I have reached the final post of my trip down movie-memory lane, of my endeavor to share all these fabulous tales with you.
Don’t cry. It’ll be okay.
Again, a movie I watched so many times, I lost count, heck I never started counting.
The Last Starfighter directed by Nick Castle and released in 1984.
Meet Alex Rogan. He dreams of going to college to escape life in a nowhere trailer park where he lives with his mom and little brother Louis.
And his girlfriend Maggie lives with her Granny in the same park.
When Alex’s mom announces that he didn’t get the money he needs to go to school, he is upset. He’ll be stuck going to the local community college and trapped in he trailer park, forever jumping when anyone needs anything fixed or moved.
Maggie wants to know what’s so bad about staying there. Alex wants more. So he goes to his usual place to cool off… escape. Up at the park’s office is a video game.
One Alex plays pretty well.
Okay. REALLY WELL.
He breaks the high score!
And the trailer park crowd goes wild! Seriously, this is the highlight of their week.
But this is no mere video game. A stranger appears in a very unique car and takes a confused Alex for a ride to explain why he’s there.
Centauri. Quite a smooth talker.
The Starfighter game is a test. And Alex has passed. The game’s story is true. The Frontier must be defended against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada. If it falls to the enemy, even Earth will be in danger.
As they drive, the car turns into a spaceship. Welcome to Rylos and the Starfighter Base.
So Alex can train to join the Starfighters to defend the galaxy. He gets a helmet and uniform all the while suffering from shock.
Don’t worry about his family and friends… an android named Beta is posing as him, having transformed to look and sound just like Alex.
Alex joins the group and takes a seat among all sorts of aliens.
And listens to the briefing. The Rylan Star League is at war with Ko-Dan armada, who have the means to get past the Frontier, an array of satellites creating a protective force field. The only option is to attack. The Gunstars are being readied for the fight.
However, the presentation is interrupted by a holographic message from Xur, the enemy’s evil leader.
Who threatens them all. Join him, stand down… or die. I know. A bit cliché.
Well, Alex has had it. He stomps out of the meeting, looking for Centauri, who he is certain will take him home. He’s no warrior. In his search he meets Grig a navigator.
And they find Centauri, who is flabbergasted that Alex doesn’t want to be a Starfighter! And Grig is appalled that poor Alex had not been given a choice. Centauri reluctantly takes Alex home, muttering the whole way about the boy who doesn’t want to be a Starfighter, even though the boy had scored higher than anyone!
Centauri leaves Alex on Earth with a communications device just in case he changes his mind.
Going home, he finds someone who looks just like him in his bed. Beta rubs his eyes and asks why Alex is back. Because… war. Hello. And Beta is slightly relieved… he has not had such a great time dealing with humans, especially Maggie.
They use the device to contact Centauri to take Beta home, but there is a problem. Xur is making plans with Lord Kril. They want ALL Starfighters dead.
The enemy knows about Alex and sends an assassin a Zando-Zan… who really looks like this…
Yeah, cool, isn’t he? Centauri shows up just in time and kills the Zando-Zan, but gets injured in the fight.
Xur has destroyed the Starfighter base and will continue to try to kill Alex, to ensure no one will be able to stop him. Alex is the last Starfighter and the only chance for saving the universe.
But what about his family and friends? No worry, much to Beta’s delight, he will be there to keep the bad guys occupied and the humans safe.
So Alex rides back with Centauri, who dies soon after they land.
Luckily, Grig is still there, alive because he was in a separate part of the base checking on a prototype Gunstar, the last one.
Alex’s training begins.
And Beta has his own problems.
Louis is getting suspicious. And Maggie is confused and upset. When Maggie and Beta come across a Zando-Zan spaceship, which is relaying info to Xur. He convinces Maggie that he isn’t Alex, which involves showing a bit of inner circuitry, and together they plan on taking out the aliens. To save Alex.
They steal Maggie’s friend’s truck and head towards the ship. Maggie jumps to safety as Beta drives the truck into the base, destroying it and himself.
Leaving Maggie hoping Alex is okay.
And he’s not. He’s freaking out. But Grig is positive, they can do it.
With no time to lose, Alex and Grig attack the Ko-Dan armada. Flying and firing, Alex does okay, until the weapons are depleted. The enemy ships approach. So this is the end, right?
No! This is a prototype Gunstar with an untested weapon, Death Blossom. When all the enemy fighters are in range Alex hits the button…
And kerplowie! No more enemy ships.
Slightly upset, Lord Kril orders Xur executed, but the slippery little devil escapes. Their guidance system, hit in battle, fails, sending them crashing into Rylos’ moon.
Alex returns to what is left of the Starfighter base to applause. And Centauri, who wasn’t dead just in a healing stasis.
They need Alex to stay, to help them rebuild. And he wants to! Here’s his chance to be something more than a trailer park fix-it man, but… Maggie. She had been worried about him going away to college, scared that he’d never come back. He always told her he’d return.
So he does.
To a shocked group, who listens to his tale as they stare at the spaceship and his alien friend.
He pulls Maggie aside. Begging her to come with him. They could have a life together. He has to return, for he has found where he belongs, what he is meant to do. But she’s scared. Leave home? Her Granny? Leave everything she knows?
No. She can’t go.
Disappointed, he accepts her answer, tells his mom and Louis good-bye, and heads back to the ship.
But Maggie isn’t happy, watching him ride the platform up to the ship. Finally her Granny tells her to go, to live her life and be happy… and maybe call or whatever they do up there every once in a while.
She runs at the ship, calling and waving.
She has to go, her place is with him.
And together they fly up into the stars.
And Louis races to start playing the Starfighter game.
Is the story all that? No. It’s simple. Everyone knows what’s going to happen.
So why watch it over and over again? The effects were pretty darn cool… for the time. But more than that… it’s about growing up, finding a place in the universe by stepping away from what is comfortable, from what is easy. We must keep our mind open to all the possibilities and be prepared to just say yes when opportunities arrive.
And this ends my movie round-up.
And I have been reminded of The Flight of the Navigator and Enemy Mine. I did love those, but didn’t watch them a bajillion times. And there is always TRON!
What is it about stories? They speak to us. They teach us. They take up a part of our brains forever, shaping who we are. Maybe this is why I tell stories. Maybe.
What movies spoke to you as a kid? Or even now? Which ones do you watch over and over again?