Alex Rogan (Lance Guest) lives with his mother Jane (Barbara Bosson) and his brother Louis (Chris Herbert) in the Starlight Starbright Trailer Court. His girlfriend Maggie Gordon (Catherine Mary Stewart) also lives in the court with her grandmother. Alex is bored with his life at the trailer park and wants to get out. He has applied for a student loan so that he can go to college but gets turned down. The only interesting thing that has happened lately is that he became the highest scorer in the park’s arcade game called Starfighter. In the game he must “defend the frontier against Xur and the Kodan Armada”. The whole park watches as he breaks one million points on the machine.
Later that night Alex is approached by someone who calls himself Centauri (Robert Preston). Centauri tells him that he invented the Starfighter game and that Alex is special for beating it. He asks Alex if he wants the opportunity to have adventure. Centauri takes Alex for a ride. The car turns into a spaceship and Alex finds himself in space on the way toward planet Rylos. Centauri leaves behind a robot Alex doppelganger to cover for Alex while he is away.
At the Rylos Starfighter base Alex finds that he has been recruited by the Rylos Star League to be a Starfighter. Since Alex thought that all he was doing was playing a game he finds himself over his head when star command expects him to actually fight in a space war. Alex informs an alien reptile called Grig (Dan O’Herlihy) of the mistake. Centauri is forced to bring Alex home.
While Centauri is bringing Alex back to Earth the Starfighter base’s force field is damaged by a saboteur and the base destroyed by Rylos traitor Xur (Norman Snow) who is working for the leader of the Kodan Empire. Leaving Alex back on Earth Centauri gives him a communication devise and tells him to contact him should he change his mind.
Alex realizes that the beta unit is still on Earth. He sends a signal to Centauri to return so he can pick up the unit. Unaware of the events that happened on the star base Alex is surprised by an alien hit-man sent by Xur to kill the last Starfighter. Centauri arrives in time to save Alex from being killed and in the process is hit himself by the hit-alien’s laser gun.
Centauri barely makes it back to the space command with Alex only to find it in ruins. Centauri dies from his wound. With the beta unit still on Earth trying to avoid alien hit-men Alex and Grig team up in the only remaining Gunstar ship. They are the only ones left to go after the Kodan armada.
“The Last Starfighter” was released in 1984 and was directed by Nick Castle. It is a science fiction adventure and light comedy film.
Director Nick Castle played “The Shape” in the 1978 John Carpenter movie “Halloween”. At one point Wil Wheaton had a speaking part in the film but it was cut. Dan O'Herlihy also played Grig's wife in Grig's family photo.
“The Last Starfighter” and Disney's “Tron” 1982 were two of the first movies that used computer generated imaging (CGI). “Starfighter” has about 27 minutes of CGI. The graphics were done on a Cray X-MP supercomputer. The Starcar that Centauri drives was created by Gene Winfield. Made out of stainless steel with a VW engine it was based on Winfield's Spinner designs from Blade Runner.
Nick Castle did everything he could think of to make “The Last Starfighter” not like anything Spielberg or Lucas was doing, and he did. The film was a refreshing change from the usual alien battle movie. The added touch of it being a light comedy blended well with the standard war in space opera. The comedy was natural and not in your face. The main characters were fleshed out nicely. It’s a highly entertaining film. This one has earned its cult following.
In the Archive version the film doesn’t start until about twenty-two minutes into the video.