Cast and Crew: Nick Castle (Director); Dan O’Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Robert Preston, Wil Wheaton, Bruce Abbott
What It’s About: A farmboy teenager lives in a moisture farm on a backwater desert planet trailer park. His father is out of the picture and, though he’s a good kid and does his chores, he dreams of attending the Academy a good college. He spends a lot of time in his T-16 shooting womprats playing Starfighter, a really bad ass video game. One day his uncle buys new droids that have a mission to fulfill he gets the highest score in Starfighter ever and the droids take him to a mysterious old mystic who wants him to come on a mission to rescue a princess a mysterious old man in a Delorian shows up and takes him to be the latest recruit to fight Xur and the Ko-Dan armada. The boy has doubts and returns home to find his aunt and uncle killed returns home which allows him to avoid being massacred with the rest of the Starfighters. After a perilous rescue of the princess from the Death Star several run-ins with bounty hunters sent by Xur, the boy (with a little help from a friendly smuggler and his alien sidekick his alien sidekick) flies against The Death Star Xur’s flagship and has to hit a tiny ventilation shaft control unit which sets off a chain reaction that blows up the Death Star allows the boy to use a special weapon to destroy the rest of the armada.
Why Watch it Today?: The arcade classic Space Invaders was released today in 1978. As you can tell in my summary above, The Last Starfighter is heavily based on the formula that made Star Wars such a big hit, but it makes one crucial substitution: instead of “The Force” and a secret background, our hero, Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) is chosen by a unique recruiting tool: a video game that is really a simulation of combat aboard a Starfighter, appealing to the fans of both Star Wars and arcade games like Space Invaders. The film failed to launch its own franchise, but is well-remembered by those who grew up watching it on cable; it features one of the first uses of computer animation, used for all the space craft.