The Last Starfighter

The 1980s is now decades behind us and I consider myself fortunate to have been a Gen X-er, having my formative years during that decade. It produced, in my view, the most creativity and risk taking of any decade of filmmaking. There are classics galore from that time because of those risks. No matter your genre preference, there’s something for you. 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. It was a magical era at the movies. In 1984, a cab driver named Jonathan Betuel fulfilled every budding screenwriter's dream and saw his science fiction/Arthurian mythology idea become a movie. In a glut of derivative attempts to cash in on the sci-fi successes of the time, he succeeded in delivering something strong with its own identity. A classic for the ages.

"is the first film to use computer generated imagery to create special effects"

The Last Starfighter tells the story of Alex Rogan, a good-natured teenager on the verge of graduating. Loathing his quiet trailer park existence, being at the whim of a demanding bunch of neighbours and worrying about money, Alex eagerly awaits a college tuition letter to finally release him from the life he laments. 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 his future is all but lost. Turns out the game is not a game at all, but an 80’s sword in the stone. A test for potential pilots needed to combat the intergalactic enemy of an alien race. When the shit hits the fan, Alex has to decide between the path he thought he wanted and the path laid before him.The Last Starfighter

The story is a very clever combination of every kid's aspirational dream to ascend beyond their confines and science-fiction adventure. It is genuine in its portrayal of the hero and his problems, yet 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 sympathise with him but not be bored. 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 don’t, even Lucas or Spielberg. It is the first film to use computer generated imagery to create special effects. Spearheaded by Ron Cobb (of Alien fame) and a team of dedicated people, a computer the size of a car created the effects that, compared to today's standards, look a little worse for wear. But they pioneered their way to the future and the film's heart and characters still, to this day, will allow you to forgive the effects' vintage.

Director Nick Castle, who will also go down in history as the original Michael Myers from Halloween, cleverly combines into one film what kids of the day were hankering for: space ships, aliens, kids we recognise, 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 the youth-oriented genre boom of the 80s.

4/5 stars


The Last Starfighter

4k details divider

Limited Edition / 4K Ultra HD

Home Video Distributor: Arrow
Available on Blu-ray
- May 30, 2023
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English SDH
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 4.1; English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc; Single disc
Region Encoding: 4K region-free


The Arrow blu-ray release used the same scan, so they’re guilty (as they have been many, many times) of double dipping by delaying the UHD disc. So what are we getting for another suckle on their home media teat. In a word, or acronym, HDR. This DOLBY Vision/HDR10 transfer ups the ante on neon signs, the colour red especially, delineation between the plains in shots and a general uptick on colour presentation. It isn’t world shattering but it was definitely noticeable. What doesn’t improve (in fact it becomes more noticeable) is the antiquated effects and compositing muddying shots with artefacts and reduced resolution against the higher quality of film stock. This is not to say the film looks bad. (Even at the time it, shall we say, looked tenuous in its verisimilitude.) But it’s really noticeable at this resolution. Unless you’re a Starfighter die hard fan, the previous blu-ray release is probably enough


You get the same great DTS-HD 5.1 mix as the blu-ray release. It’s a solid surround mix that outdoes previous releases massively. I am always greedy for a new Atmos 7.1 mix however, and although there are certainly some successful LFE moments throughout, the wish was there for some overheads, There is absolutely nothing to complain about with this mix. Dialogue is clean and centred, the rousing score fills the room, the foley/environmental effects are scene specific and immersive. All in all, a more than serviceable mix delivered… again.



  • Audio commentary with star Lance Guest and his son Jackson Guest
  • Audio commentary with Mike White of The Projection Booth podcast
  • Archival audio commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb

Special Features:

  • Maggie's Memories: Revisiting The Last Starfighter - interview with actor Catherine Mary Stewart
  • Into the Starscape: Composing The Last Starfighter - interview with composer Craig Safan
  • Incredible Odds: Writing The Last Starfighter - interview with screenwriter Jonathan Betuel
  • Interstellar Hit-Beast: Creating the Special Effects - interview with special effects supervisor Kevin Pike
  • Excalibur Test: Inside Digital Productions - interview with sci-fi author Greg Bear on Digital Productions, the company responsible for the CGI in The Last Starfighter
  • Greetings Starfighter! Inside the Arcade Game - an interview with arcade game collector Estil Vance on reconstructing the Starfighter game
  • Heroes of the Screen - archival featurette
  • Crossing the Frontier: The Making of The Last Starfighter - archival 4-part documentary
  • Image galleries
  • Theatrical and teaser trailers

4k rating divider

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 3/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

3.5/5 stars

Film Details

The Last Starfighter

MPAA Rating: PG.
101 mins
: Nick Castle
Jonathan R. Betuel
Lance Guest Robert Preston Kay E. Kuter
: Action | Sci-fi
The Adventure of a Lifetime is About to Begin.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I'm sorry, it was an accident. I didn't mean to step on you, uh, whatever that is."
Theatrical Distributor:
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
July 13, 1984
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
May 30, 2023.
Synopsis: Tells the story Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), an arcade game whizz-kid whose wildest dreams come true when he finds himself enlisted to fight in an interstellar war..


The Last Starfighter