In the 1980s video games were a huge deal. Before Hollywood figured out it could just adapt them straight to films, there were several attempts made at incorporating video games into the plots of films. Of this latter category, Nick Castle's The Last Starfighter stood head and shoulders above the pack for its cleverness. Alex, an ambitious but poor teenager, dreams of escaping the trailer park someday while obsessively playing the video game Starfighter. After he beats the game, he learns that it's actually a sophisticated alien test designed to find those beings with the reflexes and strategic thinking necessary to become a great star pilot. The next thing he knows, he's out in space piloting an actual starfighter against an alien invasion. Robert Preston makes his last cinematic appearance as Centauri, a smooth-talking alien who persuades Alex to get up there and be the best he can be. The Last Starfighter screens at 8 p.m. tonight at Schlafly Bottleworks (7260 Southwest Avenue, Maplewood; 314-968-7487 or www.webster.edu/filmseries). Admission is $5.
Wed., July 2, 8 p.m., 2014