Together with its contemporary, Tron, Last Starfighter is notable as the first film to make extensive use of CGI effects, ironically the element that would come to define the Star Wars prequels and re-releases. Though obviously dated, the effects hold up surprisingly well to this day.
The concept is a strong one as far as children's fantasies go: a teen growing up in a small rural community dreams of getting out into the wider world. To pass the time he plays an arcade game at the local gas station eponymously titled "The Last Starfighter." Typical teens trials and tribulations regarding friends, girls, and family occurs, and one night, full of frustration and angst, he makes his way to the game and finally manages to beat it. And this is where things get weird.
This isn't the sort of film that can be taken too seriously, but it makes up for its small budget and goofy story with some exceptional veteran actors, an improbably witty and intelligent script, a very good score that manages to tap into the spirit of William's iconic Star Wars themes without simply bastardizing them, and some pretty high quality creature effects.
From what I understand, the film was a modest success, and everyone I know who saw the film growing up in the 80s remembers it fondly. I suppose one might consider it a "cult classic" in this day and age, one that surprisingly (perhaps mercifully) was never subjected to a sequel or reboot. Though there was, oddly enough, an off-broadway musical adaption!
Which is why there wasn't a Last Starfighter video game when the film came out. Generation X is the "merchandising generation", and even at that tender age I thought it was bizarre that I couldnt play this game from a film I loved so much. Especially as the end credits of the film actually advertised a game from Atari!
I've...never done so. It warms my heart to know that this is out there, and exists now, I feel like that in and of itself completes some childhood quest. But I've long since outgrown the me that would have enjoyed this. I prefer it exist as a memory.
And now if you'll excuse me, I think in writing this I've just engendered the urge to once again pop in my Last Starfighter DVD...