The annual summer movie season officially got underway over the weekend, with the premiere of Disney’s latest reboot, that of its 19819 animated movie, The Little Mermaid. Just the latest in Disney’s now never-ending stream of live action/CG reboots – not the long ago it was also announced that Moana is going to get a reboot along with pretty much every vintage Disney flick – it is just one of the movies that will make up this year’s all-too-familiar slate of summer movie fare, which will feature more superheroes, sequels, another biopic and something truly stupid in the form of Barbie. There is one potentially promising offering in the form of Focus Features’ independent release, Asteroid City.
This slate of same old-same old is important to note because odds are those movies could be the last new theatrical releases for a while unless the Writers Guild of America’s ongoing strike ends sometime in the near future. As a matter of fact, it was announced over the weekend that production on Marvel’s Thunderbolts movie has come to a screeching halt thanks to the strike, which passed the one-month mark over the weekend. With the general lack of much real worthwhile theatrical (and even televised) content on the way this summer (save for the noted indie flick and the upcoming superhero flicks – including the new Transformers sequel and maybe the upcoming Indiana Jones sequel), audiences have plenty of reason to be concerned about ways to escape the workaday world.
Arrow Video will at least partially address viewers’ concerns Tuesday when it re-issues Universal/Lorimar’s 1984 science fiction flick, The Last Starfighter, on 4K UHD. The re-issue (which ironically was itself a summer release, having made its theatrical debut in July 1984) will come more than two years after Arrow Video re-issued the same movie on separate, standalone DVD and Blu-ray platforms. The only reason one can imagine Arrow Video would re-issue the movie on 4K now is that maybe 4K tech was not as widespread in 2021 as it is now. It definitely is a head scratcher. Regardless, the forthcoming re-issue is a mixed bag that will find its largest appeal among a very targeted audience that does not already own the movie in its previous re-issues from Arrow Video. That is due primarily to the fact that it is presented exactly as it was in the noted DVD and Blu-ray re-issues, right down to the bonus content, which will be discussed shortly. The video resolution in the new 4K UHD print is its own positive and will be discussed a little later. The forthcoming re-issue’s average price point rounds out its most important elements, considering the collective content. It will also be addressed later. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this latest re-issue of The Last Starfighter. All things considered they make the re-issue a presentation that will appeal to the noted very targeted audiences.
Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD re-issue of Universal/Lorimar’s 1984 sci-fi flick, The Last Starfighter, is an intriguing presentation from the independent British distributor. It is a presentation that will appeal primarily to audiences who do not already own the movie in its previous DVD and BD re-issues, which were released in late 2020 by Arrow Video. That is due in large part to its bonus content. Audiences get in this new 4K UHD re-issue, all of the same bonus content that was featured in the previous re-issues. From the standard “Making Of” featurette, to the separate feature-length audio commentaries, to the interviews and more, all of the bonus content from those previous re-issues has been carried over to this re-issue. That means that audiences who already own either the DVD or Blu-ray re-issue will not be missing out if they do not buy the new 4K UHD re-issue. One of the most notable bonuses is the interview with the composer of the movie’s musical score, Craig Safan. Safan notes early in his interview, scoring the movie was not easy, pointing out that early on as he and the musicians who recorded the movie’s music, they had no footage to reference for cues. That was because he was enlisted to score the movie while it was in production, so they only had dots on a screen to reference as they wrote and performed the music. That could not have been easy, but the result was and still is so enjoyable today. Safan also makes direct reference to movie music legend John Williams, openly noting he took Williams’ work into account as he composed the movie’s main theme. That is interesting to note because the movie’s main theme really does have that similarity to Williams’ bombastic compositions in its sound and style. The full discussion will be left for viewers to discover for themselves. On another equally interesting note, Safan also makes note of legendary composer Jean Sibelius as an influence in his style in composing the movie’s score. That reference serves well to show the depth of Safan’s musical knowledge. In turn it makes him and his work all the more respectable.
Screenwriter Jonathan Betuel, who wrote the story for The Last Starfighter gets his own bonus feature, here, and it is another notable extra. That is because of the insight he offers in his interview. Right from the outset of his interview, Betuel reveals that he wrote the movie’s script while he was working a blue-collar job, driving cabs. That is important to note because Alex, the movie’s main character, was himself an average blue-collar-type figure who was going nowhere in life until he is recruited to become a Starfighter pilot. In the decades since the movie’s debut, it has gone on to become just as great (at least as a cult movie) as Alex even though it has not had the blockbuster legacy of other sci-fi flicks. As a matter of fact, it sounds like a long-awaited sequel may finally be in the works. It sounds like when and if a sequel happens, it will be one of the rare sequels out there actually worth watching. Another intriguing revelation that Betuel makes during his interview is that his intent was to make the movie an Arthurian tale. In hindsight, that influence is definitely there, however, the fact that Betuel was able to write the story in fashion that kept it from being a total rip-off makes for so much more appreciation.
On a related note, Betuel reveals that he wrote the movie’s script in only four days. Considering that it doesn’t just come across as another of so many rip-offs of the Arthurian legend in having been written in such a short time adds even more to the appreciation. Add in that for the most part the story progresses fluidly and that its pacing is relatively stable, the result of four days’ work is even more impressive. There is maybe only one hole in the story. It comes as Maggie accuses Alex’s double of being a sexual deviant of sorts without a prior scene for context. Other than that moment, the story does well to keep viewers engaged and entertained.
Speaking of keeping people engaged and entertained, viewers were not the only ones so influenced. Catherine Mary Stuart, who played the part of Maggie, admits during her bonus interview, that the story largely kept her engaged and entertained, too. She openly states that was a credit to Betuel and his work. She also tackles her working relationship with fellow lead star Lance Guest during the movie’s production. She has only positive things to say of working with him (and with director Nick Castle). Her recollections of her time working on the movie add their own touch of enjoyment of and appreciation for the movie. When her interview and the others noted here are considered along with all of the movie’s other bonus features, the whole of the bonus content makes for plenty of enjoyment. However, it should be reiterated here that all of the same bonus content featured in this re-issue of The Last Starfighter is also in the movie’s previous re-issues on DVD and Blu-ray from Arrow Video. That means audiences who have the movie’s previous re-issues from Arrow Video would be largely wasting their money to buy the same content all over again. That is the case even for those who own the movie but who perhaps own 4K TVs with Blu-ray players.
Audiences who own 4K TVs will get about the same resolution in the upscale of the movie as those who watch the movie on a 4K TV with the new 4K re-issue. The CG special effects are crystal clear throughout the movie. It is clear the starfighters are fully CG, as are the vehicles of the evil alien invaders, the Kodan Empire. The clarity of the footage in the new 4K scan makes the CG look as impressive as that which would be used nearly two decades later in another underrated sci-fi presentation, the modern classic sci-fi series, Babylon 5. That show’s CG was another early example of the direction special effects were taking at the time and was impressive considering the era and available technology. Keeping that in mind, the only comparable CG special effects presented around the time The Last Starfighter debuted were in Tron, which was released only two years prior by Disney. Obviously, the special effects budget was not there for The Last Starfighter, but were obviously still worthy of applause by comparison, and this new 4K scan makes that clearer. It is one more aspect that shows why audiences who do not already own The Last Starfighter will want to own the movie in its new 4K UHD re-issue.
Without question, the content featured in the new 4K UHD pressing of The Last Starfighter offers audiences who do not already own the movie’s previous re-issues reason to buy this re-issue. Keeping that in mind the movie’s pricing proves relatively positive in its own right, too. Using listings through Target, Best Buy, Amazon, and Walmart, the movie’s average price in its new 4K UHD platform is $34.99. Interestingly enough, each retailer also lists the movie’s 4K re-issue at the same price. Comparatively speaking, $34.99 is about the average price that so many 4K UHD movies from other studios are being priced at through the same retailers. That means that the movie’s average and separate price listings are right in line with those of most other 4K UHD releases. In other words, viewers who buy the movie will not feel like they are paying an arm and a leg for the movie in comparison to what they will and do pay for other 4K UHD movies. When this element is considered along with the overall primary and secondary content featured in the movie, the whole makes the latest re-issue of The Last Starfighter a welcome addition for any fan of the movie who does not already own the movie in its previous re-issues but have upgraded to 4K TV and player.
Arrow Video’s forthcoming 4K UHD re-issue of Universal/Lorimar’s 1984 movie, The Last Starfighter, is a presentation that while fully engaging and entertaining, should only be considered by fans of the movie who do not already own the movie in its previous DVD and Blu-ray re-issues (which were released in 2020 through Arrow Video, too) and who have upgraded to a 4K TV and player. That is due in large part to its featured bonus content. All of the bonus content featured in this latest re-issue is also featured in the noted DVD and BD re-issues, so those audiences will not be missing out on anything on that note. The picture resolution is quite impressive, but the thing is that anyone who watches the movie on Blu-ray through a 4K TV, those viewers will get the same resolution through the upscale that happens in the process. The pricing of the new 4K UHD re-issue is positive in that it is right in line with the price of most 4K UHD movies being released today. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the new 4K UHD re-issue of The Last Starfighter. All things considered they make the re-issue successful, but only for the noted specific audiences.
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