For a movie that was no doubt jumping on the E.T. and Star Wars bandwagon, The Last Starfighter manages to carve a niche for itself. The story itself is nothing original or exciting — a teenager (Lance Guest) wins the high score on a mysterious video game, and is suddenly recruited by an alien to defend the universe from some cosmic bad asses.
What counts here is charm. The Last Starfighter oozes with the stuff, and it’s a surprisingly unforced. I love the trailer park setting and the depiction of the tight-knit community that live there. Casting The Music Man himself, Robert Preston, as the intergalactic charlatan recruitment officer is a stroke of genius. You can’t help but love Preston, even when you know he’s peddling bullshit. And Dan O’Herlihy does a commendable job acting through heavy prosthetics as the lizard-like Grig.
This is the little B-movie that could. Everyone in front of and behind the camera gave it their all and had fun doing it, and it shows. Craig Safan’s score is among the finest from the decade, and the visual effects were a bold, groundbreaking step forward in the evolution of computer-generated imagery.
Scott studied film and sociology at Indiana University and is currently the video producer for a large publishing company. He is the director of several independent films, including "House of Hope," "Off the Beaten Path," "The Day Joe Left," and "Found." For more about Scott, visit www.scottschirmer.com. Scott is also one of the principal organizers of the Dark Carnival Film Festival. (www.darkcarnivalfilmfest.com)