The Last Starfighter (1984)
April 21, 2023 8:43 AM - Subscribe

A video game expert Alex Rogan finds himself transported to another planet after conquering The Last Starfighter video game only to find out it was just a test. He was recruited to join the team of best Starfighters to defend their world from the attack.

Trailer. Fan Trailer. 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Last Starfighter.
Though a long-rumored sequel is defunct as of September 2022, you can see the concept reel here.
Listen to the excellent movie score.
New 4k release scheduled for release in May 2023.
posted by WedgedPiano (18 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
A classic from my childhood. I rewatch it from time to time. There are no weak links in the acting and Robert Preston is spectacular. The effects, yeah, this is nascent CGI. But it looks cool and they did a fine job merging it with the live action.
posted by Stuka at 9:36 AM on April 21 [7 favorites]

I'm thinking about how every proposed reboot or continuation of Star Trek re-builds the enterprise to modernize the design. I've seen a couple proposed sequels to the The Last Starfighter, either as a "real" project of something a concept designer did for fun. They always leave the Gunstar exactly as-is.

A+ spaceship. Absolutely no notes.

I don't know if this is the first bit of media to marry the "Mid-century Roadside Americana" context with the "Bustling Cosmopolitan Space Community" one, but I have a soft spot for each of those vibes and their meeting here is like peanut butter and jelly. Things you wouldn't think work together until they do and it's perfect.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:52 PM on April 21 [11 favorites]

I love this film unreservedly.
posted by Gelatin at 12:54 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]

The effects, yeah, this is nascent CGI. But it looks cool and they did a fine job merging it with the live action.

A Cray X-MP 15 million (in 1984 dollars when a million was significant) before storage. 800 MFLOPS. A PS4 can do almost 2 TFLOPS,
posted by mikelieman at 4:10 PM on April 21 [5 favorites]

Fun fact: my dad was a Cray salesman back in the 80s and sold the computer used in this film.

As a child, I remember visiting his work and walking around and inside a Cray.
posted by champers at 3:38 AM on April 22 [15 favorites]

I haven’t seen this movie in 35ish years but loved it then, have wondered how well it would hold up to jaded adult viewing. This movie and Explorers were both early sci-fi favorites. Might watch them with my eight year old sometime soon.
posted by skewed at 9:23 AM on April 22 [1 favorite]

I re-watched this maybe a year ago when I had some downtime. Tried a few times to interest my fam in watching it but no dice. I remembered it very fondly.

I think it held up pretty well, all things considered. The CGI was not great but not embarrassingly bad, either. Had forgotten entirely about the duplicate Alex.

This was a major wish fulfillment type movie as a kid. The idea of being snapped up to go off into space and be a hero... loved it. Why wouldn't you want to do that?

I had jumbled Last Starfighter with Battle Beyond the Stars in my head, though they're very very different tonally and Starfighter is clearly the better movie in all respects. (Though Grig in TLS looks a lot like the character Cayman in BBtS, which is probably why they were blended in my head...) Kept waiting for Robert Vaughn to show up, but realized it was the wrong movie.
posted by jzb at 2:00 PM on April 22 [1 favorite]

This came out the summer I turned 12, and thus is in my DNA. What a perfect movie for a young teen.
Alex: I'm not any of those guys. I'm a kid from a trailer park.

Centauri: If that's what you think, then that's all you'll ever be.
HELL YEAH. Also, young me had such a crush on Maggie. (Apparently Catherine Mary Stewart was 24 or 25 at the time, and Lance Guest was about the same age. But back in the 80s an actor could play a high schooler until at least 35.)
posted by LooseFilter at 3:41 PM on April 22 [3 favorites]

Robert Preston's last movie. One of the great things about this movie is that is was essentially non-franchise. Sure they had board games, figures, and lunch boxes, but didn't everything? Despite more-recent rumblings about adding to its legacy, it's fine just to be one and done, which sounds almost foreign in this day and age. Kind of a sleeper all told.
posted by rhizome at 12:26 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]

They always leave the Gunstar exactly as-is.

A+ spaceship. Absolutely no notes.

If anyone wants to support a Gunstar One model on LEGO Ideas, there is an active submission (and it's already over halfway to the first threshold of support)....

(Also, now that I'm looking, there are MOCs available, and I should have the pieces to build this one. Sweet.)
posted by LooseFilter at 9:48 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]

My teenage love for this movie led me to watching The Music Man, because some of the reviews for TLS compared Centauri to Harold Hill. There will always be a part of me that wishes I could be as calm and audacious as Robert-Preston-playing-a-con-man.
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 3:45 PM on April 23 [2 favorites]

There are people walking around who will NOT answer "You have been recruited by the Star League to defend The Frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan Armada," if you greet them with "Greetings, Starfighter." Inconceivable!

There was talk of a sequel by the original screenwriter and he can have this idea for free: Kate McKinnon as Centauri's daughter.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:57 PM on April 23 [7 favorites]

Oh, man--if it were possible to somehow incorporate parts of Katie Mac's inextinguishably funny UFO abductee bits from SNL, that would be the best thing.

And I saw this after coping with a rough first couple years of college by playing a lot of video games, so you can imagine how much I dug the whole concept. I would have taken the Ko-Dan Armada any day over a couple of people that I roomed with.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:30 AM on April 24 [2 favorites]

I was 10 when this came out and I absolutely loved this movie - straight nerd nip into my veins. Always wanted there to be a real actual game, but beyond a few demo-ish things I don't think I ever saw a fully fleshed out game.
posted by drewbage1847 at 2:24 PM on April 24

I just rewatched it; definitely holds up, acting is strong. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who loves this little gem.
Bad prequel ideas: Centauri origin story running scams.
Bad sequel idea: Grig’s kid needs to be coached by lance guest to be a star fighter.
posted by WedgedPiano at 7:24 PM on April 24

I would totally watch "Better Call Centauri!"

I believe that this was the first movie ever to use CGI for real-world objects. CGI had been used before in the Death Star briefing, Tron, and elsewhere, but this was the first film to put CGI on screen and tell the audience, "This is a real object in the real world."
posted by Hatashran at 2:54 PM on April 25

The entire movie movie is on YouTube, so we rewatched it and yeah the cgi is very 80s. Was seeing his friends brother save the universe what inspired Wesley Crusher to join Starfleet?
posted by autopilot at 3:36 PM on April 28

Mmm, I finally treated myself to the 4k bluray. A++, would splurge again.
posted by WedgedPiano at 2:41 PM on July 19

« Older The Last Thing He Told Me: Com...   |  Movie: Ghost Train... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments