Retro Review: The Last Starfighter (1984)

A Popcorn Classic from the 80s
The Last Starfighter

Synopsis: When Alex Rogan beats ‘The Last Starfighter’ arcade game at the Starlight Starbright camper park. He finds himself being recruited to join a team of the best starfighters to defend their world from the attack.

 

The Story

In this bare-bones space film. We’re introduced to Alex Rogan who dreams of getting out of the trailer park and living a big life. His only escape is his Girlfriend Maggie and an Arcade game ‘The Last Starfighter’. However, all of that changes when he manages to beat the game when he is recruited to fight in an intergalactic war. Firstly, Alex is reluctant and insists that Centauri his recruiter takes him back home.

But when a member of the Ko-Dan Empire attacks Alex on Earth and puts all his friends in danger. Alex changes his mind. As Centauri brings Alex back to Rylas. They find that the starbase has been destroyed and very few survivors are left.

Seeing the destruction. Alex teams up with Grig and takes the last remaining Starfighter on a mission to defeat Lord Kril and his Ko-Dan Empire.

Meanwhile, back on Earth Beta Alex, an advanced android replicant of Alex is struggling to fit in.

 

The Acting

To this day. The one thing that has me returning to this movie is the characters and the actors that play them. Lance Guest does a great job of conveying Alex’s bemusement at the situation he finds himself in. Additionally, Robert Preston provides a somewhat comedic element as Centauri. A recruiter for the Rylan Star League and somewhat of a wheeler-dealer.

Catherine Mary Stewart puts in a grounded performance as Alex’s sensible girlfriend Maggie. She pretty much carries the Earthbound plot while her boyfriend is out there being a hero. She also has some pretty strong comedic scenes with the Beta Alex. And yes. As I was a teenager when this movie was released. I’ll happily admit to having nursed a bit of a crush on her.

Providing another sidekick for Alex was Dan O’Herlihy who plays Grig. Alex’s co-pilot. In the movie, Grig and Alex form a pretty good friendship as they pretty much single-handedly take down an Empire.

Rounding out the cast are Dan Mason as Lord Kril and Norman Snow as the villain of the piece Xur.

 

Overall

‘The Last Starfighter’ is a fun family film, which is wrapped in the trappings of a bare-bones space action movie. The film’s characters are all really strong and leave a lasting impression. Even those characters that get very little screen time.

The plot is pure dream fulfillment. I mean even when I was a kid. I would dream of being recruited by an alien race to fight aliens.

Much like Tron, which came out a few years beforehand. ‘The Last Starfighter’ was one of the first movies to make use of 3D computer graphics. And it would be fair to say that the graphics used in the film look rather dated. But in my view. It was the characters and the mad storyline that make this film as entertaining as it is. Furthermore, it is all punctuated with a fantastic soundtrack that sticks in the ear long after watching the movie.

Overall. For the grown-ups. This is nostalgic fun. For a kid, this is a film that will likely hold the attention if they can get past the dated graphics. For a studio like Disney or even Netflix. This is a movie that could easily be adapted into a television series. If they could find the right actors for the key roles.

8.5
The Last Starfighter
  • Story
    8.2
  • Acting
    9.5
  • VFX and Stunts
    6.5
  • Incidental Music
    9.8

Ian Cullen is the founder of scifipulse.net and has been a fan of science fiction and fantasy from birth. In the past few years he has written for 'Star Trek' Magazine as well as interviewed numerous comics writers, television producers and actors for the SFP-NOW podcast at: www.scifipulseradio.com When he is not writing for scifipulse.net Ian enjoys playing his guitar, studying music, watching movies and reading his comics. Ian is both the founder and owner of scifipulse.net You can contact ian at: ian@scifipulse.net
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