The Last Starfighter (1984) – Encore Review


“[voice in video game] Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.” – Centauri

Number of Times Seen – Too many to count (Theater in ’84, 23 Mar 1985, video, cable, 9 May 2016 and 7 Apr 2020)

Link to original reviewHere

Brief Synopsis – A teenager who is an expert video game player is recruited by an alien alliance to help them fight a war.

My Take on it – This is among my favorite childhood films from the 80’s and despite it not being as good now as I thought it was then, it’s still an enjoyable film that holds up pretty well even after 36 years.

This is quite a fun film that brings back lots of memories for me and it still works quite well within the context that it is presented in.

The premise to use a video game to train a pilot was a unique one at the time and they keep things feeling quite realistic within sci-fi parameters in order to keep it quite enjoyable.

The film has a great cast and Lance Guest does a wonderfully believable job in the lead role and helps us care so much about his character.

It’s a shame that his career was never able to take off after this role.

Robert Preston is superb in a supporting role that allows him to steal every scene that he appears in.

The story is perfect for its time since the 80’s was a decade where standing video games consoles were very prevalent and it makes sense to make a story out of their use.

Recently, in Ernest Cline’s novel Armada, he uses a similar theme that is more updated for our time and utilizes personal video game consoles instead of the massive ones in this film.

The special effects of this film are quite amazing to watch and were state of the art at the time yet today they seem slightly archaic.

The story and plot are quite intriguing to watch unfold but things would probably have been more enjoyable if they spent more time developing the characters and the conflict which would make us care even more about what happens because things are dealt with much too rapidly here.

Bottom Line – Such a fun film that works so well within the context it is presented in. The idea to use video game skills to train pilots is a great one and they make things seem quite realistic in how they do things here. The cast is great with Lance Guest doing a wonderful job in the lead role. It’s too bad that his career never really took off. Preston tho steals every scene he is in and helps make things even more enjoyable to watch unfold. This is the kind of story that was perfect for the time it was made because of how prevalent video games were at the time.  Ernest Cline used a similar idea in his novel – Armada and allows for things to feel more modernized in relation to personal video game consoles instead of the gigantic stand alone ones in the 80’s.  The story works quite well but could have been even better if they had spent a bit more time developing the characters and the overall conflict because things are dealt with much too rapidly. The special effects are quite good for its time even if things feel a bit archaic for the kind of effects we are used to seeing in more recent movies. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – According to screenwriter Jonathan R. Betuel, the idea for this movie came about because he wandered into a video arcade and saw a young boy playing a video game, and also at that time, he read the book “The Once and Future King” by T.H White, and it occurred to him that what if a video game had been a sword in a stone, and a boy had scored an incredible number in the video game, which sent out a ripple effect across the universe. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10) (no change from original review)

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One thought on “The Last Starfighter (1984) – Encore Review

  1. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1984 | MovieRob

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