You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.‘
Today’s Key Movie:
Today I am discussing The Last Starfighter, a 1984 science fiction adventure film that starred Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart, and the classic Robert Preston (in what would be his final theatrical role).
1984 was an amazing year for movies, this year would release some of the most iconic films of the decade with A Nightmare on Elm Street, NeverEnding Story, Sixteen Candles, The Terminator, Ghostbusters and so many more. One particular film released that year amidst the giant blockbusters was a small scifi adventure by the name of The Last Starfighter.
The Last Starfighter follows a young, small town teen by the name of Alex Rogan, played by Lance Guest. Rogan is a teen dreaming of better things who, through the use of a Video Game cabinet, is inducted into the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Kodan Armada. This is a beautiful updated version of the King Arthur myth, with the Sword in the Stone being an Arcade machine by the name of Starfighter.
Why this movie?
Directed by Nick Castle (of Hook fame), This movie was just the thing for a small town kid such as myself. It was the ultimate escape film, small town human gets to be a space hero in a battle in the final frontier. How could I not like it?! At the age of 6 and 7 I was knee deep in video games with my flea-market Atari 2600. While everyone else was playing their Nintendo’s, I still played a ton of games on the Atari from Pac-man to Berserk to Yar’s Revenge. Partially because it was a great system and mostly because we couldn’t afford the Nintendo. This movie started with just that, a video game and lead to adventure! I desperately wanted this to come out as a real video game, Excalibur test or not.
Every kid at my age dreamed of being ‘discovered’ only to become a hero or become famous. This movie was about that and it was amazing. Incredible special effects, awesome story and fantastic world building. This movie had more going for it than most television series would or could aspire to.
How did this translate to real life?
I didn’t get to see this one at the theater, but I saw it on vhs and practically wore the tape out. It was mostly an escapism film for me. We were poor, so getting to leave Earth vicariously through the films hero, Alex Rogan, was something I tried to do as often as possible.
Not to mention this is also one of those ‘feel good’ movies that make you want to aspire to more. In the immortal words of Centauri:
‘Alex! Alex! You’re walking away from history! History! Did Chris Columbus say he wanted to stay home? Nooooo. What if the Wright Brothers thought that only birds should fly? And did Galoka think the Ulus were too ugly to save?’
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
Absolutely! Honestly, this film rate in my top 10 films of all time. From its fantastic script to the incredible score by Craig Safan and with the great special effects for the time, this film was an instant classic. It also doesn’t hurt that 80’s sweetheart Catherine Mary Stewart plays the love interest in this one. She was a gorgeous woman then and, to be honest, still is.
Being one of the first to use fully computer generated graphics for the starship and space segments, The special effects were ahead of its time. Although dated, they hold up well in today’s heavily processed affects.
The real standout are the performances of the late Robert Preston as Centauri and the amazing Dan O’herlihy as Grig. Robert channels his classic character from the Music Man and plays a clever wily swindler that recruits Alex Rogan ‘illegally’. Dan O’herlihy plays the alien who ultimately becomes Alex’s mentor, copilot and friend.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is one of those ‘cult’ films that is available still on BluRay, DVD and even streaming o your favorite service. Its worth picking up the 25th anniversary edition for sure and you should be able to get a physical copy for under $15. The digital transfer is fantastic and looks like it could have been released today. Here’s hoping that one day we get a sequel. It is WAY overdue.
Please feel free to comment about this film below! I Would love to hear your thoughts on The Last Starfighter!
and just listen to this score!: AMAZING!!!!!
Till Next time,
Late To The Game 4/10/2019 (Originally posted on 9/24/17)
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