The Last Starfighter


Like most other kids in the 80s, my brother and I were big gamers, rocking out our original Atari and NES gaming systems, and going to the arcade every chance we got. (He was much better than me, I can remember one trip to the arcade where we’d each gone in with two dollars and I blew mine in the first fifteen minutes and after wandering around for an hour I checked on him and he was still on his first fifty cents.)


Rated PG

Dir. Nick Castle                        Universal Pictures

Lance Guest, Mary Catherine Stewart, Robert Preston, Dan O’Herlihy

Blurb – A teenager breaks the high record on a video game and discovers that the video game was in fact a training module to test those with the skills to become Starfighters and defend a faraway planet from destruction.

Opening Thoughts

Like most other kids in the 80s, my brother and I were big gamers, rocking out our original Atari and NES gaming systems, and going to the arcade every chance we got. (He was much better than me, I can remember one trip to the arcade where we’d each gone in with two dollars and I blew mine in the first fifteen minutes and after wandering around for an hour I checked on him and he was still on his first fifty cents.) When I FINALLY beat the NES Legend of Zelda game, both quests, I felt like I could rule the world, I was so proud of myself. (This was five years ago, BTW) So, the idea that these terrific video games that captured our imaginations (and spare change) could be REAL was an enticing one. This movie was one of our favorites growing up.


         Alex Rogan is an ordinary teenager who lives in a trailer park with his mother and younger brother. By day he serves as the de facto janitor and repairman for the tenants of the park, and by night he hones his skills on the Starfighter video game. Eventually he breaks the high score and beats the game. Alex’s ambitions of going away to college with his girlfriend Maggie and making something of his life are dashed when his bank loan is rejected. A short time later, he receives a strange visit from a gentleman named Centauri, claiming to be the inventor of Starfighter, and that he has won a “prize”. Alex gets into the Centauri’s car and is whisked away into outer space, where he learns that the “game” he had been playing for so many months was actually a test, used to recruit “gifted” warriors to defend the actual planet Rylos from its enemies.

            Alex, shaken by this real, life-and-death situation, rejects the “honor” of being selected as a Starfighter. He has Centauri bring him home, where a robotic Beta unit resembling Alex has taken his place. While there, the Starfighter base on Rylos is attacked, and all the Starfighters are killed. Back on earth, an alien assassin targets Alex and his Beta unit, and after Centauri fights him off, Alex returns to Rylos where Centauri dies from his wounds. 

            Back on earth, the Beta unit sacrifices himself to keep Alex’s return a secret, much to the dismay of Maggie, who didn’t realize that Alex is off-planet. Alex is paired with Grig, a reptilian navigator, and, with the help of a prototype weapon called Death Blossom, they cripple the Ko-Dan armada before it reaches Rylos. The villainous Xur escapes, and the Rylan Ambassador pleads with Alex to stay. Alex decides to stay on Rylos and help rebuild the Starfighter legion, but on one condition—he returns home to get Maggie and bring her back with him. 


  • One of the first things you find out about Alex, aside from his love of video games, is that he is honorable. He has plans to spend time out with his friends, which he obviously doesn’t seem to get a chance to do much, and be with his girlfriend, Maggie, whom he loves dearly. But when his mother asks for his help, even though he desperately wants to get away, he stays. He could’ve said no, but he has the heart of a servant which is, to be honest, sometimes a giant pain. There have been so many times when I just didn’t want to do something that someone was asking me to do, or I’m just tired, or I have my own stuff to do. But I think it’s important to remember that we don’t know the difference an act of service can make in a person’s life. Serving can be a gift, not just to others, but to ourselves.

  • Oh my gosh, is Otis not the BEST?? I love Otis and how encouraging he is! Otis even rallies the entire trailer park to cheer Alex on as he wins a video game! This is a terrific example of how being a part of a local church and/or small group is not only important, it’s essential! The Church (large “C”) is a support system specifically designed for us by Christ so that we can be a part of each other’s lives, intertwined, in this crazy thing called life. Granted, not all churches look like this, and that’s too bad, because churches first began so that Christians could come together as the body of Christ, working, worshiping, serving each other, praying-together. You are meant to be there for each other in prayer, in encouragement, in support, during times of pain, need, and grief as well as praise. 

  • The “game” that Alex spent hours conquering is finally revealed as not merely a game but a test of his abilities, and that the enemies he spent hours fighting replicas of are real. Like, really real. Like Alex discovers, our Earth is already involved in a war we know nothing about. Take a moment and think about your favorite book, movie, story, and the inevitable enemy involved. Now imagine that that enemy is real. Imagine you found out that Emperor Palpatine, Voldemort, or Sauron were real? How would that make you feel? Frightened? Excited? Dumbfounded? Like I mentioned in my previous Terminator post, we were all born into a world at war, and we have an enemy that will come against us every day of our lives. That’s why it’s also important to realize that like Alex, we have been equipped to fight that enemy in our own special way, because all of us, every one, has been gifted by God with a talent all our own to use in driving back the darkness.

  • Alex has dreamed his whole life of getting away from the trailer park, but early in the movie it looks as though any chance of leaving and having his own life has been taken away from him. Otis even encourages him earlier that he would get his chance, but when it comes, he has to “grab on with both hands and hold on tight”. Yet, when Alex’s big opportunity to be a Starfighter comes along (an opportunity which he never imagined!) he runs away, and tells himself that he can’t do it, because he’s just “a kid from a trailer park”. I love how Centauri calls him on it, saying “If that’s what you think, then that’s all you’ll ever be.” What are you telling yourself that is holding you back from grabbing your dream with both hands and pursuing it?

  • I love how God can redeem even our fear and mistakes! Alex left the base for Earth because he was afraid, but if he had stayed, he would have perished along with all the other Starfighters. God redeems Alex’s fear to save his life, and in turn, the lives of all Rylans! It’s like in the Biblical story of Joseph, and how his brothers, in their jealousy, sold him to slavers. What his brothers did to destroy him, God used to save them when Joseph became second in command to Pharaoh during a drought. What Alex did acting out of fear, God used to save him and Rylos. God can redeem our mistakes, so if you feel like a failure, don’t let it weigh you down. Get up and keep going. God has not and will not give up on you.

  • You are able! Whatever the enemy is telling you to try to hold you back, it’s a straight up lie. You are a hero, a warrior of the risen Christ, and no matter what your life looks like, that is your identity and cannot be altered! If you think you can’t overcome whatever obstacle the enemy has put in your path, remember that Alex destroyed a whole armada of enemy ships when it looked like he had zero chance to even survive. He saved the galaxy with only one ship, some heavy-duty artillery, and his skills learned on the Starfighter video game. God’s given you things to use as well, gifts, talents, and abilities. How are you using them? Maybe you’re in a place where you feel you don’t have anything great as an ability, or that the ones you have can’t be used right now for whatever reason. I encourage you to pray and ask God how you and your talents can be used. I was all, “How am I supposed to use my obsession with movies for God? This blog is the result! I encourage you to ask and let Him surprise and excite you!


Like Gideon in the wine press, Alex was a warrior though he didn’t know it. Centauri saw what he could do and recognized him as having the gift to be a Starfighter immediately, knew what he was capable of and where he was needed. God sees us in the same way. Even if we just see ourselves as “kids from a trailer park”, God sees us as the warriors we already are, and wants to use us in areas of desperate need to carry out His plans for the world. “Greetings, hero. You have been recruited by the Lord God to defend the defenseless against Satan and all of his unholy minions! Ready?”

Drop a comment below and tell us what your favorite video games were/are and why? If you could save the world, which video game would you choose to do it? What are your special talents or gifts and how can you use them to further God’s Kingdom?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *