DVD/Blu-ray Reviews

The Last Starfighter - Blu-ray Review



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</script></div>{/googleAds}The 1980s is now 3 decades behind us, and cinematically speaking, has become the decade that gave us classic after classic going to the movies back then. Not only were Lucas and Spielberg at their height in this decade, but directors like Richard Donner and Joe Dante amazed kids and teens the world over, capturing them heart and soul with adventures both relatable and exciting. Fantasy and suburbia combined in a way that had never seemed more real.

In 1984, a cab driver named Jonathan Betuel fulfilled every budding screenwriter's dream, and saw his idea become a movie. That alone would have been some event. But his story of a teenager desperate to escape his humdrum existence - and getting his wish in the most unexpected way was destined to become one of a glut of memorable, seminal kid/adventure films that would define the 80s above all the decades that have followed—at least so far.

The Last Starfighter tells the story of Alex Rogan, a good natured teenager on the verge of manhood. Loathing his quiet trailer park existence, being at the whim of a demanding bunch of neighbours, and worrying about money, Alex eagerly awaits a letter to finally release him from the life he hates and go off to college. But it isn't a letter that changes his life: it's a video game—one that Alex manages to defeat one quiet night when he thinks all is hopeless. Turns out the game is not a game at all, but a testing machine a contemporized sword in the stone - for potential pilots needed to combat the intergalactic enemy of an alien race. When things get real bad, Alex has to decide between the path he thought he wanted and the path laid before him.

The Last  StarfighterThe story is a very clever combination of every kid's dream to ascend beyond their confines and science fiction adventure. It is honest in its portrayal of the hero and his problems, but never ceases being fun, and does so naturally without slapping kids in the face with some heavy-handed morality play.

All the characters are distinct and believable, even Grig—the ‘gung-ho iguana'. The pacing is excellent, lulling you into Alex's mediocre existence enough to sympathize with him but not be bored by him. The transition to the more fantastical elements of the story are handled with equal aplomb, feeling organic to the story and serving the hero well.

The Last Starfighter also has a distinction its peers do not—not even Lucas or Spielberg. It is the first film to use computer generated imagery to create special effects. Spearheaded by Ron Cobb (he of Alien fame) and a team of dedicated people, the effects compared to today's standards look a little worse for wear, but the film's heart and characters still, to this day, allow you to forgive the effects' vintage.

Director Nick Castle, who will also go down in history as the original Michael Myers, cleverly combines into one film what kids of the day were hankering for: space ships, aliens, kids we recognize, places we knew and places we wanted to go, video games, and a rollicking fun adventure. The Last Starfighter is a classic for the ages, and, along with its peers, remains a formidable entry into youth-oriented boom of cinema.


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
4 stars
5 Stars
DVD Experience
4.5 stars

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

This is a 25 year-old movie, so don't be expecting Avatar or something. The effects are crisp, but are gonna look Nintendo 64 basic for most. Some scenes play a little soft on the focus and others are as crisp as a chip. For the nostalgic, like me, who may have been introduced to this film on VHS, the film has never looked better—and is a definite jump in quality from the DVD. This may not be a mind-blowing example of this new technology, but watching films of this era (or earlier) and finding detail in the images never before seen on a home screen is reward enough.

Screen Formats: 2.35:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish English SDH, French, Spanish (less)

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Supplements:

Commentary

  • Feature-length commentary track with Director Nick Castle and Production Designer Ron Cobb.

Featurettes

  • Heroes of the Screen (1080i, 24:19)
  • Crossing the Frontier: Making 'The Last Starfighter' (480p) - four-part documentary
    • Introduction (1:27)
    • Filming the Movie (10:33)
    • A New Era of Visual Effects (18:08)
    • Reflections (1:52)
  • Photo Galleries - nine image galleries presented in 480p standard definition:
    • The Cast, 'Starfighter' Arcade Game
    • Starfighter Command
    • The Starcar
    • The Gunstar
    • Ko-Dan Armada
    • Alternate Ending
    • Anatomy of a Starfighter Computer-Generated Image
    • Promotion and Merchandise
  • Previews - The film's original theatrical trailer and teaser trailers.

Number of Discs: 1 25GB Blu-ray Disc with BD-Live.

{pgomakase}

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