The Last Starfighter (1984)

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The Last Starfighter (1984)

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 13, 2010 9:02 pm

There was period in the mid-eighties when a lot of the sci-fi film offerings began to kind of merge together and become hard to really distinguish from each other. This one, for example - like many - was influenced by Spielberg's input, whether directly or indirectly, and obviously by Lucas & Star Wars (1977). It all became a matter of how many innovative touches the filmmakers could toss in to offset the derivative storylines and visuals.
In this plot, we again have a young man (Lance Guest) leaving his mundane home to go off into outer space on some heroic mission, recalling the now-classic Luke Skywalker model. This particular sci-fi pic is a favorite of some because the writer (Jonathan Betliel) and director Castle did manage to capture some of that Star Wars appeal and included enuff innovation to keep things entertaining & interesting. It's a juvenile space opera combined with some crowd-pleasing Americana.
The young central character, Alex (Guest), lives in a trailer park, so it looks like he and his mom are not well off, but it's a pleasant existence as so presented; they don't need big bucks and it helps to have the cutest girlfriend (Catherine Mary Stewart of Night of the Comet) in the county. But, Alex does need a break; he's waiting on a loan, to go to college, and things do not pan out for him. His one source of escape and diversion is a video game at the park, which he excels at. Here's one of the clever ideas - the video game is actually a testing/recruiting tool for intergalactic salesman Centauri (Robert Preston), who soon shows up in a futuristic car (resembling the DeLorean in Back to the Future).

There follows the trip into outer space, the introduction of an alien civilization and the galactic threat - this last is not very new, even back then, a rather standard despotic villain to contend with. The story does throw in some quirky sidelights, mostly having to do with the 'Beta Unit' which takes the place of Alex back home. There's also a sent assassin to add some genuine tension. And there's an extra poignancy now to Preston's appearance: his character dies during the story (though this is sci-fi remember) and this was Preston's last role; he didn't 'come back' in real life. O'Herlihy plays a friendly reptilian alien. The early digital FX are very quaint and primitive now. BoG's Score: 7 out of 10

Starfighter Trivia:
in small early roles are Marc Alaimo (Dukat on Star Trek DS9) as the hitchhiking assassin and Wil Wheaton (Wesley on Star Trek TNG).
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