It’s mid-week and time to set the Wayback Machine for Wayback Wednesdays (hosted by A Well Read Woman). The meme was originally intended to look back at the books we’ve read that have made a lasting impression on us. But I’ve expanded my responses beyond just books to other forms of pop culture. This week, I want to take a look back at a movie that celebrated its 30th anniversary last year and that I saw when it was originally running in theaters: The Last Starfighter
The Last Starfighter centers on Alex, a young man who lives with his family in a trailer park. Alex has big dreams of getting out of his home town and making something of himself, but he’s frustrated when a loan doesn’t come through. Little does he know that his ticket out of the trailer park lies in a video game that he sits outside the convenience store at the trailer park entrance. Alex is very good at Starfighter, one night setting a new high score on the machine and defeating the game.
A few hours later, a strange visitor in a strange car shows up looking for the person who beat the machine. Before Alex knows it, he’s being swept off into outer space. Turns out the video game was a test to try and find an Earthling that is a candidate to become an actual starfighter and join the armada to defeat the evil Zurg. Like all good b-movie villains, Zerg has his heart set on overthrowing the forces of good and has teamed up with a group of heavily made-up baddies to do just that.
Growing up, I loved sci-fi movies (still do). I remember seeing the previews for this one and thinking that this one movie I had to see. Luckily, we lived on an Air Force base when this one came out. The movie eventually made its way to the base and I got my parents to take me to see it. The idea that a person could play video game and make something of himself was the hook for me. Thankfully, there was a great story in there as well and some good performances (I saw Robert Preston in this movie before I ever saw The Music Man, but I love him in both roles).
The movie also featured the first computer generated special effects for the space battles and scenes in outer-space.
To say I was mesmerized by this movie is an understatement. It rocketed up my list of favorite movies and was even on the top of that list for a few months after I saw it. I remember renting it to watch on my birthday that year.
I recently dusted off the Blu-Ray copy I got of the film as a present a few years ago and watched it again. I’m surprised at how well it holds up. Oh sure, the computer effects look a bit primitive and like an early DVD-ROM video game, but just about everything about this one holds up. It’s got a fantastic musical score as well that got stuck in my head for days. (Note to self: See if the theme is on Spotify).
If you’ve never seen this movie, I highly recommend it. If you watched it a while ago and haven’t seen it lately, try it again.
I keep hearing rumors of a sequel or a reboot. I’m not sure how I feel about that. There are just some movies I don’t think should get a reboot. And this may be one of them.
The DVD and Blu-Ray are packed with fun extras. And you can also find two fan commentaries for the movie over at Zarban’s. I recommend both.