The 80’s was a time for Spielberg-style family films and space adventures. So many came and went, and a few have stuck around and became cult classics. So today we are pulling The Last Starfighter out of its VHS jacket and asking the question…
Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is a would-be teenager wanting more out of life, to not end up being yet another one of the kids that didn’t go to college in the rundown caravan park that he calls home. Alex spends his free time looking to the stars and playing the local tuck shop video game ‘Starfighter’. Little does he know that this video game is actually an intergalactic military enlisting machine, where getting yourself a high score could lead you into an intergalactic battle to save the distant planet of Rylos against Ko-Dan Armada.Man, what a kick arse premise. I just watched it last night, but writing that premise makes me want to watch it again!
There is so much to love about this film; it solidifies itself as an 80’s classic, and introduced full-screen CGI to little old me back when stuff like that just wasn’t possible. The first act of The Last Starfighter is almost flawless, it reeks of being a love child to ET and Poltergeist and you can’t help but fall in love with the characters that surround Alex Rogan.
Rogan is as relatable as they come; who hasn’t dreamt of getting away from their current life. He is proof that it doesn’t matter where you come from, great things can happen to anyone. Lance Guest is perfectly cast in the role and it’s shame to see so many years down the track that his career never really took off. The score by Craig Safan is also enduring. The second the opening credits began, I was instantly taken back to the 80’s. It’s a score that has stood the test of time, unlike other parts of this film.While it does have a lot going for it, it has a fair amount against it. Revisiting the film now, you just can’t help but notice how shocking that CGI actually is. The starships look like they are made up of about 2 pixels and stick out like a sore thumb. Was it actually even cheaper to use CGI back then?
A lot of the effects of the film are flawed, the creature work and the special effects makeup are awful. Grig (Dan O’Herlihy) looks rather phallic and is clearly struggling to breathe in his costume. The big headed Rylosians all look like they are spawns of John Lithgow and Ko-Dan Armada seem to be victims of Freddy Kregurs boiler Room. The costume designer and makeup team should rethink their careers.All this aside, The Last Starfighter is a film of its time. It’s an adventure film through and through and it’s still fun to watch and cheer on Alex when he takes on what would be his greatest challenge. While it might not have the best special effects, it does have a great plot and is still to this day a hell of a lot of fun. If you haven’t seen it in a while I recommend grabbing some popcorn kicking back and checking out The Last Starfighter.