le 13 juin 2016
THE LAST STARFIGHTER [1984 / 2016] [25th Anniversary Edition] [Blu-ray] [US Release] The Adventure of a Lifetime is about to Begin!
"Greetings, Starfighter! You have been recruited by The Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and The Kodan Armada." So begins an adventure of galactic proportions in ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER.’ After Earthling Alex Logan [Lance Guest] conquers the Starfighter video game, he is recruited by alien Centauri [Robert Preston] to be part of an elite legion of fighters. Leaving behind his trailer park home for the outer regions of space, Alex becomes the last hope for the beleaguered Star League and hundreds of worlds – including Earth. Loaded with out-of-this-world bonus features and digitally remastered for optimum picture quality, ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ 25th Anniversary Edition is the ultimate video game fantasies come true!
FILM FACT: ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ is one of the earliest films to make extensive use of computer graphics for its special effects. In place of physical models, 3D rendered models were used to depict space ships and many other objects. The Gunstar and other spaceships were the design of artist Ron Cobb, who also worked on ‘Alien,’ ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Conan the Barbarian.’ The computer graphics for the film were rendered by Digital Productions on a Cray X-MP supercomputer. The company created 27 minutes of effects for the film. This was considered an enormous amount of computer generated imagery at the time
Cast: Lance Guest, Robert Preston, Dan O'Herlihy, Catherine Mary Stewart, Norman Snow, Kay E. Kuter, Barbara Bosson, Chris Hebert, Dan Mason, Vernon Washington, John O'Leary, George McDaniel, Charlene Nelson, John Maio, Al Berry, Scott Dunlop, Peter Nelson, Peggy Pope, Meg Wyllie, Ellen Blake, Britt Leach, Bunny Summers, Owen Bush, Marc Alaimo, Wil Wheaton, Cameron Dye and Geoffrey Blake
Director: Nick Castle
Producers: Edward O. Denault and Gary Adelson
Screenplay: Jonathan R. Betuel
Composer: Craig Safan
Cinematography: King Baggot
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]
Audio: English: 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English: 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish and French
Running Time: 100 minutes
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: With the 1984 film ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER,’ director Nick Castle and writer Jonathan R. Betuel have done something so simple it's almost awe-inspiring: they've taken a very human story and accented it with sci-fi special effects, rather than the other way around? Alex Rogan [Lance Guest] is a teenager with a talent for a lone video game that was somehow dropped off at his mother’s rundown, remote trailer park when it should have been delivered to Las Vegas. And when he breaks the record for destroying alien invaders, Lance Guest not only excites the whole trailer park, he attracts a visit from Centauri [Robert Preston].
There is never a moment that all of this doesn’t seem quite possible, accompanied by plenty of building questions about what’s going to happen next. Not to be lost in the plethora of great 1984 films is this ground-breaking sci-fi film that’s every bit as enjoyable as it was when I first viewed in in 1984. ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER,’ came out during a glorious age: when video games and genre films were enjoying a huge popularity and there really was nothing geeky about enjoying any of it. Later on, genre pictures were considered fringe and people who enjoyed them were geeks, but at this point it seemed that everyone was in on it.
This film doesn’t get as much recognition as the 1982 film ‘TRON’ for advancing the use of computer generated imagery, but frankly neither of them are acknowledged anywhere near as much as they should be. ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ may have been the first, certainly the best early use of three dimensional photo real computer graphics used in a photographed feature film. It really is amazing how advanced this was for 1984. I know the effects look a bit primitive, but compared to what was out there at the time it was ground-breaking.
I think the film looks really great for its age, and while there are a great many digital elements in certain scenes, the space battles in particular, there is always an effort to blend them with the photo elements. It may not always have been successful, but the film never has those completely digital scenes that could have ended up looking like a computer generated animation film. But the sci-fi film is really a lot more than about the effects alone, but the effects really are there to enhance the story, not tell it, which is exactly how it is supposed to go. It is a wonderful picture with a good message and a ton of heart.
The concept behind the story is very simple and effective: the arcade game that the protagonist has been mastering is in actuality a recruitment test that has been duplicated throughout the world or even the universe? But when the young man beats the game, the alien inventor knows he has found his hero, especially with setting the story is a trailer park, which is a nice location to really show how trapped Alex Rogan [Lance Guest] is. The sci-fi film is basically set y) in space and of course it instantly reminds you of ‘Star Wars,’ is an easy comparison. The actors are really quite effective, anchored by Robert Preston in his final film role. Robert Preston is absolutely perfect as Centauri, the flim-flam man who invents the game and recruits Alex Rogan to help defend the Frontier from the Ko-Dan Armada. Most genre sci-fi pictures cast an old farmhand to lend gravitas; in this case Robert Preston is adding mischief and is just perfect.
‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ was a great film to come out of the summer of 1984, and as a result it was not a box office success, so shame on that audience in 1984. But it is a film that deserved much better response and truly should be viewed not just as a time capsule or a stepping stone to CGI’s conquest of the film industry. It is a fun, well written and executed film with a good heart and that’s not a bad thing, also children will love this despite the ancient computer-generated effects at the climatic final battle scenes. So if ever I find an arcade game the same, maybe I might get recruited in some far off galaxy in the universe.
Blu-ray Video Quality – Universal Pictures presents us this Blu-ray with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio and a stunning 1080p image transfer that varies between the earthbound trailer park scenes which to my eye showed a natural range of colours and flesh tones, as well as a pleasing, film like quality, and the CGI space shots, which come in crystal clear and sharp. If anything, the HD transfer really brings out the contrast between the live action and the CGI to the point that the CGI shots look even less photo-realistic, and even more like animation. This isn’t a problem with the transfer and it’s a problem with the film that has existed since it was first shown in cinemas. So the transfer is a good one. All in all, the film is watchable, but looks decidedly retro, because all the special effects are digital, they take on a crisper appearance than the rest of the film, and while I have to cut the primitive CGI some slack, the enhanced definition still emphasises its clunky aspects.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – Universal Pictures presents us this Blu-ray with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix, which presents the dialogue clearly in the front channels and distributes music and atmospheric effects through the surrounds. When Craig Safan’s Williams-esque score really kicks in with the brass, the subwoofer comes to life and this happens frequently during the film. There is also some great directionality in this mix, including things like a young boy firing a dart gun into a metal siding at screen right and getting a satisfying “tang!” out of the right channel. Explosions lack the heavy weight strong bass frequencies would normally provide, and though the majestic and rousing music score nicely fills the room, it doesn't possess the full-bodied shadings finer audio tracks provide. Dialogue is generally clear and comprehendible, and range levels handle the highs and lows well. Unfortunately, here was a chance to catapult a 25-year-old film into the next century, but the middling audio often keeps ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ mired in a bygone era.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Special Feature: Heroes of the Screen  [1080p] [1.78:1] [24:18] This all-new special feature is where we get to hear certain fans of ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ 1984 film talk about why they love this film so much, even though it was made at the start of the cutting edge of modern CGI computer technology effects. As we progress this this special we hear all about the technical problems they encountered in producing the Starship and the other space vehicles, even with using the most powerful computer at the time, which they point out that today all the CGI effects can now be done on a laptop computer. We also get to see lots of clips of behind-the-scene filming, as well as clips from the film. But what I really liked about this special feature is again how everyone loves the film still today and especially those involved with the film loved making it and how it still holds up with modern audiences, and I second that, as it is totally brilliant, especially as you can see they put a lot of effort and enthusiasm went into making it real stand out from other sci-fi films, because not only is there a lot of action happening throughout the film, but also a lot of emotional heart is thrown in for good measure. This was a really nice special feature and again it was great hearing everyone’s love and enthusiasm for ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER,’ and what was nice is that everyone spoke very highly of Robert Preston and telling us what a wonderful person he was and also working with him. Contributors to this special feature were Jonathan R. Betuel [Screenwriter]; Gary Adelson [Producer]; Nick Castle [Director]; Lance Guest [Alex Rogan / Beta Alex]; Catherine Mary Stewart [Maggie Gordon]; Craig Safan [Composer]; Jeffrey A. Okun [Visual Effects] and Paul Power [Storyboard Artist].
Special Feature: CROSSING THE FRONTIER: Making ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’  [408i] [1.33:1] [32:00] This is a Universal Studios Home Video presentation. Here you get to view a Four part documentary, which consists of: Introduction; Filming the Movie; A New Era of Visual Effects and Reflections. This is a more in-depth type production of an in-depth look at the process of making the film ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER,’ and hosted by Lance Guest [Alex Rogan], and delves into the film's inspiration, includes some rare on-set footage featuring Robert Preston [Centauri], and provides a more lengthy discussion of the CGI effects and their design, execution, budget limitations, and the long hours required to produce and perfect them. Technicians recall the excitement of discovery as they blazed the CGI trail, and how they fit the newly minted effects into the picture. They also talk about how the story started with screenwriter Jonathan R. Buetel, who was working at an ad agency at the time, wandering into a video arcade in the early 1980s and watching a kid play an arcade game, where he envisioned an arcade game that was also like the Arthurian “Sword in the Stone” type scenario and a game that would beam out a signal, announcing the chosen one, when a high score was reached. Originally, ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ was going to be set in the suburbs, not in a trailer park, but they felt that was too similar to films like ‘E.T.,’ ‘Close Encounters’ and ‘Poltergeist.’ In fact, director Nick Castle spent a lot of time comparing his film to the works of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, as Nick Castle knew that comparisons to ‘Star War’ were inevitable and then doing his best to make his sci-fi different, which wasn't always easy. There also great praise on the film music score by Craig Safan, who has produced something really special, that islike a combination of films like ‘Indiana Jones,’ ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars’ all rolled into one. So all in all, this is great insightful documentary. Plus we get to hear views from the following contributors, that include Gary Adelson [Producer]; James D. Bissell [Art Director]; John H. Whitney, Jr. [Associate Producer]; Gary Demos [Technical Executive]; Ron Cobb [Production Designer]; Jeffrey A. Okun [Visual Effects Coordinator]’ Kevin Rafferty [Senior Drafter/Encoder]; Rick Sternbach [Illustrator]; Latty Yaeger [Software Developer]; Craig Safan [Composer]; Dennis Muren [Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM] and John Knoll [Visual Effects Supervisor, ILM]
Special Feature: Image Gallery  [408i] [1.33:1] here you get to view Nine separate image galleries and they are as follows: The Cast [3:33]; “Starfighter” Arcade Game [5:40]; Starfighter Command [28:52]; The Starcar [11:03]; The Gunstar [10:12]; Ko-Dan Armada [12:00]; Alternate Ending [5:24]; Anatomy of a Starfighter Computer-Generated Image [4:58]; Promotion and Merchandise [3:55]. When viewing each separate Image Gallery, they run like a slide show and the whole viewing experience is in total silent.
Teaser Trailer  [480i] [1.37:1] [1:30] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer of ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER.’ Despite the low quality image, it is still a great presentation.
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [1.37:1] [2:45] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer of ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER.’ Once again despite the poor quality image, it is still a great presentation.
Audio Commentary: Commentary with Director Nick Castle and Production Designer Ron Cobb: Here we are introduced to director Nick Castle on the left speaker and production designer Ron Cobb on the right speaker; settle in for a relaxed and very interesting commentary that will engage both the film's faithful followers and those just now discovering ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER.’ Nick Castle informs us at the start of the film that he wanted the Planet Rylas to appear at the start of the film and not the Universal logo and they also talk about the “Time Dilation Tunnel” which of course you view later on the film. They also inform us that they were both viewing the film in the right aspect ratio, but not 15 years earlier. They chose the trailer park, as it gave Alex Logan and extended family and they think the trailer park no long exists. Nick Castle admits he never dreamed he'd ever do a special effects sci-fi film, as he envisioned himself to be the Vincente Minnelli of the 1980s and 1990s. As such, he compares the structure of ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ to a "musical without music," and says he tried to avoid the Steven Spielberg and George Lucas touches as much as possible, but didn't always succeed. Nick Castle talks about Robert Preston first turning up in the space car and says the veteran actor in this film as the, “Music man in Outer Space,” and Ron Cobb goes into great detail how the space car was built, but surprised to hear it had a Volkswagen engine, and did not drive very fast, but of course in the film it is made to look with special effects like it is driving at 303 mph. Nick Castle also feared the sci-fi film would end up looking like ‘Gumby in Outer Space.’ Nick Castle likens Lance Guest to a teenage Jimmy Stewart or Henry Fonda, and divulges that the original names of the two lead characters were Skip and Penny. Ron Cobb discusses the film's primitive digital effects, and the challenges involved in creating procedures that are easy to perform today via a laptop computer. As we get near to the end of the film especially when the rocket lands in the parking area of the trailer park and Alex walks towards his girlfriend Maggie to reveal himself, here Nick Castle comments by saying, “and this I think what makes the film’s storyline charming, where the boy has made good and comes home to tell his folks, his friends and the girlfriend that he has done good, especially in the big universe.” As the credits roll up the screen, Nick Castles mentions that he felt originally the film would never have gotten made or get finished because of the first time of computer technology, as it was a complete leap into the dark and never had been used before for this type of sci-fi film, but with the help of Ron Cobb, we knew we could get the job done, but Nick Castle also wondered if they could also get the film out on time and the get the film inside the budget,, but most of all, could they get the job done. So ends another fascinating audio commentary, where Nick Castle and Ron Cobb were very engaging, a joy to listen to, straightforward but never dull, this again was a very engaging audio commentary that matches the film's laid-back tone, that you get a very warm glow of enjoyment and was a joy to listen to and should not be missed.
BONUS: BD-LIVE: Basic Download Centre: Here you get a link to Universal Pictures online portal, but there's no exclusive content relating to ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER.' But you do get to explore more bonus features where you can access even more through your Internet-connected player to watch exclusive content, the latest trailer and even more! Powered by BD-LIVE!
BONUS: USER GUIDE: BD-LIVE CENTER: Here you get video information presentation about the different extra facilities you get on your Blu-ray disc, which includes: MY SCENE; EXTRAS; U-CONTROL; BD-LIVE and USER GUIDE.
Finally, what's truly amazing about ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ is that it's not just a test vehicle for a radical new breed of visual effects that would transform Hollywood forever. The filmmakers smartly told a story well worth telling and worked their magic into the story, rather than simply tacking a story with add on special effects as a mere afterthought. ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ is a great sci-fi film, and would have been equally great had it used models and miniatures or had it been made in the past several years where near-seamless effects now find their way into most any Science Fiction picture. Exciting, emotional, well-written, wonderfully acted, and boasting one of the finest scores of the past several decades, ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ is simply one of the best of its kind that comes personally with a recommendation solely on the strength and historical importance of the sci-fi film, so fans should make their upgrade decision accordingly. Still, the 1080p transfer beats standard DVD by a mile, and should please the legions of diehard fans for which this 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray disc is tailor-made for them and also for people who have never seen this sci-fi film before. This is a fantasy and I really love. ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ will always cheer me up anytime I feel down and I hope it does the same for you. This sci-fi film was way ahead of its time. The computer graphics alone show the statement to be true. But on top of being an effects sci-fi film, ‘THE LAST STARFIGHTER’ delivers a really good plot and fantastic actors. This may be something Hollywood should look into, for most modern films will give up on plot and characters when the film has special effects over the top budget. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom