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Overall Rating

Awesome: 21.82%
Worth A Look70.91%
Average: 5.45%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 1.82%

4 reviews, 31 user ratings

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Last Starfighter, The
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by Scott Weinberg

"Video Games can prepare you for a heroic future!"
4 stars

Mention the title of this film to any movie freak who grew up during the 1980's, and watch a knowing smile spread across their face. In a genre rife with gloomy retreads, post-apocalyptic travesties, and mindlessly carnivorous aliens, Nick Castle's 'gee-whiz' Last Starfighter was a sci-fi fan's/video game freak's new favorite flick.

What sweaty-browed video game aficionado hasn't pretended, while feverishly pounding away on their Playstation control, that they were actually saving the universe? That's the conceit employed in 1984's The Last Starfighter, a lightweight yet wholly entertaining sci-fi adventure that's come to command a special place in the heart of my disaffected generation.

Our hero is the mild-mannered and anxious trailer-park denizen Alex Rogan. Alex has an annoying little brother, a hard-working Mom, a sweet virginal girlfriend, and an affinity for video games. After mastering the local Starfighter video game, Alex is visited by an interstellar messenger who delivers a curious message: The game Alex has been dominating is much more than a simple plaything; a planet desperately in need of savvy star pilots has planted these games on Earth in an effort to find new recruits.

Imagine that! Excel at a video game and you're drafted to save a distant planet! How very cool. Since we're talking about a movie released in 1984, it's reasonable to expect a few Star Wars and E.T. -inspired moments, but the screenplay (by Jonathan Betuel) strikes enough unique chords to prevent the movie from screaming ripoff.

Castle infuses the movie with a pleasant comic-book storytelling style, making The Last Starfighter fine for sci-fi fans of any age. (It's not a "kid flick", but it's fine for anyone over 10). The special effects vary from surprisngly effective to shockingly dated, but the sloppy bits are easy enough to forgive. The best parts of The Last Starfighter come during the set-up, as Act III often resembles just another series of outer space dogfights - but by then you'll be rooting for our somewhat vanilla hero, so the finale is fine, if unspectacular.

Lance Guest plays Rogan with a healthy dose of "Aw shucks" mixed with boggle-eyed wonder. He's hardly the most compelling lead you'll come across, but he fills the 'young everyman' character to a suitable degree. Dan O'Herlihy is lots of rascally fun (if completely unrecognizable) as Rogan's eventual interstellar sidekick Grig, while Catherine Mary Stewart is fairly wooden (albeit pretty) as Rogan's starry-eyed sweetheart. The crown jewel of the cast is easily Robert Preston as Rogan's new mentor Centauri. Preston's flamboyant bombast may seem a strange bit to plop into a sci-fi adventure, but damn if the guy's not hilarious.

It's not an award-winner or cult classic, but The Last Starfighter is certainly one of the coolest "cable flicks" you're likely to come across. Newly middle-aged people like myself will enjoy it for the quaint 1980's nostalgia and clever sci-fi concepts, and I wouldn't be surprised if future generations end up embracing it as well. As long as video games are almost criminally addictive, The Last Starfighter will quietly maintain its 'mini-classic' status.

Those who remember this family-friendly adventure with fondness will be pleased to know that the DVD is fairly stocked with interesting goodies. It may not be the most unique or intelligent space trek to come down the pike, but The Last Starfighter is chock full of clever ideas, entertaining moments, and an overpowering sense of "well-made B-movie charm". A great Saturday afternoon movie.

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originally posted: 06/26/02 18:07:09
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User Comments

9/20/12 Mike Miller rewatched this awhile back fun flick from the 80s 4 stars
12/10/10 PookyP A blast from my youth. almost Shakespeare. seen it 20 times 5 stars
12/11/09 joe it was an overall good movie. it was kinda too star tek like but generally good 3 stars
8/27/09 Laurey Martin A little goofy, but I really liked this movie. I even bought it for my kids. 4 stars
5/17/09 Anthony One of the best films of the 80's. I must have seen it 20 times. 5 stars
8/18/08 George Barksdale I have seen this movie 4 or 5 times, loved it 5 stars
8/06/08 L. Slusarczyk A movie thats fun to watch even if you dont want to admit it! 5 stars
8/06/08 E K Zimmerman An all time favorite that will likely be ruined by a remake. 4 stars
12/21/06 ramachandran this movie proves that the 80's was already very high tech, extremely inspiring movie. 5 stars
7/29/06 David Cohen An okay film 3 stars
9/04/05 Quigley what crap! what star wars plaigarism! what a stupid film! OK, i'm done. 1 stars
8/12/05 ES Loved this as a kid, aged now but you can't beat the scene with the death blossum 4 stars
8/10/04 kyotomatt I have loved this movie as a kid, teen, and adult. 5 stars
5/20/04 Don D One of the best. A good fun, feel good movie. 5 stars
7/04/03 snowconehead This happened to me in real life, seriously. 5 stars
5/24/03 y2mckay Fun Popcorn drive-in Sci-Fi made great by Preston and O'herlihy 4 stars
3/03/03 Jack Sommersby Good, imaginative fun. Appealing performances by all. 4 stars
10/12/02 Jaime Vasquez simple, efectiva..en fin buena para soñar si tienes 10 años y para recordar si tienes 30 4 stars
10/12/02 Erik Rosenbladt Awesome special effects for its day, still compelling today. 5 stars
9/21/02 Martin McFly This is one of my all time favorite 80s movies. Very much worth the DVD price. 5 stars
8/18/02 Matt Cherry I really like the acting. For the most part it comes across as real and unforced. 5 stars
8/10/02 Destruction Worker Yessiree, LS has got it all. Talking lizard-men and 8-year-olds addicted to pornography. 4 stars
6/30/02 honky harry set your cheese guns to stun 5 stars
6/29/02 Jim Robert Preston's swishy alien steals the movie 4 stars
6/26/02 Charles Tatum Fun, entertaining, and completely harmless 4 stars
4/03/02 Butterbean A goofy, cheesy coattail rider of Star Wars, but it's fun to watch 4 stars
2/23/02 Mark Lloyd Campy, but fun 4 stars
12/07/01 ZandoZan The Last Starfighter is... 4 stars
6/19/01 Dave good music score 4 stars
11/25/00 Jason Great Special Effects 4 stars
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  02-Jul-1984 (PG)



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