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THE LAST STARFIGHTER

Terrific. I'm about to get killed a million miles from nowhere
with a gung-ho iguana who tells me to relax.

I am not sure if it was Robert Prestonís winning performance as an intergalactic con man, or the fact that this was one of the first films to employ CGI special effects, but ever since the first time I saw THE LAST STARFIGHTER ($30) up on the big screen, this wonderfully innocent and fun science fiction movie has been one of my personal favorites. Over the twenty-five years since the filmís release, THE LAST STARFIGHTER has continued to grow in popularity; gaining a sizable following on home videoÖ being a perennial favorite on Laserdisc, DVD, HD-DVD and now making its way to Blu-ray. The premise of THE LAST STARFIGHTER follows the adventures of one Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), a teenager growing up in a trailer park dreaming of a better life. However, after getting turned down for student loan to attend the university of his dreams, Alex drowns his sorrows in a round of the videogame StarfighterÖ where the object is to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada.

During the course of the evening, Alex manages to get a record breaking high score on Starfighter, which delights his fellow denizens of the trailer park. As a result of his dazzling victory over Starfighter- Alex is visited by the video gameís inventor a smooth talking con man named Centauri (Robert Preston). No sooner does Alex enter Centauriís "car" for a private meeting, he finds himself being whisked off into outer space, where he discovers that the Starfighter game is in reality a recruitment tool deigned to find gifted fighter pilots to really defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada. After his initial reluctance to join the league, Alex finds himself paired with a star-navigator named Grig (Dan O'Herlihy), who takes Alex into the thick of battle, before informing him that he isÖ The Last Starfighter. The cast of THE LAST STARFIGHTER also features Catherine Mary Stewart, Barbara Bosson, Norman Snow, Chris Hebert, John O'Leary, George McDaniel, Charlene Nelson, Vernon Washington, Peter Nelson, Peggy Pope, Meg Wyllie, Ellen Blake, Britt Leach, Bunny Summers, Owen Bush and Marc Alaimo.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment has made THE LAST STARFIGHTER available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. While this is certainly the best I have ever seen THE LAST STARFIGHTER look in the home venue, and the 1080p presentation certainly makes the most of what the film elements have to offer, some aspects of the cinematography and early CGI techniques keep this Blu-ray release off the demo pile. THE LAST STARFIGHTER appears to have been photographed with a mild diffusion and some smoke, which softens the image a bit. Of course, the diffuse quality does make it appear more consistent with the less textured, early CGI special effects. Close-ups deliver the sharpest, best-defined and textured moments in the film, but they too, are a bit on the diffuse side. Colors are nicely saturated and give many of the earthbound sequences a cozy feeling. Blacks are appropriately deep and the whites are crisp. Contrast is fairly sooth and shadow detail is just fine for a film of this vintage. The elements from which THE LAST STARFIGHTER has been transferred appear clean, with only very mild blemishes becoming apparent. While the actorsí skin doesnít appear overly waxy, the limited amount of visible grain indicates that some DNR has been employed to smooth over the presentation.

THE LAST STARFIGHTER is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that this soundtrack originated in the Dolby Surround era, the lossless audio is really quite good. The sound design is fairly active and the outlying channels, including the surrounds are well utilized for sound effects placement. Of course, the surrounds arenít as active as a newer film and the localization of the sounds isnít as transparent. Additionally, the sound effects have a decidedly thin, canned sound that certainly dates the track back to the eighties. The lossless encode makes Craig Safanís rousing musical score sound better here than I remember it sounding in the past. As for the bass channel, if reinforces explosions and key effects, but isnít the bottom end of the track isnít particularly ground shaking. Dialogue is crisply rendered and fully intelligible. No other language tracks have been included on the disc, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with director Nick Castle and production designer Ron Cobb. Next up is Heroes Of The Screen, a new twenty-five minute HD retrospective on the making of the film with the cast and crew. From the DVD release comes Crossing The Frontier: The Making Of The Last Starfighter- another thirty-minute look back at the production with an emphasis on the CGI effects. An Image Gallery, Teaser Trailer and Theatrical Trailer close out the standard supplements. THE LAST STARFIGHTER is also BD-Live enabled (requires a Profile 2.0 player).

THE LAST STARFIGHTER is a personal favorite that I am glad to have on Blu-ray. While the presentation isnít of demonstration quality, this is the best I have seen this title look in the home venue. Fans of this innocent and charming sci-fi adventure will definitely want to acquire this disc.

 

THE LAST STARFIGHTER 


The Last Starfighter 25th Anniversary [Blu-ray] (1984)

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2009 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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