This was a thought I had over the extended Thanksgiving weekend.
Two “classic” sci-fi movies that have yet to be touched by modern day Hollywood. The Last Starfighter and Flight of the Navigator. I use quotes around the word classic because I think they are only “classic” in the sense that they were made in the mid-1980s. In fact, until I mentioned them, did you even remember their names?
Let me ask another question – were you even aware of their existence?
How about some movie poster art? You know…to jog the memory…
A quick synopsis of both movies for the uninitiated (taken from memory, not from IMDb – so you know it’s shaky at best):
The Last Starfighter is about a trailer park maintenance man (Alex) who spends his evenings ignoring his girlfriend in hopes of achieving high score on an arcade game – Starfighter. When he finally achieves the highest of the high scores, he is visited by an alien that looks like The Music Man (He’s a what? He’s a what? He’s an a-li-en). Centauri recruits Alex to join the intergalactic war raging between the Starfighters and the bad guys (I looked this one up – it’s the Ko-Dan Armada). The base is destroyed, leaving Alex and an alien named Grig, who serves as navigator and mentor. Hence, Alex is THE LAST STARFIGHTER.
Meanwhile, while Alex is in space, fake robot Alex is on Earth in his place. But fake robot Alex is a poor man’s Alex. He almost ruins things with Maggie the girlfriend. However, fake robot Alex does take a bullet, an assassination attempt.
Long story short – Alex succeeds in fending off the Armada, returning home safely to a confused Maggie and family. They leave to return to the Starfighter Corps (why not) and the galaxy is saved.
Flight of the Navigator starts in 1978. I don’t remember every detail, but here we go nonetheless. David is playing with his little brother. David falls down a hillside and hits his head. Here’s where it gets fuzzy. I almost think that David wakes up in 1986, and while the world around him has aged and progressed, he is still a kid. And his younger brother is, essentially, now older than he is. He is taken to some government (NASA, I believe) facility, because there was some connection to a spaceship.
Like I said, some parts are fuzzy.
David gets some help from future Hollywood A-lister (in her best performance ever) Sarah Jessica Parker and escapes captivity in the spaceship version of Evil T-1000.
He and the ship (we’ll call it Mack, because that’s its name – and also voiced by Pee Wee Herman) escape authorities and travel back in time to when he fell down the hill and disappeared. Either that, or David wakes up only to realize he had the weirdest #*$@%& dream of all time.
Here’s where I’m at with these two movies. Flight of the Navigator is a Disney movie, and therefore COULD be remade. Let’s just all admit that we’re marks for what Disney is doing and move on. The animated stuff is solid (both standalone Disney Animation and the coop with Pixar). And maybe you were unaware that Disney owns Marvel and Star Wars. T+So they have that going for them. Disney is doing well. They don’t need to try to resurrect largely-forgotten titles from thirty years ago.
That’s why I say that The Last Starfighter should be remade. It has a decent story (I didn’t really do it justice). Plus, and I think this is the biggest reason – those special effects.
I mean, there’s charming and then there’s painful. Give a modern director, and more importantly a modern visual effects team, an opportunity to tell the tale with the cutting edge technology they have at their fingertips.
Hollywood has remade a slew of movies that didn’t need to be remade (looking at you, glaringly, Red Dawn). Let them have some fun with a flick that deserves a remake.
If you want to submit a topic for my next #ToughCallTuesday, just leave it in the comments or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And remember that the Comics for Beginners II episode is being recorded in January. Submit your questions (same as above) and win a prize! Seriously. It’s that simple!