"THE LAST STARFIGHTER: 25th ANNIVERSARY EDITION"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: **** (out of 5 stars)
BLURAY EXPERIENCE: ***1/2 (out of 5 stars)
Lance Guest as ALEX ROGAN
Dan O’Herlihy as GRIG
Catherine Mary Stewart as MAGGIE GORDON
Barbara Bosson as JANE ROGAN
Norman Snow as XUR
Robert Preston as CENTAURI
Chris Hebert as LOUIS ROGAN
Directed by: Nick Castle
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Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is a teenager dreamer from a trailer park. He wants to move away, go to college and make something of his life. Just when he thought his future was lost, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime. An interstellar recruiter named Centauri (Robert Preston) shows up one night to enlist him in the Star League to defend an intergalactic frontier against the evil warlord Xur (Norman Show). At first, he doesn’t want to help, but when Xur sends assassins to Earth at attacks the Starfighter’s base, Alex takes his shot to make a difference in the universe.
WHAT I LIKED
I don’t want to geek out here, but let me just say that I loved this freaking movie when I was a kid. I was thirteen when it came out, and the video game craze was in full swing. Me and all of my friends wished we could find a game so we could also be recruited to fight battles in space with real (or at least computer-generated) lasers.
A movie like “The Last Starfighter” reeks of 80s cheese, but for someone like me who grew up with this kind of stuff, it was the perfect escape. And I have shown this film to my children who have been raised on computers and video games, and it has the same amount of appeal to them as it did for me 25 years ago.
Although the effects seem cheesier than a bad television show by today’s standards, they were groundbreaking back in 1984. Full CGI battles with photorealistic (sort of) spaceships are pretty amazing, and the whole experience is brought to life again on Blu-ray.
Sure, “The Last Starfighter” had plot elements borrowed from everything from “Star Wars” to “Fame,” but they were used well to make a movie that can capture the minds of kids that dream to make the world a better place.
A key aspect to the charm of “The Last Starfighter” was the deft casting of Robert Preston as Centauri (which was nothing more than a rehash of Henry Hill from “The Music Man,” but that was hilarious) and Dan O’Herlihy as Alex’s copilot Grig. The result was a movie that wasn’t necessarily for the adult mind but more for the kid in all of us, and outside of “Star Wars,” it was one of the few movies that brought the Saturday morning cartoon to life on the screen.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
The biggest problems with “The Last Starfighter” come as a result of the film’s era rather than from script flaws. Sure, the effects were rudimentary. Sure the acting was cheesy. Sure the story was corny. And sure, the plot was utterly preposterous. But like I said, for a thirteen year old kid who spent too much time at the video arcades, it was pure cinematic gold.
The Blu-ray comes with a new retrospective with the cast and crew today looking back on the development of the film. “Heroes of the Screen” examines the scripting and casting, along with the massive challenges undertaken to perfect the then-stunning visual effects.
Additional features from previous releases include a feature commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb, an image gallery and a documentary from a few years back called “Crossing the Frontier: Making of The Last Starfighter,” which looks at the development of the film and gives an in-depth examination of the film’s visual effects.
The disc also will access Universal’s BD-Live Center online with an internet connection and appropriate memory requirements.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Anyone who was a video-game-playing kid when the movie came out... and kids today.