Nick Castle’s science fiction adventure film is one of my all time favorite “Star Wars” rip offs. It’s a film that fully embraces the hero’s journey trope and has a damn good time with it, bringing in robot clones, big headed aliens, and a pretty great mythology begging for a franchise. “The Last Starfighter” thankfully hasn’t lost any of its luster even in the midst of the glut of “Star Wars” wannabes, and it’s still a big personal favorite of mine.
Max, a teen with dreams of becoming a video game creator, unleashes a world of evil upon his small town after getting a box of games out of the blue. This thrusts him into the hero role that he is not quite ready to play, but desperately needs to learn from.
After spending many years on sub-par DVD releases and in basic limbo for a new release, “The Wizard” is given a much overdue Collector’s Edition that treats the cult classic the way it deserves. Is it a glorified Nintendo commercial? Sure! Is it a glorified ad for Universal Studios? Definitely! Is it fun? Oh god yes. “The Wizard” is a movie that might appeal to you more if you have nostalgia attached, granted, but on its own it’s a solid kids adventure film that’s also ahead of its time in the way it digs in to the video game tournaments and how much mental and physical prowess they demand.
With 2019 seeing the release of the animated reboot of “The Addams Family,” I thought it’d be fun to check out the line of Addams Family video games that came to consoles over the years. I’ve always been an Addams Family fan, preferring the darkly demented family over the more whimsical Munsters. Hopefully the animated movie can be the start of a brand new franchise like “Hotel Transylvania.” Until then, these are the Addams Family games from the absolute best to the utter worst.
What’s your favorite?
In 1989, Nintendo was beginning to take over the world, and had done so right out of the wake of the video game crash of the eighties. With arcades fading, Nintendo was one of the strongest competitors for home gaming consoles, and in 1989 they were juggernauts of pop culture. Back in that era, just about everything was TMNT, The Simpsons, and Nintendo, and the latter had taken the minds and hearts of gamers and tech geeks everywhere that loved a good challenging platformer or run and gunner. In 1989, Nintendo finally branched out in to the wider arena of pop culture by basically helping to fuel a kids’ movie that would become a cult classic.
I didn’t discover “The Last Starfighter” until I was thirteen years old. It was 1996, and I was looking for any and all movies that peaked my interest, and “The Last Starfighter” seemed like a good time to me. For some reason “The Last Starfighter” managed to skate right by me when I was a kid, and I watched every movie. I watched everything from “Willow” and “Legend” right down to “Warriors of Virtue,” but I never actually knew there was such a thing as “The Last Starfighter.”
Director James Yukich’s “Double Dragon” is a nineties anomaly that’s right up there with “Super Mario Bros: The Movie,” and “Street Fighter: The Movie.” It’s so deliriously awful and willingly misses the point of the source material it adapts, and yet it’s delightfully entertaining. As an artifact of the decade, it’s a fun tribute to everything 1990’s (Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf!), as a video game movie it’s a fascinating example of what not to do, and as an action movie it’s a serviceable amalgam of martial arts, comedy, science fiction, post apocalyptic fantasy, and chop socky schlock. If you can divorce yourself from the video game, “Double Dragon” works as a fascinating but entertaining botched cash in on a video game series that was so much better.
Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of “Ready Player One” is a fantastic, mind blowing amalgam of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Tron,” and “The Matrix” all rolled in to one multicolored strobe of pop culture. You’d think with the rapid fire barrage of pop culture nods and winks to video games, anime, and television series that “Ready Player One” would lose sight of its narrative. In the end, though, Spielberg keeps a firm grip on the novel by Ernest Cline, never once losing sight of what made the original novel such a must read in 2011.