Blu-ray Review: The Last Starfighter (1984)

January 15, 2021

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

Our man Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) has got it tough all over; he longs to leave the small trailer park he calls home and stay true to his sweetheart, Maggie (Catherine Mary Stewart)… but the one-two punch of the local yokels on his ass 24/7, and being recruited to fight in an intergalactic battle against evil aliens is putting a serious dent in those plans, let me tell ya cats n’ creeps!

How did Alex get the honor of becoming a real, live space cadet?

Well, he’s really good at playing a video game that just so happens to be a test put in place by an alien conman named Centauri (legendary theater and film thespian Robert Preston) to find suckers that are willing to defend the galaxy from big-domed scenery chewing super villain Xur (a deliciously over-the-top performance from Norman Snow) and his leather-faced alien chums, who just so happen to own a meteor gun that launches those pains-in-the-asteroids like missiles!

Did I mention this was based on a true story?

No?

Good, because it isn’t… no matter how believable and relatable to the plight of John Q. Everyman those above paragraphs are.

Anyway, what follows is a whirlwind of robot doppelgangers, razor toothed alien hitmen, Playboy mags, and a lizard woman with inexplicable tits.

Look, I’m not going to blow smoke up your collective asses; The Last Starfighter is full-on ’80s cinematic comfort food seasoned to perfection with video games, space battles, far-out aliens n’ robots, comic book villainy, and for those that dig on such things (and for coming of age Danny 13 in 1984)… the glory that is Catherine Mary Stewart in denim short-shorts.

What this film also possess is an immensely likable and infinitely talented cast (the chemistry between the aforementioned Stewart and Guest is fantastic, and Preston & Dan O’Herlihy as the alien in disguise Centauri and Alex’s reptile navigator Grig respectively, absolutely own their roles), CG that actually serves the story at hand, unique make-up and production design (the latter courtesy of Ron Cobb, who provided designs for Star Wars, Alien, and Conan the Barbarian), and an absolutely undeniable sense of fun!

While The Last Starfighter is a true delight through and fuckin’ through, the fine folks at Arrow Video (along with MVD Entertainment) have included a galaxy of bonus features on this Blu-ray release as well!

First up we get new interviews with actress Stewart, composer Craig Safan, screenwriter Jonathan Betuel, special effects supervisor Kevin Pike, and sci-fi author Greg Bear discussing Digital Productions, the company responsible for the groundbreaking CGI in the film (my fav of the lot, which is really something considering my disdain for most CG effects work… ).

Next comes an interview with arcade game collector Estil Vance on reconstructing the Starfighter game as seen in the film, a duo of archival “making of” featurettes, extensive image galleries, and the film’s theatrical and teaser trailers.

Following that we get three audio commentaries featuring: a new chat with Guest and his son Jackson (a light-hearted, humorous look back at the film’s production), an archival journey through the film’s creation courtesy of director Nick Castle (yup, the original Shape himself) and Cobb, and a new conversation with Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast giving factoids and the fan’s perspective.

To sum it all up; if you want the ultimate ’80s cinematic experience, then The Last Starfighter is the pic for you! It’s one hell of a journey from the trailer park to a point beyond the stars, and every second of this film is non-stop, grin-inducing joy!

 

 

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