Film Greats: John Badham’s ‘WarGames’ (1983)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Mar 26, 2002.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    The commercial and critical success of WarGames was undeniable. It was one of the few thrillers that received wide critical acclaim from such publications as Newsweek, The Rolling Stone and The Hollywood Reporter. Roger Ebert called it, “An amazingly entertaining thriller. A masterpiece!” It even received a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival when it was shown as the festival’s final closing film.
    WarGames tells the story of David Lightman, a high school kid who, while in search of a more challenging video game, accidentally taps into the military’s computer system at the North American Defense Command (NORAD). While playing a simulated game, he almost starts a global thermonuclear war.
    The film was directed by John Badham who was also responsible for such films as Saturday Night Fever, Blue Thunder and Point Of No Return. It was based on a screenplay by Lawrence Lasker and Walter Parkes (Sneakers and Awakenings).
    WarGames is all the more chilling because in June 1980, an incident similar to the one portrayed in the film, actually occurred when the United States went on a full-scale nuclear alert believing that the Russians had launched a surprise missile attack, when in fact, it was only a computer malfunction.
    When the film premiered in 1983, it was way ahead of its time. The film was borne at the height of the video game revolution, the very early stages of personal computing, the continuing Cold War with Russia, and the excitement and push to make all things revolutionary and technology driven. Is it just a coincidence that the film also was set in Seattle before we even heard of the names, Bill Gates and Microsoft?
    Those who want to nit-pick the film may find faults in the film’s finer details but none, in my point of view, would be considered unforgivable given its time and place. After recently revisiting the film, it does work as an effective thriller with some fine acting by Matthew Broderick and John Wood. The film remains highly influential and is one of the first films to introduce the computer hacker genre.
    WarGames was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Sound and Best Achievement in Cinematography.
    - - -
    Film Greats – A continuing quick look at motion pictures that, in one way or another, have been called “great films” by some. Other Films In This Series: Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend : Jim Sheridan’s My Left Foot : Federico Fellini’s Nights Of Cabiria
    ~Edwin
     
  2. Matt Pasant

    Matt Pasant Second Unit

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    Certainly a favorite of mine and a film ripe for a full blown special edition DVD. I believe WarGames was a bigger hit than Ferris Buller's Day Off.
    Certainly it has dated a little bit, but the tension and drama about the perils of nuclear war have quite an impact still today.
    Good acting by all the players, especially the burned out Dr. Falken, make this movie a special treat.
    Funny to watch for cameos from Michael Madsen and John Spencer both back early in their careers.
    And of course how could anyone forget Malvin, the curious computer guy.
     
  3. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  4. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Screenwriter

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    Man I never realized that was Michael Madsen in the beginning. "Turn your key sir."

    I loved that movie when I was younger and I still like it today, just not with as much gusto. My grandmother and I saw that movie like 4 times at the theater in one week! Alley Sheedy was a real cutie back then too.

    Wasn't "War Games" the first hacker movie?

    "Mr. Potatoe head! Mr. Potatoe Head! Remember when you told me to tell you when you start acting rudely and insensitive? Well your doing it right now." Or something like that.
     
  5. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    I was really surprised to see how well this film has held up. I'd write some new comments, but why bother when I can quote myself. [​IMG]
     
  6. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    I haven't seen WarGames in quite some time, but I'm with you guys. I agree that this a movie that's earned all its praise and popularity.
    Not only is WarGames a damn entertaining movie, but it's really fun to see Broderick and Sheedy so damn young! [​IMG]
    ...plus you can get the DVD for like 11 bucks! [​IMG]
     
  7. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  8. Tino

    Tino Executive Producer
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    I loved this film when I saw it back in '83, just a few months after John Badhams other hit that year, Blue Thunder.
    I think I saw most of it recently on Encore or something and also thought how well it has held up.
    I was going to pick up the DVD for $8.99 but I heard the transfer wasn't that great. Perhaps an SE is on the way.
    Strange how Matthew Broderick looks the same today as he did then, isn't it?[​IMG]
     
  9. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    There are 2 films that capture the tension America's youth was feeling regarding the Cold War in the 80's - War Games and Red Dawn. Red Dawn is a much weaker film than WG, but in many ways was very solid in identifying the uneasiness we all felt at the time.
    It's a tribute to the MASSIVE change that the ending of the Cold War/detruction of the Wall that these 2 films seem so dated now in ideology because at the time they both seemed like not just possible scenarios but EVENTUAL scenarios.
    Plus War Games certainly portrayed the blossoming concept of hacking fairly well at the time and certainly predicted an on-slaught of such films and actual events.
    Add Threads, The Day After, and Miracle Mile to this list of WW3 fear films. It's undeniable that the Cold War tension played a huge part in the psyche of society at the time.
     
  10. Butch C

    Butch C Second Unit

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    I still love the record album sized floppy disks and the contraption of a modem...

    BTW W.H.O.P.P.E.R.'s entire computing power is probably weaker than my Palm
     
  11. Matt Pasant

    Matt Pasant Second Unit

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  12. BrettB

    BrettB Producer

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  13. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  14. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Unless it has been mentioned before, I never knew the original director of Wargames, was Martin Brest. Some of his shots are still in the movie.
    Continuity: The reservations for two airplane tickets to Paris are under Jennifer's name, but at NORAD McKittrick tells David he's got reservations to Paris and demands to know who he's working with.
    Continuity: David still has two lives left when his game of Galaga is "over."
    Continuity: The gum swaps between the hands of the woman that McKittrick gives it to.
    Continuity: The General yells "Send out the F-16s," but stock footage shows F-15s taking off.
    Continuity: The code to launch the missles is "CPE1704TKS" when displayed on the big screen, but it is "CPE1704JKS" when printed above the manual launch control.
    Factual errors: When receiving and sending text from his home computer, the modem RD and SD lights do not flash. On a 300-1200 baud modem, the flashes would be very visible.
    Continuity: After the computer plays itself in Tic-Tac-Toe, it simulates the U.S. First Strike first and the U.S.S.R. First Strike second. But when it lists the scenarios a few seconds later the U.S.S.R. First Strike is posted first.
     
  15. Brook K

    Brook K Lead Actor

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    Haven't seen it in several years, but I wouldn't doubt that I've seen this movie more than any other. I use to never miss this or Last Starfighter when it showed up on TV.
     
  16. Jeremiah

    Jeremiah Screenwriter

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    Continuity: David still has two lives left when his game of Galaga is "over."

    John, I never understood that, how can the game say over when he still had lives left?
     
  17. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    Nice review Mark. I particularly like this part:

     
  18. StephenA

    StephenA Screenwriter

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    I got the DVD for this the other day. I liked the movie when I saw it as a kid, but I've never seen it fully due always catching it after it started on television.

    Well I watched it again last night all the way through for the first time, and liked it alot more than I did as a kid. Of course I understood it better too, knowing more about computers now. I know alot of it is far fetched and nonsesical too.

    I don't always look for reality in a movie. Something like this movie I watch for fun and entertainment. Something like Citizen Kane, Glory, Bridge on the River Kwai, and Lawrence of Arabia, all of which I also own, is where I look for reality, and stuff that make sense.
     
  19. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  20. Ron-P

    Ron-P Producer

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    Nope. I'm a closet War Games fan. Just don't tell anyone...OK.
    Peace Out~[​IMG]
     

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