The Last Starfighter, 25th Anniversary Edition, Blu-ray (1984/2009)
Starring: Robert Preston, Lance Guest
Studio: Universal [Release date: Aug. 18, 09]
Video: 2.35:1 anamorphic/enhanced for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, DD 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Extras: “Heroes of the Screen,” Crossing the Frontier: The Making of The Last Starfighter, Image Gallery, Feature commentary by Director Nick Castle and Production Designer Ron Cobb, D-Box motion enabled, BD Live features
Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes
This was one of the first video-game-come-alive feature films, and in my view so much better than most such features today. It was also the first to do all the outer-space special effects as computer cgi rather than using models, as Star Wars usually did. It stands up very well 25 years later and is a charming variant on the usual sci-fi ware.
The story is fairly straightforward: Alex is a teenager stuck at an out-of-the-way trailer park but to pass the time having become extremely adept at an outer space game installed on the porch. He gets a high score on it, with the congratulations of many of the denizens of the trailer court, and is later visited by alien Centauri in a flashy car who tells him he achieved a better score on the game than anyone else and is invited to a big surprise. The big surprise is that the game was a test to find a fighter pilot to recruit to save a far-off planet from a formidable foe who was attacking them.
At first Alex resists, but after aliens from the foes come to earth to try to kill him, he agrees to go to the distant planet as the last hope for the beleaguered Star League. He learns there that the enemy has destroyed all the fighters except for his and that if I doesn’t succeed in stopping them hundreds of different worlds – including Earth – will be destroyed. There’s a light touch thruout and engaging humor between Alex and his trainer-copilot – an alien lizard creature. He also travels back to the trailer camp via spaceship to pick up his girlfriend to come with him to the now-victorious planet. It’s a video game fantasy come true.
Blu-ray quality is top-notch, as is the surround soundtrack. The documentary on the struggle to create the first all-cgi special effects for the film under a tight deadline and budget cap is most interesting.
– John Sunier