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122 of 130 people found the following review helpful
Has it really been 25 years since this movie was released?
That was my first thought when I heard this movie was being released on Blu-ray. My second thought was that my ever burgeoning Blu-ray collection would be increasing by at least one more movie in August.
I will discuss the plot later in this review but I am suspecting that most customers checking this Blu-ray catalog item out on Amazon are perhaps more interested in the Picture and Audio and the special features.
I have never seen the HD-DVD but have read that the HD-DVD transfer was simply horrible and was bracing myself to be disappointed with the quality of the Blu-ray release.
While the transfer is a far cry from anything that anyone would cite as reference quality with a lot of the scenes suffering a smoky look at times, the colors are OK with some distinct black and white levels, but on other occasions muted too much. Still it is an improvment over the previous DVD release, though it''s questionable if this should be enough to double-dip.
The audio has some nice surround and great bass but again is also somewhat average, so if you are expecting an audio track to rival more recent movies you will likely be disappointed.
The highlight of the special features is the audio commentary between director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb. This is evidently an old audio track but the two seem to have an enjoyable time. There is also a Making of featurette called "Crossing the Frontier" and, as one would expect with a movie touting itself as a 25th Anniversary Edition, a new featurette that includes cast and crew looking back on the movie and their roles as mentors.
The movie follows the adventures of Alex Rogan (played by Lance Guest). Living in a trailer park and with a beautiful girlfriend Alex spends his time mastering a video arcade game in between doing odd-jobs for his neighbors. However, after a particularly successful game at the controls, he is visited by a mysterious character. It turns out that the video game is used as a recruiting tool of sorts to locate those who would be great intergalactic fighter pilots.
Before Alex knows what has hit him the bewildered teen is whisked off across the galaxy and discovers that what was once just a video game is now all too real.
Yes, it's good old 1980s cheese and the early CGI effects are much less impressive now than they were 25 years ago, but for a pure fun movie that does not take itself too seriously you can do much worse :)
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72 of 78 people found the following review helpful
The Last Starfighter is essentially a space opera hinged on the fantasy that video game skills will save the day. Obviously this movie was made for the young teen crowd (essentially 13 yr old boys with Ataris/ Intelivisions/ColecoVisions/etc) and has its share of action and comedy that, like most space operas in the 80's, has more than one similarity to Star Wars (but then again Star Wars was a homage to the classic space operas of the golden age of television). So it's not high caliber sci-fi, but it's not B-movie fodder either.

The story is pretty simple: Evil leader of evil aliens wants to attack good aliens, so in walks a single hero who is the last hope for freedom. That's about it. The movie doesn't deviate too far from this premise other than to further flesh out the fish-out-of-water scenario of an 80's Earthling thrust into space (as well as a little fun with an alien in 80's Earth) as well as the inner battle of said Earthling to stay and fight for a Star League he doesn't know or stay home and go to community college. A serviceable story, if not deep.

The acting does make the simple story enjoyable to watch. Lance Guest seems to have fun with the role, which works for the character. Biggest props go to esteemed Robert Preston's Centauri, who plays the role with the style of a magician and the charisma P.T. Barnum. Another esteemed actor, Dan O'Herlihy, does a surprisingly good performance. Especially when you consider he is wearing full prosthetics with less facial mobility than the costumes from the original Planet of the Apes. Yeah there is a bit of theatrical "drama", but that works with the whole space opera motif.

Special effects are a benchmark here because this is the first film to incorporate live action elements to computer generated animation. The CGA is pretty barbaric by today's standards and even back then was noticeable. The biggest glare in this are the scenes flying in around asteroids, which look pretty "plastic" CG-wise. However the CG ships looked awesome and you can't beat the camera angles and fly-byes that computer animation affords. Plus back then this was pretty state of the art.

The original DVD was released years ago and not too long ago an HD-DVD release was done. Both were pretty good in their format, but this Blu-Ray is a true remastering of the movie. It's a MPEG-4 codec on a BD-25 (25 gigabyte single layer Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It looks like a lot of the grain was taken out too, and for some that could be annoying if you are really into the true theater look. Still the images are a good deal sharper and look better than any previous release (including the HD-DVD release). The CG effects really stand out, and while I liked it that aspect also separated those scenes more from the live action shots as far as differences in detail, color and lighting. All in all it's a great transfer/remaster in spite of it not being perfect (then again how many 15 year old movies can really stand up to current digital transfers?).

The Blu-Ray comes with the same features as the DVD release only the new documentary is in high definition and you get a few Blu-Ray centric features like BDLive and D-Box compatibility (that's a motion control chair that responds to queues from the movie). Extras are as follows:

Commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb - It's informative and entertaining hearing the two banter between each other. You can tell they enjoyed making this movie.

Crossing the Frontier: Making The Last Starfighter - This was in the original DVD release. Lance Guest hosts this half hour documentary going behind the scenes on the technical and other aspects of the movie.

Heroes of the Screen (in HD) - Essentially interviews with cast and crew talking about how the movie was made and how they felt about the production.

DTS-HD 5.1 in English and subtitled in English (SDH), Spanish and French - Can't speak for the accuracy of the subtitles, but the English audio sounds great. Not a whole lot of surround sound stuff going on, but then again this is an older movie.

Theatrical and teaser trailer - Standard definition. Not much to say here.

Image gallery - Includes rare production photos, promotional stuff and content from an alternate ending.

This movie is definitely a time capsule for 80's science fiction and is very much a product of that time. If you like that sort of charm then by all means pick this one up. If you already have the original DVD you were definitely enjoy the updated visuals and sound as well as the new interviews. It's worth the double dip.
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111 of 130 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2004
In 1984, Lorimar Film Entertainment and Universal Pictures joined forces to create a very engaging and entertaining sci-fi film entitled "The Last Starfighter". Directed by Nick Castle, the story begins in the dreary and dusty "Starlite Starbrite" trailer park where the teenager Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) lives with his mother Jane Rogan (Barbara Bosson) and his inquisitive little brother Louis Rogan (Chris Hebert). Alex has very little free time for himself as he has become the de facto trailer park maintenance man, repairing various problems in neighbors' trailers. He would like to go to college and leave the trailer park behind, but his mother's meager wages make that impossible. His girlfriend Maggie Gordon (Catherine Mary Stewart) also lives in the trailer park. When not with Maggie, Alex's favorite enjoys playing a videogame called Starfighter located next to the trailer park's office. Alex becomes very skilled at beating the videogame to the delight of trailer park residents. One night, a mysterious, fast-talking man named Centauri (Robert Preston, 1918-1987) pulls up in a fancy car. After asking about who beat the videogame, he invites Alex to join him in his car for a meeting. To Alex's dismay, Centauri drives them away from the trailer park and then into outer space, where he takes Alex to the planet Rylos so that he can become a real starfighter to fight the evil Xur (Norman Snow) and the Kodan armada.
With inspiration from the first three "Star Wars" films (which were released in 1977, 1980 & 1983), the highly successful 1982 videogame-based film "Tron" and the overall popularity of videogames in the 1980's, "The Last Starfighter" is a fun film to watch and was one of the earliest films to use computer-generated graphics to depict outer space scenes. As always, Robert Preston did a magnificent job of acting in what unfortunately was his last big-screen appearance. Lance Guest's portrayal of Alex was probably not as good as Mark Hamill's portrayal of Luke Skywalker in the 1977 "Star Wars", but it was good enough to keep the film's momentum going. Catherine Mary Stewart did do a good job with her portrayal of Maggie. Other memorable characters in the film include Alex's lizardy copilot Grig (Dan O'Herlihy), trailer park manager Otis (Vernon Washington, 1927-1988), trailer park resident Elvira (Peggy Pope), Maggie's grandmother (Meg Wyllie, 1917-2002, who played the Talosian Keeper in the original 1965 "Star Trek" TV series pilot "The Cage" that was later refashioned as the two-part episode "The Minagerie"), Lord Kril (Dan Mason) and Enduran (Kay E. Kuter, 1925-2003). Memorable scenes include Alex at the trailer park, Alex beating the videogame, Centauri's arrival and trip into space, Alex's arrival on Rylos, meeting the other starfighter pilots, the surprise attack, Alex talking with his beta unit, the Kodan spy, Alex's time with Grig, the battle scenes and the final scenes. Overall, I rate "The Last Starfighter" with 4 out of 5 stars.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 1999
Quite a good film, especially for kids, although older viewers will find it appealing. Yes it does jump on the Stars Wars bandwagon and there is a bit of dialogue in the eariler space scenes which is a blatant rip-off from Star Wars... but its a good enough film in its own right, pioneering some excellent Cray Super computer graphics, which were very impressive in its day, and still looks good now. This film is really done justice on DVD. The picture quality is good overall, but is a bit grainy throughout and the colours are a little pale. Its widescreen (2.35:1) and anamorphic, the best this film has ever looked for home use. The sound though is the real surprise, its Dolby Digital 5.1 and impressive. For a film of its age and considering it was originally in Dolby Stereo, the sound engineers have done an excellent job for this DVD presentation, the music is excellent, great clarity and quality. The dialogue sounds fine and is clear. The sound effects are good and quite well placed in this new sound mix. The rear speakers are used where necessary and the sound surrounds you at times quite well. Overall, good enough picture quality, excellent sound and well worth owning on DVD. The extras on DVD include a "making of documentary" with some interesting comments from ILM who did Star Wars.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2007
Great movie and great HD DVD disc.The Last Star Fighter is one of my favorite movies from the 80's.It is one of my must watched DVD's that I have.When it was anounced that The Last Star Fighter was coming out on HD DVD I wasnt so sure if I wanted to double dip as the picture quality on the DVD was good,but not great.Well I decided to get it anyways and right from the start of the movie I knew I made a wise choise.The Last Star Fighter looks great in High Def and it blows the standard def DVD version away.The sound is not bad either and Universal has included a Dolby True track.The special features are the same as the previous DVD version-Making off,commentary with Nick Castle.Universal has done a great job with this HD DVD and I'm sure I'll be playing my copy alot.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2001
One of the first science fiction films I saw and still one of the best (defintly the most underatted). Lance Guest stars as Alex Grogan a teenager who dreams of one day leaving his trailer park home with his girlfriend Maggy (Caterine Mary Stewart) and becoming someone successful, despite the insults from his so-called friends. His chance comes when he breaks the record on a Starfighter video game. He is then whisked away to a far off planet, thanks to help of Centauri (an alien talent scout), played brilliantly by Robert Preston. He discovers the Starfighter game is more like a training simulation and that the story the 'game' centers on is real and brought to life in a distant galaxy.
Okay the special effects look seriously dated compared to todays standards but Lance Guest is wonderful as the young teenager who must switch between being a regular guy and Han Solo type gunfighter. Robert Preston stands out as the supporting act, totally convincing as a wise-cracking money grabber. The bad guys take the form of monstrous creatures led by the annoying, somewhat hammy Zur. But there is a good distinction between them and the good guys, Star League. Somewhat like Star Wars, the enemies aren't too evil just bad enough to boo and hiss at.
The film moves at a steady pace and there are some great moments featuring Alex's clone while the real Alex saves the universe.
The Last Starfighter is a science fiction classic waiting to be rediscovered and remastered.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
It looks like movie studios are trying various different permutations of their film releases. One way of looking at it is they are trying to provide more options for their customers. Another way of seeing it is they are double dipping. Trying to get you to buy something you already got by offering something never before offered. The new thing that seems to be offered lately is the full combo with a disk that has a digital copy of the movie for easier uploading into your portable devices. There are no other bonus features being offered here. Just the digital copy.

Now that we have that out of the way maybe you don't know what The Last Starfighter is. It is a space opera hinged on the fantasy that video game skills will save the day. This movie was made in the 80's and was designed to cater to the 13 yr old boy with Ataris/ Intelivisions/ColecoVisions/etc demographic. It has its share of action and comedy that, like most space operas in the 80's, has more than one similarity to Star Wars (but then again Star Wars was a homage to the classic space operas of the golden age of television). So it's not high caliber sci-fi, but it's not B-movie fodder either.

The story is pretty simple: Evil leader of evil aliens wants to attack good aliens, so in walks a single hero who is the last hope for freedom. That's about it. The movie doesn't deviate too far from this premise other than to further flesh out the fish-out-of-water scenario of an 80's Earthling thrust into space (as well as a little fun with an alien in 80's Earth) as well as the inner battle of said Earthling to stay and fight for a Star League he doesn't know or stay home and go to community college. A serviceable story, if not deep.

The acting does make the simple story enjoyable to watch. Lance Guest seems to have fun with the role, which works for the character. Biggest props go to esteemed Robert Preston's Centauri, who plays the role with the style of a magician and the charisma P.T. Barnum. Another esteemed actor, Dan O'Herlihy, does a surprisingly good performance. Especially when you consider he is wearing full prosthetics with less facial mobility than the costumes from the original Planet of the Apes. Yeah there is a bit of theatrical "drama", but that works with the whole space opera motif.

The Last Starfighter is a CGI hallmark as it's the first movie to blend computer animated elements with live action. The CGI is pretty barbaric by today's standards and even back then it was obvious which is live action and which is computer animation. In spite of that the spaceship designs were really cool and in CG they looked awesome. You can't beat the camera angles and fly-byes that computer animation affords. Plus back then this was pretty state of the art.

This release is identical to the 25th Anniversary remasters. It's an MPEG-4 codec on a BD-25 (25 gigabyte single layer Blu-ray Disc) in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It looks like a lot of the original film grain was taken out in the remastering, and for some that could be annoying if you are really into the true theater look. Still the images are sharp and are the best available. The CGI really does stand out, and while I liked it that aspect also separated those scenes more from the live action shots as far as differences in detail, color and lighting. All in all it's a great transfer/remaster in spite of it not being perfect (then again how many 15 year old movies can really stand up to current digitally filmed movies?).

The Blu-Ray comes with a host of features and Heroes of the Screen is the only one high definition. You get a few Blu-Ray centric features like BDLive and D-Box compatibility (that's a motion control chair that responds to queues from the movie). Extras are as follows:

Commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb - It's informative and entertaining hearing the two banter between each other. You can tell they enjoyed making this movie.

Crossing the Frontier: Making The Last Starfighter - This is also on the DVD. Lance Guest hosts this half hour documentary going behind the scenes on the technical and other aspects of the movie.

Heroes of the Screen (in HD) - Essentially interviews with cast and crew talking about how the movie was made and how they felt about the production.

DTS-HD 5.1 in English and subtitled in English (SDH), Spanish and French - Can't speak for the accuracy of the subtitles, but the English audio sounds great. Not a whole lot of surround sound stuff going on, but then again this is an older movie.

Theatrical and teaser trailer - Standard definition. Not much to say here.

Image gallery - Includes rare production photos, promotional stuff and content from an alternate ending.

This movie is definitely a time capsule for 80's science fiction and is very much a product of that time. If you like that sort of charm then by all means pick this one up. It's only worth the double dip (or triple if you traded up from the first DVD or HD-DVD to the 25th Anniversary) if you really want that digital copy. This is best for new buyers or DVD only owners who want to upgrade to the most formats available.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
THE LAST STARFIGHTER is definitely a product of the 1980s. The hair, some of the clothes, the video arcades, the cars, etc. Despite the time period in which it is set, it does a wonderful job of tying in to everything that's great about youth and the optimism of coming of age.

The movie tells the story of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest). Alex is a young kid living in a trailer park who dreams of bigger things and unlike many of those at home, is trying to pursue those dreams. He wants to go to college away from home and begin a new life. Only thing is, he gets rejected from the school he applies to. So Alex starts playing the arade. The trailer park has one arcade game outside of its little country store and Alex is a pro at it. The game is called Starfighter and one night Alex ends up beating the game and achieving an all time new high score. The next day a man named Centauri who claims to be a representative of the company who invented the game shows up to meet with Alex. Turns out, Centauri is an alien who invented the game to find new recruits to join the Star League, an elite group of starfighters who keep the peace throughout the galaxy. Centauri takes Alex to Star League command and he is given a whirlwind tour. The situation is overwhelming for the lad and he requests to be sent home. He does, but by then things have gotten way out of hand and before Alex can say Beta, he finds out that he's the last starfighter.

The acting in the movie is good, especially for a cheesy 1980s sci-fi, boy in space picture. Robert Preston made his final motion picture performance in THE LAST STARFIGHTER and watching some of the behind the scenes stuff on the DVD it's clear that the man was much more talented than many people ever gave him credit for. The special effects in THE LAST STARFIGHTER might seem lame by todays standards but they really aren't all that bad. TRON is recognized as being the first movie to use CGI, but it was THE LAST STARFIGHTER that first used CGI for all its special effects. The effects were produed by the now-ancient Cray Super Computer.

The movie actually is a joy to watch. It's got some snappy dialogue, some interesting concepts (the whole Beta thing), and the first feature length CGI effects in a major motion picture. The film isn't going to change anyone's life, but it is a great movie to sit back and watch at home with a cool Dr Pepper and a bucket full of buttered popcorn. A delightful piece of mind candy that speaks to child in all of us.

The DVD special features include the director commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, production photos and info, and theatrical trailers.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
I've seen some comic strips in the past where 6 figure jobs were advertised for people who had skills in playing video games. Can you break Space Invaders? Great! You get a $200,000 bonus! Here is a movie with the following premise: what if there really WERE pragmatic uses of video games?

As it turns out, an arcade game called STARFIGHTER was actually put on Earth as a simulator of a real spacecraft (gunstar). It was placed here to test the proper skills necessary to fight a nasty armada of fighters.

The big score on the game is achieved by a high school kid who lives in a trailer park out in the middle of nowhere. So, the aliens come to pick him up and "recruit" him for the mission they have designed for him. That is to say, to fly a REAL gunstar against a REAL armada in order to save the universe. Great fun!

I remember in the mid 1980s the special effects in this film looked awesome. Watching it 20 years later, most of the FX look almost pitiful. However, it is still a fun movie even though most kids will find the effects almost insultingly bad.

One of the biggest reasons to pick up this DVD is the lovely Catherine Mary Stewart. I've always had a crush on her, and this was one of her earliest flicks. It's nostalgic to see her high school aged as she's about the same age as myself.

So, if you want a happy-go-lucky sci fi film, this one might be worth checking out. If you're really big on FX, this one may disappoint. However, it's such a feel-good movie that it's bound to please most people.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2002
The Last Starfighter is an excellent fantasy space adventure movie from the eighties. Director Nick Castle responsible for such works as The Boy who could fly and Dennis the Menace really brings out a wonderful little gem. A film that featured the best computer effects at the time over shadowing such films as Tron. Sure the actors in this film are not really well known today (you have to look carefully for Star Trek Next Gens Wil Weaton)except may be Robert Preston from the classic The Music Man. Actor Lance Guest is actually qiute good in the lead. This DVD features a short documentary hosted by Lance Guest himself, quite an informative doco for a small movie. No other big features on the disc.
The Last Starfighter is a great little film, its no masterpiece but well worth watching. Highlights from the film are the special effects and the excellent score by Craig Safan.
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