Last September, I had the pleasure of interviewing actress Catherine Mary Stewart. One of her most beloved movies is The Last Starfighter, which turns 30 this year.
The film, directed by Nick Castle (who is beloved by horror fans for playing the murderous Michael Myers in the original 1978 Halloween), tells the story of Alex Rogan (Lance Guest), who lives in a trailer park with his mother (Barbara Bosson) and kid brother (Chris Hebert). In his free time, he hangs out with his girlfriend Maggie (Stewart) and plays the video game Starfighter.
One night, a man named Centauri (Robert Preston) arrives and takes Alex to the planet Rylos, leaving an android behind to impersonate Alex.
Alex realizes that he is now living the video game he has become so good at when the evil Xur (Norman Snow) attacks and kills all the Starfighters except Alex.
Although reluctant at first, he later embraces the chance to become a real-life hero and, with his pilot Grig (Dan O’Herlihy), fights Xur and his armada.
In lesser hands, this film would have been simply a Star Wars-knockoff. But what keeps it from being so is the story’s wonderful pace from beginning to end, as well as the engaging characters, especially Centauri, who is wonderfully portrayed by Preston in his final film role.