Last Starfighter (25th Anniversary) [Blu-ray]
(Nick Castle, 1984)
Review by Leonard Norwitz
Blu-ray: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
(as verified by the
Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 36,514,128,886 bytes
Feature Size: 28,233,154,560 bytes
Video Bitrate: 31.31 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: August 18th, 2009
Aspect ratio: 2.4:1
Video codec: VC-1 Video
DTS-HD Master Audio English 3929 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz /
3929 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps /
Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz /
192 kbps / Dolby Surround
English (SDH), English, French, Spanish, none
• Feature Commentary with Director Nick Castle & Production
Designer Ron Cobb.
• Crossing the Frontier: Making of The Last Starfighter – in
• Heroes of the Screen: a retrospective documentary with
cast & crew - in HD (24:19)
• Image Gallery: Production photos, Promotional material &
an Alternate Ending.
• BD-Live 2.0
• D-Box Motion Enabled
One of the perks about writing for my fellow Beavers is
that I can expect a certain level of familiarity with
movies made before The Bourne Identity. I dare say many
of you out there know more than I about classic and
obscure films, so when I relate The Last Starfighter to
Tron, Toy Story 2 or This Island Earth, you all know
what I'm talking about without my having to detail the
allusion. Galaxy Quest did not leap out of the head of
its creator without films like Starfighter dancing
around the brain like sugarplums.
Once called "One of the best B-movie ever made"
The Last Starfighter lives up to its calling even 25 years later.
That's one of the nice things about B-movies –
production values are not so high that we go crazy
picking at this or that shortcoming. In the commentary,
Director Nick Castle and Production Designer Ron Cobb
speak at length about this movie being on the cutting
age of cinema digital effects. These effects look
primitive now. So too is the Atari vintage video game
that our hero plays outside his trailer. We can but
With consciously applied cues from Steven Spielberg
(especially CE3K and E.T.) especially in his portrayal
of Americana (familiar and comforting) and the music
scoring (unimaginative and repetitive), Castle and
writer Jonathan Betuel have fashioned a thoroughly
likeable fantasy about an unlikely – and, of course,
reluctant – hero who saves the day and the galaxy. Throw
in a little romance with the girl next door, some outer
space combats and Voila!
Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is the son of the manager of a
rural trailer court, who aims to quit this place and go
on to bigger and better things – like college or
something one can actually wrap one's mind around. In
between fixing the plumbing and the occasional smooching
with his girlfriend (Catherine Mary Stewart), he
challenges the record for the arcade video game "Starfighter,"
which was accidentally dumped here instead of Vegas. One
night, as neighbors crowd around to cheer him on, Alex
breaks the record, which, in turn, signals a visit by a
dapper man driving a slick gull wing car in a stylish
hat. He calls himself Centauri (Robert Preston) and
claims to be from the Star League of Planets, for whom
he invented Alex's video game to test the skills of
potential starfighters - as well as a novel method for
learning to play to tuba, we should imagine.
A short ride, and Alex is transported to Centauri's home
planet to be inducted into a desperate fight against the Ko-Dan.
Alex gets the deadly point of all this rather quickly and
chooses necking over fighting. So back home he is whisked.
Meantime the Ko-Dan levy their first attack, pretty much
wiping out the defenses of the guys in the white suits. One
thing leads to another and back Alex goes, where he, still
very reluctantly and fearfully, fine-tunes his craft with
the help of his navigator/guru/mentor, Grig (Dan O'Herlihy).
The Last Starfighter makes for a thoroughly likeable popcorn
movie - but, even with the assistance of Preston and
O'Herlihy (both of whom are priceless here), this is not
major league material. Clearly, it doesn't pretend to be,
and for that reason succeeds beyond its wildest imagination.
NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were ripped directly from the
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Alas, I have not seen Universal's early HD-DVD transfer of
this movie but, from all reports, it was not representative
of the medium - probably about as good as how I remember
seeing it in not so good projection at the local dollar
cineplex. My, that was an unhappy experience! From the look
of the Blu-ray, I would guess that some effort went into
re-imagining this movie for
high-def. Colors are bold, Blacks are deep. Everything looks
clean and sharp. I can say with some certainty that I've
never seen The Last Starfighter looking this good. But, hold
on a moment – perhaps, too good. A little too smooth,
perhaps. Could this be the dreaded DNR at work! I daresay.
Still, I am not deterred. The spongy look seems to fit
somehow with the territory. Perhaps I am merely making
excuses. Doesn't matter.
CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Audio & Music:
Dynamic and clear though the uncompressed audio mix is, the
great majority of it plays stereo front, even in the battle
sequences, which are not many. In such moments, there is
some localization of effects as we should hope when Alex's
starfighter is under attack by a small armada. Dialogue has
some treble boost to it – for the sake of clarity, one
imagines - making it more unnatural than it needs to be.
Craig Safan's music score is unabashedly stolen from John
Williams' Raiders of the Last Ark.
The menu is laid out like other Universal Blu-rays. Arrows
tell you which way to direct your remote, and the bonus
feature instructions are detailed and intuitive. It's all
very dense, but after you have a couple of Universal
Blu-rays under your belt, it's easy enough to navigate.
The commentary by Director Nick Castle & Production Designer
Ron looks back fondly at the good old days, how this project
came into being with its special, special digital effects,
unique for its day. The on again, off again train of thought
covers casting, characters, story and filming philosophy.
Recommendation : 8
I can't help liking this movie, for all its limitations.
It's playful, witty, and a bit romantic. It has nothing
important to say and never takes itself seriously. The movie
has never looked this good, even with what I take to be DNR
which, accountably, I don't seem to mind all that much.
August 5th, 2009