“The Last Starfighter” may finally get the follow-up sci-fi fans have been waiting decades for.
Screenwriter Gary Whitta shared on Twitch on Thursday afternoon the latest details regarding the long-awaited sequel to the vastly underrated 1984 sci-fi adventure and said, “We’re very, very close. We’re basically on the one yard line and I believe it will happen.”
He also shared a “sizzle reel” — which is like a rough trailer or a concept presentation — that he and screenwriter Jonathan Betuel — who wrote the original movie had put together with the aid of artwork from Matt Allsopp — who worked on “Rogue One” and music from Chris Tilton and Craig Safan — who composed the score for the original movie.
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The Last Starfighter Blu-ray. $23 at Amazon.
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The original movie starred Lance Guest as Alex Rogan — a down-on-his-luck teenager, struggling to make something of his life — and Dan O’Herlihy as Grig — his lizard-like alien mentor. Stuck in a trailer park, life wasn’t exactly throwing opportunities at Alex and his only form of escapism was a video arcade game called “The Last Starfighter” that he poured every available quarter into. As such, he became pretty good at it and finally achieved the record high score by actually completing the game.
However, what Alex didn’t know is that the arcade game was in fact serving as a recruitment tool to find potential pilots to defend the frontier, far away in space, against the evil Xur and his Ko-Dan armada. Since Alex demonstrated a natural ability to fly a Gunstar starfighter in the game, a signal is transmitted from the arcade machine to the Star League and an alien representative, Centauri (Robert Preston) is sent to fetch him.
What follows is an amazing adventure as Alex is whisked light years away to a distant region of space, where he must battle overwhelming odds, together with his own doubts, as the very fate of the galaxy hangs in the balance.
The movie was among the first to utilize cutting edge computer graphics and as such, the VFX looks a little dated by today’s phenomenal standards. However, the potential was still huge, but sadly never fully realized. While popular at the cinema, “The Last Starfighter” wasn’t the “Star Wars”-level blockbuster its producers were expecting, which naturally was the new benchmark. Even the accompanying video game that was being produced by Atari — an obvious marketing move given the story of the movie — never made it to fruition.
From the concept art — and even the title, “The Last Starfighters” — plural, it looks like the former flyers must unite with younger Starfighters to once again combat cosmic evil and save the galaxy. And given Whitta’s style of storytelling, combined with the more slightly more dramatic interpretation of the original score, we could be in for a thrilling and dramatic science fiction adventure.
Aside from the occasional whisper on the galactic grapevine, not much has been heard about his project for some time. Whitta explained in the Twitch stream that the rights issue over “The Last Starfighter” was a bit of a legal mess and that’s what has held up the project. Betuel (thankfully) owns some of the IP of the original movie and despite massive interest from Hollywood over the years, he wouldn’t give his permission to make another “Starfighter” movie as he wasn’t happy with the projects being offered — they were all straight-to-video or incredibly cheesy. Whitta explains that Betuel insisted it was done right, as a big movie that kept the original in canon and that could draw a whole generation into the adventures of the characters first seen nearly 40 years ago.
“The idea was to pass the torch to a new generation of heroes in the same way that ‘The Force Awakens’ does,” Whitta says. We called it a ‘requeal’ — it’s a sequel, but it also kind of reboots and brings the franchise up to date.”
Sadly Whitta didn’t give any timeframe as to when we might expect this long-overdue sequel, but fingers crossed the social media attention this announcement will generate might make the right people in Hollywood realize the potential franchise — not to mention the gaming possibilities — they could have on their hands. After all, a similar approach worked for “Deadpool” and “The Justice League.”
Who knows, perhaps one day it might even work with “Buckaroo Banzai.”
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