The Last Starfighter (HD-DVD)
C Sound: C+ Extras: C Film: C+
George Lucas showed his first cut of Star
Wars to Martin Scorsese, Scorsese wisely (as usual) made the profound
observation about the film that it was like being inside a video game. Mind you this was 1977, long before
videogames became as advanced as they are now.
Of the many imitators of the film, Nick Castle’s The Last Starfighter (1984) arrived a year after Lucas’ original
trilogy ended and many thought the space opera cycle was over.
videogame was attempted, then aborted, while toy retailers (in the biggest
mistake since rejecting a Grease
action figure line from Mego) rejected 12 action figures from upstart Galoob
Toys tied to this film. When the film
opened, though it was not a huge blockbuster, it was a bigger hit than many
expected and has had a following ever since.
Besides a consistent following, the alteration of the actual Star Wars films have driven original
fans back to this film among others.
battle in space light years away from earth becomes desperate, the mysterious
Centauri (Robert Preston) arrived to recruit expert videogame player Alex
(Lance Guest) to join the battle. In
effect, he enters the videogame world in a way that is not just the cyberspace
of Tron, but “the real thing” and
that no other film had considered that simple concept to that point is
biggest fan of the film, I can totally understand its appeal and it is a
classic of 1980s pop culture, which is often a repetitious wasteland versus
past decades for said culture, but the film has appreciated in some interesting
ways and it makes sense that this is an early back catalog HD-DVD from
Universal. Too bad the disc is a wreck.
VC-1 digital 2.35 X 1 High Definition image was shot by Director of Photography
King Baggot (son of the famous cinematographer) in real anamorphic Panavision and
shot to be so big that Universal even issued 70mm blow-up prints. Too bad this is one of the worst transfers in
either HD format to date, joining Lethal
Weapon 1 as one of the worst turkeys.
What happened? Obviously, this is
a very, very bad recycle of a semi-HD transfer (720p?) and thrown together in
the worst possible way. Detail and depth
are awful, the sometimes soft look of the film is totally blurred in this
case. What a disappointment.
that this has Dolby TrueHD 5.1 was a hoped-for sign that Universal took care of
this favorite gem, but instead (and much worse than Purple Rain or Terminator 3)
recycles a really bad sound mix. In this
case, a poor upgrade of the original 4.1 Dolby magnetic multi-channel from the
70mm soundmaster and ruins it to no end.
The TrueHD just shows more limits and problems than the Dolby Digital
Plus 5.1 mix which itself is as wreck and equally weak. Craig Safan (Remo Williams – The Adventure Begins) even delivered one of his
most interesting scores, but this mix does not do that justice either. What was the studio thinking?
include a making of featurette Crossing
The Frontier and feature length audio commentary by Castle and production
designer Ron Cobb of Conan The Barbarian
and Leviathan. Needless to say this film deserves more
extras too, so only diehard fans need apply to this release, if that. To the films advantage are supporting
performances by Dan O’Herlihy, Barbara Bosson and Will Wheaton, but most of
all, The Last Starfighter is one of
the final testaments to the space opera dreams of a generation and it deserves
much better than this.
- Nicholas Sheffo