TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!

The Last StarfighterThe Last Starfighter on DVD

Collector's Edition a Bonus

Universal home video's DVD release of "The Last Starfighter," has given this warmhearted teen fantasy the loving care afforded by the company's "Collector's Edition" series.

And such treatment is appropriate. While "Starfighter" probably won't go down in history as one of the masterpieces of film, it's a gentle, worthwhile film that pushed the state of the moviemaking art through its innovative use of digital special effects.

"Starfighter" tells the story of Alex Rogan, a teen with his eyes on the future but who's stuck in the deadend rut of life in a small rural trailer park. He longs to leave, to make something of himself, but his chances appear to get more limited with each passing day.

Frustrated, Alex hones his skills on the video game "Starfighter," which he gets plenty of time to play while all his friends are off having fun - oblivious to their meaningless teen partying lives.

Well, as it turns out, the video game is actually an unconventional recruiting tool for the Star League, and when Alex turns in a record-breaking performance on it, he's drawn - reluctantly - into the League's desperate fight against the renegade Xur and his alliance with the wooden-faced Ko-Dan.

"The Last Starfighter" sometimes lays it on a bit thick, but it means well and in an age of anti-heroes it offers is hopeful vision for today's teens. The digital special effects were outstanding for their day, though they look a bit dated now - but only a bit.

Lance Guest does a pretty good job as Alex, and the credible supporting cast includes the late Robert Preston as an interstellar version of Professor Harold Hill, his role from "The Music Man." He's joined by Catherine Mary Stewart as Alex's main squeeze and Dan O'Herlihy as Grig, the lizard-like alien who accompanies and mentors Alex in the battle against the Ko-Dan.

Production values of this film are first rate; sets and costumes show the studios (Lorimar and Universal) spent the bucks to do "Starfighter" justice. It's a low budget "B movie"-type film with an "A movie" budget.

Mention should be made of Craig Safan's musical score, which is sweeping and grand in the John Williams tradition - and which has been transferred onto the DVD with wonderful fidelity. The music's so clear, in fact, that it comes off sounding better than the actors do.

The "Collector's Edition" DVD is only in widescreen (2.35:1) and, while the picture seems just a tad soft in places, the video transfer on the whole is excellent. The audio has been encoded into Dolby Digital and, on the whole, sounds great.

Best yet, the dual layer disc has plenty of extras, provided by Sharpline Arts (who also did the Alien Legacy boxed set), for the perusing.

Extras include a loving look at the film (hosted by a much older Lance Guest) that clearly showcases "Starfighter's" place in movie technology history. The documentary includes comments from director Castle, screenwriter Jonathan Betuel, and even throws in a few comments from special effects luminary Dennis Muren of George Lucas' Industrial Light and Magic, which since "Starfighter" has helped refine the use of digital special effects so that today a director can film anything that can be imagined.

There's also a very welcome full length running commentary with director Castle and production designer Ron Cobb, a decent set of liner notes in the packaging, and production photos and information on the disc itself. Naturally, you also get the trailer and a teaser's included for good measure.

We really like Universal's treatment of "The Last Starfighter." In fact, we're fans of the all the studio's Collector's Edition releases that we've tried to date. Even when we haven't really liked the movie, we've appreciated the extra care that has gone into this series - and similar offerings from other distributors.

Collector's Series/special editions really spoil us; they enhance our DVD enjoyment greatly. For the studios, they also offer incentive for consumer to buy, rather than rent, the titles.

We wish all DVD's were released this way.

The Last Starfighter, Collector's Edition, from Universal Home Video
101 minutes, widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital
starring Lance Guest, Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Preston, and Dan O'Herlihy
Written by Jonathan Betuel, Produced by Gary Adelson and Edward O. Denault
Directed by Nick Castle


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

Updated May 13, 2006