Reasons Why The Last Starfighter Is Better Than Star Wars

I’m going to shock and offend a full 60% of the Internet, but I’ll say it loudly: The Last Starfighter is better than Star Wars.


In the interest of full disclosure, The Last Starfighter might have some additional resonance for me, since I was a precocious teenager living in a trailer park with a little brother with an extensive Playboy collection when I first saw it on videocassette. So now you know where I’m coming from.

Both stories follow a similar arc: a boy is called from a backwater to go into space, show off his skill at martial arts, and then save the worlds from an evil menace. However, the main character in The Last Starfighter comes from the common man and works with a highly democratic society on Rylos, whereas in Star Wars, the main characters (Luke and Leia) come from high birth and one even bears the title “Princess.”

Let’s just stack up the characters:

The Hero

Alex Rogan is a kid from the trailer park who loves his mother, dreams of going to far away places (the university, mainly). Rogan has useful skills as a handyman and electrician–too much so as he has to forego partying with his friends because someone needs a 30-year-old fuse box patched.

Luke Skywalker is special from birth because he’s the product of a lineage with lots of mito-pseudoscience-deusexmachinians in his blood. Sure, he’s a decent droid cleaner, but he’s a whiny little snit who would rather run off with his friends than tend to his duties.
The Love Interest

Mags, played by Mary Catherine Stewart. Her affection for Alex is constant, and she’s ready to leave the trailer park for the stars with him at the end. Also, she’s cuter than Carrie Fisher and has aged better.

Princess Leia, portrayed by Carrie Fisher, is a high maintenance princess who is an action hero, but vacillates among the available men.
The Mentor

Centauri, a universe-wise wily operator who invents a game, merchandises it, gets it into the stores before Christmas, and is unafraid to recruit Starfighters from planets not officially in the Star League. He’s doing it for the greater good, but it never hurts to be rich, my boy. Capitalism working for the betterment of all.

Obi Wan Kenobi, a Jedi whose last project turned out pretty poorly after his Padawan slaughtered and scattered the Jedi, including the younglings. Instead of working for his own profit, he serves some hokey, nebulous religious order and spouts off recursive and reflective “wisdom” like the Sphynx from Mystery Men (the latter is supposed to spoof Obi Wan, but come on, in retrospect it’s pretty straight up homage, ainna?)
The Alien Sidekick

Grigg, the lizard. He’s a good navigator, he can bypass electrical circuits to use power from the life support systems to start the engines in the nick of time, and he’s got a sense of humor. Oh, yeah, and everyone can understand him.

Chewbacca. He’s a good navigator, he can make ship repairs, but only Han Solo can understand him. He’s big and can handle a bowcaster, so those are positives. But he was in The Star Wars Christmas Special.

Now, then, what do we have? A democratic society with capitalist principles leading to personal growth, public gain, and whatnot versus a theocracy or at the very least some sort of aristocracy posited as the highest goal–although the Empire is somehow worse than a system relying on the Jedi to maintain order.

Also, in the 25th anniversary edition, they cleaned up and crisped up some special effects in The Last Starfighter, but left the movie intact. I don’t think Star Wars has gone a whole decade without George Lucas doing something to it to tamper with it, to throw in a Wall of Sight aesthetic into it, and to extract money from the dwindling number of die hard fans.

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