Netflix Gets The Best 1980s Sci-Fi Movie You Haven’t Seen In Decades

By Charlene Badasie | Published


The 1984 sci-fi romance Starman is streaming on Netflix. The movie is directed by John Carpenter from a script by Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon. Dean Riesner was later tasked with re-writes but remained uncredited. The film stars and starring Jeff Bridges as Scott Hayden / Star Man, Karen Allen as Jenny Hayden, Charles Martin Smith as Mark Shermin, and Richard Jaeckel as George Fox.

The Story


Starman begins in 1977, with humanity sending out a message of peace via a space probe, inviting extraterrestrial civilizations to visit Earth. However, when an alien scout vessel responds and attempts to establish contact, the U.S. government shoots it down in fear. The alien craft crashes in Chequamegon Bay, Wisconsin, where it’s discovered by the widowed Jenny Hayden.

Jenny sees the alien (depicted as a glowing ball of energy) clone a body for himself using DNA from her deceased husband, Scott. This alien, called Starman, carries seven silver spheres granting him remarkable abilities. He urgently sends a message to his people, informing them of Earth’s hostility and arranging a rendezvous in Arizona.

Starman’s Quest


Initially terrified, Jenny gradually communicates with Starman, who assures her of his peaceful intentions. He explains that he must reach the rendezvous point in three days or he will die. Sympathizing with him, Jenny decides to help, teaching him about human customs and assisting him on the journey. Their bond deepens as Jenny witnesses Starman’s extraordinary abilities.

The Romance

Along the way, Jenny and Starman form a deep bond as they evade capture and encounter various obstacles. Their romantic relationship (despite their vastly different origins) serves as a central focus of the film, proving that empathy, understanding, and love transcend boundaries. They eventually arrive at the designated rendezvous point in Arizona, where the alien’s rescue ship awaits.

Developing Starman

Starman went through a five-year process of development at Columbia Pictures. The initial screenplay caught the attention of executive producer Michael Douglas, who urged the studio to acquire it before considering Steven Spielberg‘s Night Skies. After director Mark Rydell exited the project due to disagreements with Douglas, screenwriter Dean Riesner joined the movie in late 1981.

Columbia eventually decided to abandon Night Skies, deeming it too much like a Disney film aimed at children. Meanwhile, Starman was intended for a more mature audience. Night Skies was eventually retitled E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which went on to become the highest-grossing film of its time. Riesner was tasked with maintaining Starman’s essence to distinguish it from E.T.

The Reception


In its first weekend at the box office, Starman earned an impressive $2.9 million. The film was also a hit with critics and currently holds an 86 percent approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The site’s general consensus praises the movie for blending sci-fi with an unconventional, heartwarming story.

Metacritic, another review aggregator, gave the film a score of 71 out of 100, based on evaluations from seven critics, indicating that Starman received generally favorable reviews. Overall, the movie is remembered as a poignant and uplifting sci-fi romance that explores love, connection, and the human experience through the lens of an otherworldly encounter.