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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good-natured tale of how the universe was saved, with a great lizard by Dan O'Herlihy, 11 Sept. 2007
This review is from: The Last Starfighter [Collector's Edition] (REGION 1) (NTSC) [DVD] [1984] [US Import] (DVD)
"Greetings, Starfighter," says the mechanical voice of the video game. "You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xun and the Ko-dan armada."

Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is a teenager who lives in a desert trailer park "in the middle of tumbleweeds and tarantulas." He's reasonably smart, has a nice girlfriend and is a little shy. One evening he manages to set a world record on the flashy game set on the porch of the trailer park's ramshackle store. He soon finds out every word of the video game is true. Within hours he's been picked up by Centauri (Robert Preston), who takes him on an intergalactic visit to Star Fleet command. He learns the video game's purpose was to recruit potential Starfighters who have the skill and reflexes to take on the invading Ko-dan fleet. In fact, these Starfighters are all that stand between the Star League with it's mission of galactic peace and, in the words of Ambassador Enduran, "the black terror of the Ko-dan."

Alex is having none of this, even after he meets his lizard navigator, Grig (Dan O'Herlihy). Centauri reluctantly returns him to earth and tries to change his mind. "Alex! Alex!" he says, "you're walking away from history! History, Alex! Did Chris Columbus stay home? Nooooo. What if the Wright Brothers thought that only birds should fly? And did Galoka think that the Ulus were too ugly to save?" "Who's Galoka?" Alex asks. "Never mind." "Listen, Centauri," Alex says, "I'm not any of those guys. I'm a kid from a trailer park." Centauri looks at him and shakes his head. "If that's what you think," he tells Alex, "then that's all you'll ever be." Meanwhile the Ko-dan, aided by the traitor Xun, son of Enduran, break through the defense shield and destroy Starbase, the gunfighters and their pilots. Alex finally decides to return and reunites with Grig. They prepare to join the fight. Then something occurs to Alex. "So...how many Starfighters are left?" he asks Grig. "Including you? One."

Well, what would you do next? Alex decides to save the universe. That's what I would have done, too.

The Last Starfighter, in my opinion, is a sweet-natured story of a kid up to his neck in a situation he knows can't be true, and then finds out it is. And he rises to the occasion. Lance Guest makes a very sympathetic young hero. Even better are the the older cast members who back him up (the actors playing the residents in the trailer park and people -- things, I guess -- at Starbase) or who try to bring him down (the actors playing Xun and the evil Ko-dan.) Robert Preston as Centauri is a stand-out, all larceny with a heart, a fast-talker who does the right things in spite of himse -- itself. Best of all is Dan O'Herlihy as Grig in full lizard skin and make-up. He manages to show humor, compassion, roaring enthusiasm, courage...you name it...just with his voice, his body language and his eyes. Without him, the movie would lack far too much.

The film also has an amusing, affectionate script and special effects that, to my eye, still look good even with all the advances in Computer Generated Overkill. For shy kids who've ever secretly dreamed of doing something wildly heroic and then receiving everyone's praise, this movie probably has a lot of meaning. I'd think most adults might remember those days, themselves, and get a kick from it.

The DVD picture looks fine to me. There are a few extras including a "making of" documentary and a commentary by director Nick Castle and production designed Ron Cobb.
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Initial post: 6 Aug 2011 13:34:56 BDT
What a great review of this classic film!
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C. O. DeRiemer
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