Make a cover that's mostly black space.
"The only winning move is not to play."

That's also good advice if you feel yourself being drawn into an argument on the internet! Hello friends and welcome to a slightly late edition of the Tagline, I wanted to give Tron some time in the spotlight by its lonesome, and it looks like everyone got their money's worth. Now that time is over though, and it's time for us to move exactly one year ahead, to 1983, where a computer program was deciding not to try and take control of mankind, but rather to just blow it straight to hell. Today's feature film is WarGames, a film that I think is more or less forgotten along with things like the Cold War and Matthew Broderick. In this film Broderick starred in one of his first major roles as David Lightman, a generally delinquent high school student who prefers to spend his time hacking computer systems, only not in the really dumb way that Hackers did. One day while idling his time away by dialing every number in his town with his modem, he finds a computer that won't identify itself, and decides to investigate further. David eventually finds a way to access this computer, but doesn't realize that this machine is the supercomputer at NORAD that controls the nuclear missile silos of the US, and is continually running launch scenarios, and learning from these simulations. David engages the computer in a rousing, friendly game of "Thermonuclear War" which I think we can all agree is a really fun game to play on a sunny afternoon when you have nothing else to do. David chooses Russia as his side, proving that Matthew Broderick is a communist, and does not realize that in doing so starts the computer with its metaphorical finger on the metaphorical red button down a path that leads to mutually assured destruction. Oops.

Are all those lights fireworks? Oh they're nuclear bombs. 
It isn't long before David's activity is discovered, but the commander at NORAD doesn't believe that a computer is planning to blow up the world. Jokes on them though, and then everyone when World War III starts, but David along with his sort of awkwardly inserted romantic interest Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy, pre-Breakfast Club) is determined to stop the program, enlisting the help of its despondent and nihilistic creator Stephen Falken. Along the way, there's lying, sneaking, and a lot of shots that firmly establish that Jennifer is dumb as a sack of hammers, but very athletic. Like she is just exercising whenever she's not actively engaged in trying to prevent a nuclear war. I know this is the 80s but... her character is terrifically non-existent. Still, at least she doesn't just like... stay at home while the menfolk save the world, I guess I can take consolation in that. One of the things we can note here is that Matthew Broderick is supposed to be playing a high schooler, and looks like he's about 15 I'd say. In fact, when this movie was filmed he was TWENTY, and I find that really amusing for some reason. He also sounds exactly the same as he does in any other movie you've seen with him in it. It's sort of strange. Besides seeing a very young Matthew Broderick try not to blow up the world, why else should you take the time to check out WarGames though?

Don't you remember how those shut-in nerds always had track
stars hanging around them and their computers?
Well as much as I might like to rag on poor Matt (and I mean can you REALLY BLAME ME) WarGames is actually a really original and well written film, with an interesting but understated sci-fi premise, and a good lesson about how not to end the world in a thermonuclear holocaust. Rather than a movie about an evil computer program or robot that was plotting to destroy the world, this movie is about an artificial intelligence created by man, that has learned from us a behavior that is self-destructive. It is not the machine's fault, it's had really crappy role models, and so has not learned that in the game of rock paper h-bomb, the winning move is to be playing a different game. Also as I mentioned earlier, this movie doesn't tart up the process of hacking computers. David is seen typing into a command prompt. It doesn't look like he's surfing through cyberworld or whatever idiotic thing they did in Hackers. There is no butter zone, and we can all be really grateful for that I think. The dialogue in this movie is also very seamless, and it sounds very natural, which... helps to keep you on the hook throughout the movie. With the hole "computers are waiting for a chance to kill us" shtick still in very common circulation, it's occasionally nice to watch a movie where its mostly just us trying to kill ourselves. Even then this movie offers a more hopeful outlook.

How ABOUT a nice game of Chess?
Critics for a change actually agreed, and this movie was very well received, both by them and by moviegoers in general. Given its modest 12 million budget, WarGames gross of 79 million domestic was very strong and even watching it today it was a movie that compared favorably (one of the benefits of eschewing fancy effects is that when the movie is old it isn't full of outdated effects and called Star Wars Episode I). This is definitely a movie worth watching, especially if you are aching for those good old Cold War days... which I guess you could be I don't know. That's it for today! Join me again next week, when I will dip my hand into the toxic sea of reader suggestions once again!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Project Wonderful Ad