Last Starfighter on DVD
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
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.
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.
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"
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.
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
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
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
Written by Jonathan Betuel, Produced by Gary Adelson and Edward O. Denault
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