4) UHD Review

4.5 Stars Terrific like Dutch apple pie
Starman Review

John Carpenter’s Starman makes its 4K debut as part of Sony’s Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Volume 4.

Starman (1984)
Released: 14 Dec 1984
Rated: PG
Runtime: 115 min
Director: John Carpenter
Genre: Romance, Sci-Fi
Cast: Jeff Bridges, Karen Allen, Charles Martin Smith
Writer(s): Bruce A. Evans, Raynold Gideon, Dean Riesner
Plot: An alien takes the form of a young Wisconsin widow's husband and makes her drive him to his departure point in Arizona. Distrustful government agents, along with a more ambivalent scientist, give pursuit in hopes of intercepting t...
IMDB rating: 7.0
MetaScore: 70

Disc Information
Studio: Sony
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 2160p HEVC w/HDR
Aspect Ratio: 2.39.1
Audio: Dolby Atmos, English 2.0 DTS-HDMA, English 5.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 1.0 DD (Mono), Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French, Other
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 55 Min.
Package Includes: UHD, Blu-ray, Digital Copy
Case Type: 4-disc UHD keepcase with slipcover
Disc Type: UHD
Region: All
Release Date: 02/13/2024
MSRP: $215.99

The Production: 4.5/5

NASA launched the Voyager II probe into deep space in 1977 with a message inviting any alien species it encounters to visit Earth. When the probe is fund by an alien species, they send a representative to Earth, who takes on the form of recently deceased Scott Hayden (Jeff Bridges, who earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the role) and kidnaps his widow, Jenny (Karen Allen), as they embark on a cross-country trip to Winslow, Arizona in a race against time to meet up with his kind before his cloned body dies. Hot on their tail is SETI scientist Mark Shermin (Charles Martin Smith) who is fascinated by this discovery, hoping to make contact with the alien. However, SETI Director George Fox (Richard Jaeckel) is more cautious, bringing in the military to capture Scott at all costs.

It has been decades since I last viewed Starman, and had forgotten just how moving and touching this story is. The movie was something of a departure for director John Carpenter, best known for horror films like Halloween, The Thing and Christine (his previous film to this one), but one would never know it if this was your only exposure to one of his films. This is a much more character-driven film than Carpenter’s other films (other than his TV-movie Elvis), the real standouts in performances being that of its two leads Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen, and supporting actor Charles Martin Smith. There is a real chemistry between Bridges and Allen, with Bridges bringing a wealth of innocence and an effort to fit in to his role that makes it believable while Allen is at first terrified of this alien Scott but along the way understands his mission and attempts to tech him what it means to be human. Charles Martin Smith carries infectious enthusiasm in his character, even more so when he learns of what Fox’s end game is for the alien.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

Starman was photographed on 35mm using Panavision cameras and anamorphic lenses in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio and released theatrically in 1984 in 35mm and 70mm blow-up prints. For this release, per the restoration notes by Rita Belda in the included collector’s booklet, Sony has scanned the original negatives in 4K with additional color correction and finishing that included grading for high dynamic range. The 2160p HEVC encode on this disc features both Dolby Vision and HDR10 high dynamic range. This is quite possibly the best Starman has ever looked, although it may appear slightly darker in overall appearance than previous releases (even the included remastered Blu-ray). Contrast is excellent, with deep blacks and strong shadow detail and highlights that never appear blown out. There is a dramatic increase in detail, from fabric textures to items in the far background. Colors are vivid and natural, never appearing overly saturated. This is a very beautiful image overall.

Audio: 5/5

Starman was released theatrically in 70mm “Six-Channel” Dolby Stereo (more likely 4.1 with mono surrounds) and matrixed 35mm Dolby Stereo. The restoration notes make no mention of the new Dolby Atmos mix, but that is phenomenal, adding more depth and ambience to the experience. Panning effects are seamless between speakers, as evidenced early on when Voyager II arrives on screen while playing the Rolling Stones’ (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction as it travels from off-screen left to the right and towards the alien planet. Reverb effects are added here and there to add a better sense of immersion, such as when Mark Shermin enters the empty space capsule or during a conversation in a plane hangar (these effects are not present on the included DTS-HD MA 5.1 and 2.0 mixes). Dialogue is clear and understandable throughout.

Special Features: 4/5

Although the UHD disc is movie-only, most if not all of the special features from previous Blu-ray and DVD releases of the film by Sony and Shout! Factory are included on the remastered Blu-ray (except for the Starman TV series, which gets its own discs).

Starman TV Series (1080p): All 22 episodes of the first and only season of this 1986-87 television series that aired on ABC are included, spread out over two BD100 discs (you will need a UHD Blu-ray player to view them). Each episode is presented in its original 1.37:1 broadcast aspect ratio in 1080p using the AVC codec and DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono.

Deleted Scenes (1080p; 18:19): A whopping 21 scenes are included (although many run under a minute), apparently sourced from a 35mm workprint.

Behind the Scenes Time Lapses (1080p): Includes The Light at the Window (4:58) and Pep Rally Prep (4:46).

They Came From Hollywood! Remembering “Starman” (1080p; 23:23): Ported from the 2018 Shout Factory Blu-ray release, John Carpenter, Jeff Bridges, Charles Martin Smith and script supervisor (and current wife of the director) Sandy King Carpenter fondly look back at their experiences making the film.

Audio Commentary: Director John Carpenter and Actor Jeff Bridges reminisce on the making of the film in this mostly scene by scene commentary track.

Making-Of Featurette (upscaled 1080i; 11:24): Vintage EPK behind the scenes short.

All I Have to Do Is Dream Music Video (upscaled 1080i; 3:59): Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen perform the song in this music video from 1984 that also features clips from the movie.

Still Gallery (1080p; 5:44): A non-interactive slideshow (even fast forward is locked out) of movie posters and other promotional materials.

Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 2:09)

Digital Copy: A Movies Anywhere code is included for all six films in the boxed set. Unfortunately, Starman is, at least at the time of this review, only available digitally as follows (no retailer offers the film with Dolby Atmos):
Movies Anywhere: 4K HDR10, Dolby Digital+ 5.1
Apple TV: 4K Dolby Vision/HDR10, Dolby Digital+ 5.1
Vudu: 4K SDR, Dolby Digital+ 5.1 (and appears to be an older transfer) As of March 21, 2024, Vudu (now Fandango at Home) has upgraded their UHD edition to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Overall: 4.5/5

Although currently only available on UHD disc in the Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection Vol. 4 boxed set, Starman has never looked or sounded better.

Todd Erwin has been a reviewer at Home Theater Forum since 2008. His love of movies began as a young child, first showing Super 8 movies in his backyard during the summer to friends and neighbors at age 10. He also received his first movie camera that year, a hand-crank Wollensak 8mm with three fixed lenses. In 1980, he graduated to "talkies" with his award-winning short The Ape-Man, followed by the cult favorite The Adventures of Terrific Man two years later. Other films include Myth or Fact: The Talbert Terror and Warren's Revenge (which is currently being restored). In addition to movie reviews, Todd has written many articles for Home Theater Forum centering mostly on streaming as well as an occasional hardware review, is the host of his own video podcast Streaming News & Views on YouTube and is a frequent guest on the Home Theater United podcast.

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Bartman

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Figures, I bought the region B Blu-ray a year or so ago before this was announced. I wonder how the new region A & B compare?
 

Wayne Klein

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I am getting the set for my birthday. Three of the six films interest me with Starman being the gem. Add in the TV series and it’s an essential purchase for me. Too bad they haven’t elected to release this separately. Yet.
 

Noel Aguirre

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Curious- Is there muchfilm grain intact to get that image quality? I don't recall from seeing this theatrically and in my Twilight Time release for this to be a big budget visual treat and more akin to a goood road movie.
 

Tino

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Available in 4K for $5 (2 for 10 deal).

 

Lord Dalek

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On the Shout Factory blu most of the grain was confined to the first reel.
 

JimJasper

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....wow, "Starman" ...haven't seen it in ages.
John Carpenter Starman GIF by Filmin
 

Todd Erwin

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Fandango at Home (formerly /Vudu) has updated their UHD edition of Starman to Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
 
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