The Last Starfighter

Last Starfighter

The Last Starfighter is a science fiction film about a teenager who beats an arcade game, which turns out to be a recruiting tool for an endangered alien race and leads him to become a starfighter pilot. I saw this movie for the first time a couple weeks ago and thought, "I want to write about this." It's 24 years old and incredibly outdated, but it's one of those films that I wish I had seen as a kid, because I know it would have been truly magical.

This is going to be an informal review of the movie, I'd rather just discuss it and talk about some things I noticed. You may be wondering why the heck a video game website is doing movie reviews, and I'm kind of wondering that myself, but because of its video game themes, I think it is appropriate.

Basic Plot

An intergalactic war is being waged between the Rylan Star League and the Ko-Dan Empire (can you guess who the bad guys are?). With the Rylans on their last line of defense on planet Rylos, a galaxy-wide recruitment program is started to find gifted starfighters. Earth teenager Alex Rogan unknowingly passes their recruiting tests by conquering an arcade game! He is picked up by the alien recruiter Centauri, and whisked away to Rylos leaving his girlfriend and family behind. Along with his alien navigator Grig, Alex ends up defeating the Ko-Dan and saving the galaxy.

Last Starfighter Alex Rogan Record Buster

You gonna bust the record! He's going for the record!

Quite possibly the most epic scene in the movie is when Alex defeats the Starfighter arcade game set up at the local watering hole. He's obviously played the game a million times and always comes so close to beating it. Alex is pissed off about working a job he doesn't get paid for and his girlfriend is off with some redneck jocks. Even though he's distracted by all this, he starts racking up a huge score. Alex's girlfriend Maggie finally shows up, and somehow they make up while he plays on. Here's a man who can multitask!

The area pipe-smoking old man realizes that Alex has reached 900,000 points and shouts, "you gonna bust the record!" Hearing that from a 70 year old senior made me crack up. Then he runs off and shouts to the entire trailer park that Alex is going for the record. Everyone immediately drops what they're doing and runs to the arcade machine. There are about 20 residents there when Alex is declared "Record Breaker" and they're all going insane. It was such a surreal moment for me. I've had tons of friends who are into video games, but besides my sisters, every other family member has never understood the first thing about gaming, let alone cheered for me when I was "going for the record." I was getting goosebumps!

Last Starfighter Robert Preston Centauri

Robert Preston

Best known for playing Professor Harold Hill in The Music Man, Robert Preston essentially reprises the fast-talking, good-natured con-man in The Last Starfighter. He plays Centauri, the recruiter who plants the arcade game Starfighter on Earth. Once Alex beats the game, Centauri arrives in his cheesy looking space car and takes Alex to Rylos. He really drives the scenes he is in and from the special features I watched, it was obvious the part was written for him in mind. Kind of interesting that Preston would actually elect to do this science fiction role so late in his career, but he was able to replay the character that invigored his career in the '60s. This ended up being Preston's last movie, and I think it was a great way to end a great career. If you're a fan of The Music Man and Robert Preston, I highly recommend checking out The Last Starfighter just for him.

The Computer Graphics

All right, I will admit right now that I think The Last Starfighter features some of the worst space combat scenes I have ever seen. This movie has aged really, really awfully. I know that it was released in 1984 and that it was groundbreaking at the time, but that doesn't mean the 3D models were incredibly unrealistic and distracting for what they were. This film was a lot stronger when they weren't showing the Gunstars moving and shooting, but I suppose you have to start somewhere, right?

Last Starfighter Cgi Battle

The Humor

The Last Starfighter was a lot funnier than I imagined it would be. There are some great scenes back on Earth between Alex and his younger brother and Alex's doppleganger robot who replaces him while he is gone. Alex's little brother is obsessed with his Playboy collection and has some hilarious lines of surprise and anger. The movie is pretty light-hearted to begin with for the subject, and these scenes really helped The Last Starfighter balance out some of the more dragged out scenes on the planet Rylos.

Last Starfighter Alex Rogan Clone

Rest of the Cast

Lance Guest stars as Alex Rogan, who you've probably never heard of. His only three notable roles were in The Last Starfighter, Jaws: The Revenge, and Halloween II. I can only imagine how thoroughly bad Jaws 4 must be, and I've never seen Halloween II, leaving me to judge his entire career on The Last Starfighter. He played the awkward 24 year old teenager pretty well, so I will consider his career a rousing success.

Catherine Mary Stewart played Alex's mobile home girl next door. I will admit, she was pretty good looking in 1984 but her career reveals that did not lead to much. She was in Weekend at Bernie's which I never saw (actually saw the sequel at a hotel once...) but it sounds like something the Wayans brothers would remake. Catherine also appeared in Samurai Cowboy, a movie which sounds awesome, but from its Wikipedia description sounds nothing like the PSX classic, Rising Zan: Samurai Gunman.

Grig, Alex's navigator and Gunstar co-pilot is played by Daniel O'Herlihy. I really enjoyed this role and found him to be an entertaining and even decently written character. I was surprised to see that Daniel was about 65 years old when he was in this film! His character seemed so much younger, I guess playing an alien removes a few years onscreen.

Last Starfighter Grig Alex Maggie

Overall

All in all, The Last Starfighter is a fun movie to watch and I would recommend it to anyone into light-hearted science fiction. The graphics have aged but the story and humor hasn't. And if you've ever imagined yourself down at the arcade attempting to achieve the high score in whatever arcade games are left these days, and having a huge crowd gather around to watch, then this movie is for you!

Last Starfighter Catherine Mary Stewart

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I was very surprised to see

I was very surprised to see this film review here.
thank you so much

power wheels jeep

I found your site via your slashdot signature, and I was very surprised to see this film review here.
thanks

nice game and amazing space

nice game and amazing space movie remaining the childhood when we play the game .i like the space movies,The Last Starfighter movie is my favorite movie.

This is a great candidate for a REMAKE!!!

Does anyone else seem to think that this Movie is a great candidate for TOTAL REMAKE with some GREAT Lucas Arts Graphics and a more Intense/Serious theme???!!!

Hope some Movie Maker thinks of this soon, especially after AVATAR!

I have never seen "The Last

I have never seen "The Last Starfighter", but it sounds like something I would have loved as a kid also. It has a "Flight of the Navigator" feel to it and I loved that movie. I think I will have to look for this movie and see if it's really as good as you make it out to be.

About blogs and such and Starfighter

I'm going to be starting a games review blog soon, and someone pointed me to this. When I saw the Last Starfighter review I just had to read. Thanks for not overly mocking the movie that filled the void in between releases of star wars and a few star treks. And yes a lot of it is extremely cheesy, but as you say it is a fun, light hearted, sci-fi movie. I actually couldn't go to the movies when this was in theaters that weekend because I had went to the movies several weekends before, and I guess my Mom didn't want to pay for it or something :-) That being said, I pretty much wore out the video when I was a kid, rewatching parts I particularly loved, until I got to the point where it was no fun anymore. Then I hadn't watched it in a long, long, time and finally rewatched it on dvd. The music is really nice especially in dolby digital 5.1. Still one of my faves though. Just a shame it didn't make that much money, because a sequel would have been tres cool. And you're right the graphics don't hold up very well, (in fact they don't look much better than alot of pre-vis nowadays), but since the story and characters are engaging you kind of forgive it for that. It's kind of cool that someone who didn't live in the 80's actually enjoys a movie from it, I still don't think they make movies like the used to.

Keith Weatherby II
Uhfgood -AT- verizon -DOT- net
http://www.gamesafoot.com

Last Starfighter sequel

I didn't mention this in my review (thought I had), but it looks like the original writer and director are getting back together again to make a sequel, currently titled Starfighter.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1196243/

Too bad Robert Preston is dead.

CGI and memories

I've seen worse (or at least as bad) CGI in recent movies. I don't know if you're old enough to remember the state of the art from 1984, but this was beyond groundbreaking. Nobody else even bothered to try anything remotely like it again until around a decade later. I remember when this came out - vividly. I was drooling over it for months until it finally came out in theaters. I was a little disappointed, even back then, because it didn't quite live up to the hype. I still loved it though. Especially the battles at the end. My favorite scene was when the goofy bad guy is panicking near the end when the ship is going down. He asks the lizard/snail general guy what are they going to do now? The general flips his automatic monacle over his eye all cool, and says "We die". I mean, how cool is that?

Well, I was born in 1984 so I

Well, I was born in 1984 so I can't really comment on how groundbreaking I would have perceived it. I guess I sounded a bit cynical in my review of the graphics, but it's really tough for me to imagine them being the best of the best at the time. I think if I had seen the movie when I was a kid I would have ignored them, as I pretty much give the original Star Wars movies a pass now. Unfortunately, I was a spoiled 24 year old when I first saw the movie!

And yeah, there were some excellent cheesy lines in the film. They all felt appropriate though, good times.

born in 1984

Then, in that case, you have no knowledge that the films' graphics were generated on a Cray-XMP.
A supercomputer at the time.
It was a remarkable piece of hardware. Stuff they don't make any longer.

wow - that brings back memories.

I found your site via your slashdot signature, and I was very surprised to see this film review here.

The Last Starfighter was the first film I ever saw in a cinema, back when I was 8 years old. For the past few years, on and off, I've considered getting hold of a copy. Each time I had the thought I decided to pass, for fear the movie would suck and spoil my memories.

I think you've just persuaded me to risk watching it regardless. As a child I thought it was a great film, and definitely helped me become a fan of sci-fi films.

Steve

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