“Greetings, Starfighter. You have been recruited by the Star League to defend the Frontier against Xur and the Ko-dan Armada.”
Those words make me smile, and give me excited chills at the same time.
Now, for Sue and I, it’s taken on a whole new level of awesome. Believe me, this film was already at an incredibly high level of awesome for me.
This weekend at the Wizard World Comic Con here in Toronto, Sue and I had time to chat with the film’s two leads, Lance Guest and Catherine Mary Stewart.
And just chatting with them set the wayback machine that is my brain back to that wondrous year…
Alex Rogan (Guest), a dreamer, living (read as stuck) in a trailer park in a small town, his walls are covered in pictures and posters of places he can only dream that he’ll visit. His lone escapes are his girlfriend Maggie (Stewart), and a stand-up arcade game called Starfighter.
He learns that the game is a modern Excalibur test, overseen by a flim-flam-type character Centauri, who takes him off-planet to save not only Earth, but the universe from the threat of the Ko-dan armada.
The film, coming up on its 30th anniversary in just two years, holds up amazingly well. And the CG, considered revolutionary at the time, and it truly was, nothing like it had been seen before, still stands up. Though the effects are nowhere as sharp and glossy as they would be today, they lend to it a sense of fun and sheer cinematic joy.
Alex is the dreamer in all of us, and though I never had a mobile hanging from my ceiling, I totally related to watching him tilt and move in his chair to maneuver around them.
I would do the same thing for years, I still do. But back in the 80s, I got to do that in the best of places, under the unpolluted skies of Bermuda. I can remember laying out in the field of the Canadian base just looking at the masses upon masses of stars that were visible, and just dreaming.
At it’s heart, Starfighter is the traditional quest film. But in an addition to that, it’s fun.
And that fun must have extended off-screen as well, because chatting with Lance and Catherine today (wait until you hear THAT podcast) it’s obvious that there is not only genuine affection between them, they revel in one another’s company, chatting and playing.
I know there are some people who haven’t seen this film, I know there are some people who don’t want to see this film.
In both cases, I can only say, you don’t know what you’re missing.
The film delights with all that it is.
And honestly, is there anyone who hasn’t dreamed of being taken away to a distant planet, and told that you can be a hero, and given the means to do it?
Who wouldn’t want their own gunstar??
There is an innocence and joy that permeates this film. An optimism that sometimes seems sadly lacking in the films of today.
I love this movie.
They say you should never meet your heroes.
I got to meet a few of them today.
And they did not disappoint.
I’m well aware of the separation of the art from the artist, but seeing Lance and Catherine laughing and chatting together, and with Sue and I… There were moments when I felt that I was looking at Alex and Maggie almost 30 years on, and it made me smile.
They’re gracious, funny, and made Sue and I feel like friends right from the start.
And now, every time I watch The Last Starfighter, and it’s playing again now, even as I write this, the experience is enhanced with the time Catherine and Lance found for us today…
So what are you waiting for Starfighter? Launch that gunstar, load up death blossom, and let’s go take on the Ko-dan armada!!