Film scores

Soundtrack review: The last starfighter (Craig Safan – 1985, 2014)

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“The last starfighter” is a lovely movie about a boy who is spirited away to fight in the world of an Arcade game he was obsessed with. The story kind of reminds me of the one for “Tron” and indeed these two were the visionary Sci-fi movies of the early 80s. I have fond memories of Tron and its music. Craig Safan wrote the score for “The last starfighter” and Intrada records finally did the composition justice with a proper release this year. I enjoyed Craig Safan’s earlier re release of “Warning sign” immensely and I am anticipating a great one hear as well because it is a Sci-Fi orchestral electronic score and I am a huge fan of the genre.

The beginning of the score eases me into a beautiful and melodic atmosphere. The “Main title” is almost heroic and lets me know that there’s quite an adventure in store. I love this cue and I instantly connected with it. The brass fanfare acts as a gate keeper and welcomes me to this score. This is one of those bright and catchy themes that I just want to put in a snow globe and keep it on my desk all the time. When I hear a theme like this I know it’s for a fantasy or game world. I get that unmistakable sting of anticipation and excitement because I know I will enter a world different than reality, a colorful world where anything can happen and I can expect different characters and creatures and stories.

We are then introduced to our hero with “Alex dreams” and “Record breaker”. Hearing these themes I imagine Alex to be quite similar to me. I understand him, he must be a dreamer trapped in a reality full of constraints. His themes show a lot of heart. They are mostly symphonic pieces, bold and exciting. The brass still dominates and I almost feel like I am listening to a fantasy or Roman Empire epic. There’s something about this score that sends me back to compositions like “Ben Hur”, “Spartacus” or “Conan”. Every now and then the flute comes in to tame the powerful brass and those moments are very precious.

The electronics kick in when the world changes and Alex gets in contact with the characters from the game world. You can clearly hear the change in mood and tone. The themes for “Rylos” or “Zur” or “Krill” rely on synthesizer and somber sounding instruments like tuba or contrabassoon. Once these introductions are over our hero starts playing his part in “The last starfighter” world and we are in for a musical treat. His moments of practice, decisions or fight are all punctuated with fiery and melodic marches that make me very happy. I love the spirit of this score and the hope it breathes.

And how about “Big victory march”? It’s a reprise of the main theme in all its glory and it reminds me of the victories from the “Star Wars” movies. There’s a little inspiration from there I guess but it’s ok because if works. This is how triumph tastes like. The final cue “Into the starscape” is the cherry on top of a wonderful space poem that creates an unlikely hero and convinces me to believe in him and dream of the world he conquered. I will rush to see the movie now.

Cue rating: 90 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 43 / 64

Album excellence: 68%

Highlights:

01 Main Title

02 Alex Dreams

08 Victory Or Death

13 Centauri Dies

14 Target Practice

15 Alex’s First Test

16 Alex Decides

17 Beta’s Sacrifice

18 Good Luck Starfighter

19 Death Blossom, Ultimate Weapon

20 Big Victory March

21 Alex Returns

22 Into The Starscape

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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