Monday, 18 August 2008

No.29 : WarGames

IMDb Link :

A youthful Matthew Broderick stars in this 1986 film, that sees a teenage hacker nearly kick start world war 3. When this was made the Cold War was at its height and the scenario depicted wasn’t as far fetched then as it may seem now.

The story follows teenage computer wiz, David, who accidentally breaks into a government computer when seeking some secret video games from a nearby company. After starting a game called ‘Thermonuclear War’ he forgets about it until the news reports a NORAD security breach. Things deteriorate fast when the computer insists on playing the game for real, mistaking David for its presumed dead creator. The Feds are soon on the scene taking David into custody, while the clock counts ever closer to doomsday.

The usual array of stuffed shirts try to address matters but of course only our man can help avert disaster with the help of his limber school chum Jennifer (Ally Sheedy) and the reclusive master programmer, whose demise has been somewhat exaggerated.

I hadn’t seen WarGames since a cinema trip more than 20 years ago, and I was surprised to see how well it stood up. A lot of it has stayed in my memory and I could even remember the password to the school’s computer (pencil) - more brain cells unnecessarily filled! Obviously the technology is a bit dated, as our man impresses his girl friend with his big floppy, but apart from that the story still seems quite plausible with the techno babble kept to a minimum. The pace is maintained throughout using a classic ticking clock approach and although the pay off is a bit preachy, it’s still a ride worth taking.

The cast is excellent apart from the red neck General who must have found his rank in a cereal box and Dr Falken whose whole range appears to be looking enigmatic. I especially liked nerdy Malvin who managed to be both rude and insensitive to order and the lovely Ally who despite playing a school girl was 21 when this was made, so it’s OK to ogle her yoga outfit!

Some of the tech was a bit ropey, such as hot wiring a call box with a ring pull, but overall it was one of the few childhood favourites that has held up to further scrutiny.

The film has spawned a straight to DVD sequel ‘The Dead code’ and we may have a look at that later if nothing else more promising shows up.

Best Bit : The visit to the Nerds‘ lair - ”You’re doing it now”

‘W’ Score 19/23

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