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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 10 July 2015
Well I love this movie, one of my favourites.
So I was going to like it.
Pleased with the material, extras, packaging etc.. all of which could be checked anyway before order.

If you don;t know Dark Star, it marked the directorial debut of two students on a shoestring.. Dan O'Bannon (Alien) and John Carpenter.
In the film we deal with the perils of time travel and relativistic love, incalcitrant aliens, bored staff, insubordination and philosophical bombs with existential awareness. Don;t wait until the Phoenix Asteroids bring this copy to you... go get your own
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VINE VOICEon 24 April 2013
This is a 1974 film from director John Carpenter, talented director of both `Assault on Precinct 13′, and `Halloween'. This is quirky, and intentionally humourous, yet like its title, has darker moments. The four crew members are looking for unstable planets to blow up. They have a cargo of robotised bombs, and a long mission behind them. They become increasingly unstable, and are also affected by radiation leaks. Each crew member retreats into an unusual hobby, as the boredom takes over their brains, and they become ever more affected, both by the constant malfunctions, and by the apparent pointlessness of their mission. Seen by many as a parody of '2001′, and other science fiction films too, it even has a soft-spoken computer, and a robot bomb that just does not want to take orders. Made on a very tight budget, and running under 90 minutes, it is still a special little film, betraying none of its financial shortcomings. An easy watch, and a rewarding one as well.
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on 22 June 2012
I will not review the film as everyone knows this is a John Carpenter classic.
Instead I will comment on the Blu-ray transfer, to be absolutely honest I wasn't expecting too much from this as the original film was shot on 16mm and blown up to 35mm for theatrical release in the US.
I have the original DVD release and it matched my expectations it looked like a 35mm blow up print grainy with fairly poor sound quality.

Boy was I surprised at the quality of this Blu-ray release! It is 100 times better than the DVD, of course it is not an all singing all dancing pin sharp Blu-ray with surround sound but then you have to remember that this film was shot 38 years ago and filmed on 16mm originally.
The Blu-ray is amazing the colours are vibrant the focus is very good in most scenes although a little grainy in a few places and the sound is much more intelligable and crisp.
All in all the studio has done an excellent job on this transfer.
If you like this film you will love it even more on Blu-ray and the extras especially the extended interviews are well worth the price alone.
I recomend this Blu-Ray to any John Carpenter fan.
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Dark Star is a curious film, it's not the greatest piece of science-fiction and is more ordinary than extra-ordinary. However it has gained a cult following and still feels like a unique film nearly forty years on.

Rather than gleaming white surfaces and futuristic luxury, Dark Star is an industrial looking film where instead of embarking on stimulating missions to explore strange, new worlds - the crew live in cramped conditions during their long, boring voyage to blow up unstable planets. Even having a pet alien on board doesn't bring much excitement - but then again it does resemble a beach ball with rubber feet. The film starts with the Scout Ship Dark Star receiving an incoming call to say that the gap between messages relaying between the ship and Earth is now ten years, that Earth is sorry to hear about a death in the crew and regrets the radiation leak - but a request for radiation shields is denied - oh, and keep up the good work.

Dark Star is comedic film bordering on the ludicrous at times, but it's probably more realistic than many other science fiction adventures. After twenty years the ship is a mess, as are the crew. Unshaven and bored they argue and get on with the monotony of daily life while trying to amuse themselves. It's clear though that two decades of drudgery has taken its toll and the mental health of the now four-strong crew is struggling with the confines of the ship and the limited company of each other and the computer. This is a film which has gone on to influence many others (it helped to inspire Red Dwarf and Co-Writer Dan O'Bannon developed several elements in his later film Alien), but there are influences from previous works evident here, the film is often labelled as a spoof of 2001 - A Space Odyssey which is unfair as although Dark Star has some obvious parodying it utilises its own creative ideas rather than just lazy reworking. The best nods to Kubrick's masterpiece have to be conversations with the computerised bombs, they make HAL-9000 seem stable, especially when one has to be talked out of exploding while still in the ship.

It's been a few years since I watched this in a bare-bones DVD release and was surprised to see that the Director's Cut is the shorter than the Theatrical Cut (1hr 11min as opposed to 1hr 23min) - I now know that this is because the film was 'padded out' for the cinema release and it's nice to get the choice of either on this Blu-Ray. The picture quality on the DVD I had was pretty poor and I was surprised how good this looked on Blu-Ray. Compared to most modern films it's soft and lacks clarity - but for a low-budget amateur production filmed on 16mm film this is the best you could hope for. The picture is much cleaner than I expected, a lot of time has been spent on cleaning this up, maybe noise reduction has lost some detail but I was impressed. The ship interior now looks more cluttered and it's easier to notice the various health and safety signs on airlocks and signs. The audio isn't always great, the sound effects are clear (and gloriously retro) but speech sometimes suffers from poor clarity. I was hoping for a good collection of bonus features but the only significant bonus is a documentary called "Let there be light: The odyssey of Dark Star" - thankfully it's a very good one. At nearly 2 hours in duration it's much longer than either cut of the film and covers not just Dark Star but the state of the film industry in the '60s and the impact of the UCLA which saw a crucible of talent emerge. It discusses the influence of 2001: A Space Odyssey and contains video interviews, telephone interviews and clips from the film. Watching the documentary before the film might give away a few spoilers but it may help those who aren't a big fan to appreciate it more.

In a nutshell: Sometimes space travel isn't all sexy aliens or poignant explorations into the past and future of humanity - sometimes it closer resembles the humdrum of life and that's something we can all relate to. This is a film which gets better with each viewing and the hand-made look gives it a real charm, impressively though some of the special effects still look fairly good.
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on 10 May 2002
This is one of my top ten favourite films of all time - why? Especially as I'm not a science fiction fan. But I like the way it injects some humour, realism and cynicism into the "glamour" of space travel - how would you feel if you'd been stuck out in space with the same 3 guys for 20 years and Congress weren't going to pay for a rescue ship for a bit longer because of budget cuts? Low budget, but all the characters ring true. And any film with a guy hanging half in, half out of the bottom of a lift waving his legs frantically and listening to Rossini's "Barber of Seville", who has got there by a totally logical and natural sequence of actions, has got to have something going for it! How much you enjoy it probably depends on what appeals to your sense of humour.
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on 31 March 2012
This is one of my favourite films, Yes, the quality is not as good as a new modern day film, it was made in the 1970's....on 16mm, but the restoration is good enough to watch and enjoy the film. Just focus on the story and the characters and you will forget that the image quality is not as good as some recent films in your collection. Incidentally , I don't know if anyone else who has this film has noticed that the end sequence, the last 10 mins or so, is actually taken from a short story by Ray Bradbury. I forget which book it's from but it is either 'The Golden Apples of the Sun'...or 'Dandilion Wine', or The 'Illustrated Man', or 'The Martian Chronicles' (aka The 'Silver locust's)They are only ones I have read in the last 12 months And I remember reading it in one of those books. i have returned all books to the library so I can't check, but maybe some one else has read it also.
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on 9 May 2000
I'm fond of this film, which shows just how much can be done with how little, but I really can't recommend this region 2 pressing: the sound is very distorted, and the picture is soft and murky. Unless you're a die-hard fan, hang on until somebody finds a better print and makes a new master from it.
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on 28 June 2009
Dark Star [DVD] [1974]
Dark Star -- 30th Anniversary Special Edition [DVD] [1974]
Having bought the straight DVD I was immediately disappointed at the poor visual and sound quality. I even concluded it might be a bootleg. My reason for that is that scenes that were obviously recorded as stable still shots actually noticeably wobble, as if recorded by some unsteady copying device or camera. Since I really wanted this film I bought the anniversary edition, which has the same low quality. However the latter has two versions of the film, so is the one to keep.

Don't let this take away from the fact that this is a great little film, which is still enjoyable, even with the defective mastering. I have been waiting a long time to get this so no regrets. If a better master comes along I will buy it. This film is now old but still works well. It was a kind-of take-off of the revolutionary 2001, with it female equivalent of 2001's HAL, which found it needed argue with an intelligent bomb. Best appreciated for its irony back then, but still relevant now.

Note that the anniversary edition would not play on my Sony Blu Ray, until I got a later driver update.
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VINE VOICEon 19 November 2009
There's a lot to like about DARK STAR. If you're up on 70s science-fiction films, you'll know this is where JOHN CARPENTER and DAN O' BANNON cut their teeth. Subsequently falling out, one went on to direct THE THING, the other to write the original screenplay for ALIEN. But without the experience gained on this, effectively an upgraded 'college project', neither would have been associated in later years quite so vividly with the genre.

Spaced-out hippes travel the cosmos blowing up unstable stars on a pre-colonization mission plagued by continual mishaps, including an intelligent bomb with an existential death wish.

Dark Star is a black comedy which pokes fun at the underlying issues facing a group of hacked-off astronauts who have succumbed to the deep psychological problems associated with being trapped in a confined space - within the realms of infinite space. A perfect handle upon which to hang their subsequent disintegration. And, boy, do these guys fall apart at the seams (even the cryogenically maintained head of their former commander has stopped dispensing good advice and begun a steady decline into gibberish). Only when presented with imminent destruction by a short-tempered and fractious Thermostellar bomb do they actually pull themselves together for a brief but hilarious ethical debate, man and machine in imperfect harmony. Futile, of course, and it's clear by now that things have gone beyond pear-shaped. But moments before what appears to be the bleakest of endings, earlier foreshadowings are thrown into sharp relief (then cleverly realised) and the result - thanks to the sheer AUDACITY of universal order and chaos - is an unexpected pleasure. That's quite a feat to pull off as the end titles roll to a country & western song, playing Dark Star out in marvellously judged incongruity. From such uncertain beginnings does a low-budget classic emerge.

Inexperienced, almost amateurish. That's probably why it works so well.

Welcome to BLAKE'S 7 territory, but don't get sniffy; shaky spacecraft and wobbly sets are an intrinsic part of the tv show's and this film's lasting charm. As for the stowaway alien/beach ball...well, the puncture kit probably cost more than the finished product, but full marks to O' Bannon for making the most of limited resources.

The picture quality (from a lousy degenerated video master) is hopeless, with washed out colours and poor stability. Don't we deserve better than this? A top-notch print may well not be up to the technical scrutiny afforded from a Blu-ray release but, surely, a decent standard-def print is available somewhere. At least it's cheap. And as I said at the top, there's a lot to like about Dark Star...so, for those who take their sci-fi comedies seriously, owning even a flawed copy of this little gem should be a given.

Now this is what I'm talking about.

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on 25 January 2012
I realise there's going to be people who were involved in the production of this Blu-ray reading this, so I'll try to be as polite as possible... I know it was a labour of love, with a smaller production budget than many other releases out there. So I know you did what you could. Not everyone can be Criterion. I'm a big fan of the film, and I've even seen it theatrically a couple of times, so I want to like this...

...it's OK. It's not great, but it is an improvement on the DVD. The sound quality is definitely as good as it could ever be, and even then it just is what it is: it sounds like a pretty shaky 70s student effort.

The picture is improved, particularly in terms of dirt and damage removal. There's clearly been some extensive frame-by-frame clean-up here, and it shows. Aside from that, however, it looks soft, hazy, but I guess as good as non-professional 16mm blown up to 35mm can look.

What worries me is a smeary softness to the picture that suggests DNR, and I can't see much in the way of film grain. An earlier comment [now removed, but quoted by a later reviewer] suggests that DNR was used and then fake grain added back in. If this is the case - and the grain that is there looks suspiciously even for such a raggedy film - then that's a very stupid thing to do. No-one who's ever seen this film expects it to look pristine, and you must be aware that it's going to be more film-literate viewers who are the target audience for this. Grain removal is widely regarded as an unwise practice, and if you did that here you've disappointed a lot of people, including me.

The documentary is super-informative, but feels padded [with some ugly, repetitive computer-generated visuals and endless montages and clips of the movie], and I ended up listening but not watching.

So while I'm pleased with the package overall - it's a big improvement over existing DVD releases - realistically, it's just OK.

Buyers: temper your expectations accordingly.

Though if you've never seen the film, watch it immediately. It's a lovely, funny, sad, clever little movie, overflowing with creativity.
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