I know I am behind but it is not my fault. See, I was going to review this last night but I got distracted by Jessica Jones, as I am sure several other people did yesterday. Anyways, this movie is one of several movies that I saw with my dad as a kid. You know, I think I can remember every movie I saw in the theaters with my dad and all of them stuck out for one reason or another. Today’s movie, The Last Starfighter, was memorable to me because of the scene where Beta was changing into Alex.
The plot: Alex Rogan,along with his mom and little brother Louis, lives in a trailer park, where he does some of the repair work around the place, but he dreams of making something of his life. His favorite past time is playing the Starfighter arcade game, a game where the player defends the Frontier from Xur and the Ko-Dan armada. One day, after he is unable to hang out with his girlfriend Maggie and their friends, Alex starts playing Starfighter and ends up breaking the record, to the excitement of everybody at the trailer park. When Alex’s mother gets home, he tells her the news and she gives him some news of her own, that he had been turned down for a loan for college. Alex heads back out, ending up back by the game, where he sees it start up and making some strange sounds briefly before a car pulls up, driven by a man named Centauri. Centauri asks who broke the record and when Alex says he did, Centauri says that he is the man that invented the game and asks Alex to get in his car. Inside the car, Centauri intoduces Alex to his assistant Beta, who Alex shakes hands with but receives a jolt, and Beta quickly exits the car. Centauri drives off with Alex and eventually heads out into outer space, arriving at Rylos. Alex is given a uniform and attends a briefing with the other starfighter recruits but he finds the whole thing overwhelming. After meeting a navigator called Grig and explaining how he got there, they confront Centauri, who is shocked that Alex doesn’t want to be a Starfighter. Suddenly, the holographic face of Xur appears, who speaks with his father, the leader of Rylos, and shows the execution of a Rylos spy before declaring that the armada will attack soon. As Centauri leaves to take Alex back to Earth, Xur and the Ko-Dan armada find a small breach in the forcefield and fire several meteors at Rylos. The base defenses begin to destroy the meteors but a saboteur takes out their defenses and the base is destroyed, but one Starfighter has escaped. Back on Earth, Centauri gives Alex a communicator in case he changes his mind and Alex heads back to his home. Once there, he discovers Beta, who looks just like him now, was left there to take Alex’s place while Alex was in space. Alex uses the communicator to contact Centauri but he is suddenly attacked by a Zando-Zan, an intergalactic assassin that was sent by Xur to kill Alex. Centauri arrives and shoots off the assassin’s arm but as Centauri is speaking with Alex and Beta, the severed arm points it’s gun at Alex and fires, but Centauri jumps in front of the shot and takes it, then incinerates the assassin. Alex agrees to go with Centauri and they head back to what is left of the Starfighter base, where Centauri ends up dying. Back on Earth, Beta is doing some repairs to his head when he sees a space ship land in the distance and realizes another assassin has come to Earth. Back on Rylos, Grig and Alex suit up and Grig shows Alex his Gunstar, a prototype that has more weapons and armor than a normal Gunstar, that had survived the attack due to it’s being in a different hangar. After giving Alex a brief tutoring on the weapons, they take off towards the frontier, where they encounter a ship near the frontier that fires at them and Alex is forced to shoot it. As Alex and Grig talk about their families and homes, Alex comes up with a plan to attack the mothership. Meanwhile, Beta is with Maggie and their friends and he ends up telling Maggie the truth, just as he is attacked by the Zando-Zan, proving his story to be true. Knowing he has to stop the assassin from informing Xur that Alex is alive, Beta drives off after it and sacrifices himself by crashing into the alien ship, destroying both himself and the ship. Back in space, the mothership passes overhead and Alex and Grig take off and manage to take out the communication tower, severing communications between the mothership and the fleet. They then head out towards the armada and begin destroying the smaller ships, eventually using the Deathblossom, a massive volley of all their weapons, to completely destroy the ships. The mothership, it’s weapons systems damaged earlier by Alex, prepares to ram the Gunstar but Grig manages to steer the ship out of the way and the mothership ends up crashing into a moon. Back on Rylos, Alex and Grig are given a heroes welcome and are asked to rebuild the Starfighter Legion, with the help of Centauri, who was not dead. Alex and Grig head to Earth, where his family and neighbors are shocked to see the spaceship and Grig. Grig proceeds to tell everyone about how Alex is a hero but they have to go and Alex tries to convince Maggie to go with them, who refuses at first but then agrees to go with Alex. As the Gunstar blasts off into space, Louis heads over to the arcade and begins playing it just like his brother.
The Last Starfighter met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 76% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The biggest complaint among the critics was the lack of originality in the movie, but they otherwise liked the actors and effects. The Last Starfighter was one of the first movies to use CGI for almost all of it’s effects. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning over $28 million off a $15 million budget, but would end up becoming a cult classic when it was released on video.
It can be a bit campy at times but I have always enjoyed watching this movie. The acting was good, especially Robert Preston (Centauri), who had some of the best scenes. The story was a mix of two typical basic plots, the man who wants to improve his life, and a planetary alliance facing off against an evil force. They may look pretty cheesy today, but at the time I remember the effects being pretty cool. Watching it now, they do show the somewhat blocky/angular look that was common with computer imagery back then. Still, this is a lot of fun to watch and a nice distraction from the usual fare that is offered.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5