Quantum Geek: The Last Starfighter (July 1984)

As summer is now in full swing, the Quantum Geek is currently sitting at home, slowly baking by the bedroom window and recovering from a trapped nerve. What's your excuse? Nocturnal? Never mind, it just so happens that I have one of the geekiest of '80s movie reviews for you right here!

retro movie reviews at nerdgenious.com

I don't know what you want to do with your life. Options never seem hard to come by these days, but the problem is never really what we'd like to do. The problem is most often the lack of opportunities presenting themselves, especially to the fantasists that love to think outside the box. Just like in 1984's sci-fi fantasy The Last Starfighter dictates, you really have to keep your ambitions alive while having an open mind...

Lance Guest arcade gamer sci-fi fantasy The Last Starfighter

What I miss about '80s movies, like this one, isn't just reckless and inconsequential daydreaming made purely to appease the inner child of audiences everywhere, it's how audiences receive such entertainment. Blame the Internet or blame multi-billion dollar conglomerate media corporations that spoil the shit out us from an early age, making movies that will go on to sell tonnes of merchandise and turn a simple idea into a big fat cash cow. Having thought about that for years, I tend to view most movies with a childlike innocence, knowing when to shove my media knowledge to one side.

Saying that, fuck you, Michael Bay, I will never pay you to piss on my childhood and insult my intelligence. I am onto your shit!

The Last Starfighter is one of those movies that no doubt hoped to score big, back in the day. Hailing from a time when arcade gaming machines were the craze. Written by Nick Castle, who is responsible for having written Escape from New York, you'd think that would give you an inkling as to where this might be headed. Well let's just jump ahead of ourselves and point out that he also brought us that Macauley Culkin mess that was Dennis the Menace. FUCK YOU TOO, CULKIN!!!

Star Fighter creator Centauri. He's a bit of a dick.
Macauley Culkin??? Hank, anal probe that cocky little fucker!
Universal seemed to have modeled it off '70s Disney movies and sci-fi shows. Battlestar Gallactica and Buck Rogers never gave a shit. That was a great outlook at the time and so the '70s gave us all the fantastical influence we needed but the '80s was king for sci-fi, no matter how tacky. Special visual effects were at a crossroads back then, but thankfully, movie drama in such genres and subgenres was still pretty sure of itself.

Alex Rogen (Lange Guest of Halloween 2 and Jaws: The Revenge) is a teenager living in a boring rural town where the only thing to do is play arcade games and drive around. He has big things to do with his life, he just doesn't know what, and he also seems to think that college is a waste of time (since he gets turned down for a college loan). Probably for the best as college doesn't teach you how to be less douchy, aimless and antisocial, eh Alex?

Lance Guest as Alex Rogen passing the test in The Last Starfighter
The secret to winning any 80s arcade game was all in the pose.
But for fuck's sake, man, when your girlfriend is the dreamy Catherine Mary Stewart cheer up...

nomnomnomnom
Just... so... CUTE!!!
Anyhoooo, it turns out that this new arcade game, Starfighter, is actually a test, because the alien race defending the planet Rylos from evil invaders sent arcade games throughout the universe as battle simulators, desperately in search of new Starfighters, because most of theirs are dead. Alex, defeating the game quickly, is approached by Centauri, an alien disguised as a pre-vert lookin' old guy asking Alex if he wants to go for a ride. Actually that's not the way it goes, but I'm trying to entertain you and not spoil this.

So, with nothing else to do with his life, he tries his hand at this saving the aliens gig, especially since their enemy, led by their very own leader's twatbasket son, is planning on destroying Earth too. Enter Grig, a funny old Starfighter that looks like he has a melty Easter egg for a face, played by none other than Robocop's old man Dan O'Herlihy ("nice shooting son, what's your name?").


No worries for Alex's girlfriend either, since she's the movie's eye candy and can't be left out of the picture as soon as Alex goes on his merry space travels. Centauri has left a robot clone of Alex behind to take his place, but things don't go to plan. Aliens want Alex dead so he can't defeat their mighty armada later on, aaaand let's just say things get awkward but seriously funny...

The Last Starfighter Alex Rogen robot clone LMD
"OH HAI, I WAS JUST GIVING MYSELF HEAD..."
This is pure childish '80s fantasy for all the family, except bitchy parents that think some scenes might be inappropriate. One of the most violent shows of all time was Tom & Jerry, but you never bitched about that. Craig Safan lends Starfighter a greatly effective soundtrack full of pomp. excitement and emotion, and it feels like the precursor to Alan Silvestri's Back to the Future score. Like I say, '80s standard. The only problem I have is with the really basic spaceship visual effects. The fucking arcade game in the movie had better graphics than some of the actual movie scenes, but with Dan O'Herlihy making the most of his alien character, you just laugh and laugh and that's a good thing, in my eyes.

1987 Robocop OCP old man Dan O'Herlihy alien Grig O-Face
"OH YES, ROBOT ALEX, YES, YES, YES!!!"
This is one of those classic weekend afternoon movies when your arse grows roots to the chair after dinner and you just cannot move, but like Flight of the Navigator, The Explorers and such, it has its very own original charm. How did The Last Starfighter change the world. It didn't. Not in the slightest. It just caught onto the fact that video games are a good subject for kids with no aim in life and utilises that fact quite harmlessly. So often entertainment is more than just entertainment. In this case, it's nothing more than enjoyable harmless fun. Here, take a look for yourself!


-Dan Ashley
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