1984 – The Last Starfighter

by Alan Rapp on July 17, 2014

in DVD Reviews 

  • Title: The Last Starfighter
  • IMDb: link

The Last StarfighterReleased 30 years ago, The Last Starfighter is a classic tale of wish fulfillment when a poor trailer park kid finds himself in a world beyond his wildest imagination. Recruited through the use of a video game, Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is tapped to join the Star League and defend the frontier against Xur (Norman Snow) and the Ko-Dan armada. After an impromptu space trip courtesy of an unscrupulous recruitment officer (Robert Preston), Alex finds himself in deep space where the world of his video game is played out in front of his eyes.

Alex’s refusal to fight saves him the fate of the rest of the Starfighter recruits who are killed in a sneak attack by Xur’s forces. This leaves Alex alone as the last Starfighter pilot and the only one between Xur’s conquest of the galaxy. Casting Catherine Mary Stewart as the girlfriend back home, having her own misadventures with an android left in his place, and Dan O’Herlihy as Alex’s co-pilot and friend Grig, the movie offers a twist on the basic hero’s journey with humor, drama, some early computer effects (which still look pretty damn good 30 years later), and a love story which will eventually lead Alex back home after finally finding his place in the universe.

Along with the original Tron, The Last Starfighter is one of the few films to successful translate and transcend a basic video game-style premise into a full-length feature film. With a likable but reluctant hero, one of the coolest spaceships in cinema history, a variety of interesting aliens, and some terrific supporting performances from the likes of Stewart and Preston (along with the trailer park locals), The Last Starfighter continues to entertain in a way that many current sci-fi action films fail to accomplish despite the advances of computer effects over the past three decades. Alex Rogan is a hero worth rooting for and his journey is one worth savoring, no matter how many times you’ve made the trip before.

The movie has been released on DVD and Blu-ray multiple times including a 25th Anniversary Edition which includes and commentary from director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb, and a four-part documentary on the film’s creation and legacy.

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