War Games

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Christopher Bligh

Plot: What’s it about?

One of this viewer’s early big screen experiences occured in 1983 when video games were at an enormous height and arcades were packed to the rafters with kids and their quarters. It was during this time that a film that warned about global thermonuclear war was becoming a big hit and managing to increase the amount of homes with a personal computer and pondered the question, is this a game or is this real? It is WarGames.

When humans are not enough to turn the keys in the eyes of the inevitable, the goverment looks to replace them with machines that can do the job for them without a conscience in the way. Meanwhile, student David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) seems to have a pipeline with phones and computers to change his grades and go after things that other students can’t. In this case, he hears about a new video game company but what he doesn’t know is that with games like warfare and global thermonuclear war, it’s linked into the governments computer system and they want some answers as to how a young kid got to them so simply even when his tracking down links to a former worker (John Wood) believed to be dead.

This is truly a film of the eighties but not a bad one by any stretch. Beyond the parents who are portrayed as very inferior to their child, this film shows how covers can be found very easily through the line of a phone and tapped into through the keyboard of a computer if only tracked down by a smaller human who doesn’t realize the mess he’s gotten himself into. Through it all, it’s done in the name of fun and it sure brought the audience to know the word and the numbers of DEFCON.

So far, this viewer hasn’t heard a voice like Joshua before or since but this voice is one of the driving things behind this film. It seems like anywhere David goes, when there’s a computer Joshua is not too far behind in words and in voice. It’s enough that within the last quarter of this film with our main characters and the base with all activity, anything is possible and the result is a well done eighties film that does use some brains for the younger generation and foresees that younger people would be able to use a computer better than some of the older generation. Keep your eye out for some character actors that would go on to bigger things later on along with the ones that you know the face but can’t quite place the name.

WarGames delivers the goods and every once in a while, it might help to play a nice game of chess.

Video: How does it look?

MGM gives the non-anamorphic 1.85:1 treatment with a decent picture but not a great one through the first 15 minutes of the film. During the title sequence with some of the exterior shots there is some grain present when showing the helicopter landing. Luckily, this is not present throughout the rest of the film. It’s after those few minutes that the picture quality gets better and less of the grain is evident as well as in the darker scenes. It would be nice if MGM did put this through the anamorphic treatment someday to give the audience something worthwhile picture wise.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 5.1 does utilize the Oscar nominated sound very well especially with the effects in the NORAD building with all that’s seen on the screen and the little blips and the changing of the defcon number along with the aformentioned Joshua voice. Many of the effects and score can be heard throughout the outer channels while the dialogue is heard throughout most of the center channels. This disc also has a French Mono track along with English, Spanish and French subtitles.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Along with the films theatrical trailer (which came to me like a memory that was only yesterday) the disc has an easter egg within the main menu where the tic tac toe is playing along with a commentary track by director John Badham and writers Walter Parkes and Laurence Lasker. Their comments leave very few gaps and as always Badham has his share of informative comments as well as a few laughs while all three delve into what they originally intended to do with the script in its original form right down to an interesting bit of casting for the part of Falken. Nevertheless it’s a most entertaining listen and worthwhile for any film or WarGames fan.

Overall, WarGames is a product of the eighties but that doesn’t take away the fun element or the ability to entertain as it does have a story that still grabs ya where certain films of today can’t and it gives a nice small extra touch with a trailer that set this viewer back some years and a wonderful commentary track and a worthy addition to any DVD collection.

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