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The Last Starfighter [1984] In a secluded trailer park somewhere in the countryside, where the stars get to shine a little bit brighter, a young man finds recourse from the disappointments of life in the only arcade machine for miles. After finally acing its high score, he's visited by an alien, who tries to recruit him into a galactic army to save the galaxy from an evil tyrant. 

Get Me Out Of Here. We all kinda live in a mundane world, and it's safe to say that from time to time we need to get the hell out of it. If you love movies, then we probably have something in common: you head into the theater hoping to god you'll fall into the screen and live a completely different life. However, with Hollywood producing comic, novel, game and cartoon adaptations, it's fairly common to sit in the theater and wonder, 'why in all of God's green gayness have these people decided to make another sub-par adaptation?' In this way, films have now become more about 'successful adaptations' instead of story or dare I say, the audience. The Last Starfighter, like very few films around these days, is an original sci-fi/fantasy movie, that meets the audience where they are – in their monotonous daily routines imbedded in a seemingly boring-ass reality. It's here that we step into the shoes of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest).

The Hero. Alex Rogan is a teenager desperately trying to get out into the world and make something of himself, and like any thoughtful young person, he sometimes places other people before himself, leaving him at a frustrating disadvantage. Much like us, though, he's able to find some solace in entertainment; an arcade space game. It's his only saving grace, and his talent for this game gives him a sense of achievement. But when he receives a rejection letter from a university he's had his eyes on, nothing can pull him out of this misery, except of course for a  bizarre encounter with a strange man, Centauri (Robert Preston), who invites him for a ride in his futuristic car. What's refreshing is that we are not familiar with this film from a book, cartoon, game or comic. We are with the protagonist step by step, not really sure where this bizarre man is going to take him or why.

His Destiny. After leaving the quaint little trailer park for the first time, we experience an exciting reversal as Centauri's car transforms into a spaceship and flies us up into the starry night, that has, thus far,  only been glistening with possibilities. We've now crossed the threshold that will lead us to Alex's destiny, which seems as mysterious as the stars above.

The Danger! Centauri brings Alex to a galactic military facility, Rilos, where he learns he's been recruited to help save the galaxy from the evil Xur and his army - just like in the arcade game. Centauri explains that the game was merely a test to find a pilot with the skills to join starfighters from other planets to fight Xur. For now, this is a bit much for our hero, until he learns that he's been followed by one of Xur's spies, placing the trailer park in danger.

The Myth. This film lends itself magnificently to the myth of the hero: the one who enters a special world, only to find out that their unique ability to aid in destroying evil is hidden behind doubt and inexperience. As the audience, we take that journey with Alex and move through an unknown universe and learn of threats of galactic proportions. To me this is the heart of storytelling; the heart of cinema, to explore humanity by delving into the unknown.

 

The Last Starfighter might be an old film, but it's one big adventure.

The Last Starfighter
3.5Overall Score
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