This was an instant teen classic. Far more than a movie about romance, lust or "parents who just don't understand" .... this was a great flick and it still is.
Matthew Broderick introduced the masses to the world of hacking, phreaking and global thermo nuclear war.
The average person at that time had never heard of a phone phreak, but we see the lead character get free calls on a payphone and stealing software via his 300 baud modem before anyone knew there was software worth stealing.
Not only are his parents affluent enough to supply him with a computer, he gets discarded computer hardware from friends at a local university to make the super-duper hacking machine that ends up getting him in big big trouble.
While a lot of this story is pretty improbable, some of the plot was dead on for the time. There were no minature computers and cameras and while the government had satelites, they couldn't count your eyelashes from the stratosphere like they can today.
Nuclear war with the Soviet Union was a real threat when this movie came out... all of my friends talked about it and posters with mushroom clouds were all over our school. Sting came out with the song "Russians" and we all peed in our pants when the show "The Day After" aired on prime time TV.
It was a scary time and this movie masterfully played on the fear of nuclear threats and the real likelihood (and nowadays a reality) of having formerly human-manned stations automated by computers.
Lots of excitement, great background music and lots of 80s nostalgia abound in this film. If you're in your late 20s to early 40s and you haven't seen this film, it's your duty to get it!
I wish the DVD had more features, such as out-takes and interviews with the stars and perhaps others (like folks at NASA or other famous computer geeks) who may have been influenced by this film. The DVD platform isn't taken advantage like it should be, especially w/ a film of this genre. Nonetheless, it's a better format than VHS and definitely watchable over and over again.
on September 6, 2000
Watching this movie again brings back some great nostalgic feelings -- back in these days computers were *special*, something amazing and almost magical. Being a software professional, I often yearn for those times again, where we weren't something as boring as "IT professionals" but "wizards". Reading an old copy of BYTE from 1980 or watching WarGames helps :)
I won't praise the movie further, but I want to highlight the commentary audio track: the director, John Badham and the two writers, Lawrence Lasker and Walter Parkes comment every scene in the movie. It's really great stuff, not the usual junk you might hear actors say about their own role in the movie (that seldom sounds convincing) but lots of technical details about how the movie was made (for example, the initial blizzard scene was apparently created with the help of helicopters) to exactly what sort of computer equipment was used (a TRS-80) and why. The commentators are having lots of fun and manage to share a lot of trivia (for example, W.O.P.R. was considered named PSIOP(sp)).
on February 3, 2010
This is a review of the 25th Anniversary Edition.
This DVD was made from a full screen version where the left and right sides were cropped. From that image, they cropped the top and the bottom to produce this so-called widescreen version. The image you see when watching this DVD consists of a small rectangle cut from the center of the original movie. If you could find a full screen version, you would see more of the original movie than if you watch this so-called widescreen version.
The package says "widescreen". In the past, the term widescreen meant that you see the entire original image. More and more, when a DVD package says widescreen, that means they cropped the top and the bottom so the image will fit a modern TV. Whereas in the past, widescreen meant you see more than with full screen, now it means you see less.
Why all the positive reviews here for this horrible product? Please, we can find movie reviews on imdb. Here on Amazon, we need critiques of the DVD. If everyone here would give mutilated movies the lowest rating, maybe the DVD makers would get the message and stop mutilating the movies we like. At least it would warn people against buying them.
on July 19, 2004
When this movie was released it was very up to date with the technology it featured. In this day of laptop computers and Internet access to mobile phones it certainly looks dated but put that aside and you are still left with a really good movie with a plot idea that still works today.
The story revolves around an underachieving, bored teenager (played by a very young Matthew Broderick) whose main interest in life is his computer. From his bedroom he can alter his school grades, reserve flights, and download software, all by hacking into other computers. While searching for new games from a software company he comes across a set of titles he assumes are games and decides, with his girlfriend, to play Global Thermonuclear War. Unfortunately it isn't a software company he has hacked into but a military system and he is playing against NORAD's computer. When the realisation hits that the NORAD computer, when it's turn comes round, will launch atomic missiles for real, the race is on the stop the game.
This is still a gripping film that can well pump up the tension even after several viewings. Recommended
on November 8, 2012
This review is for the blu-ray transfer only and not the film itself. While the blu-ray version of War Games is slightly more detailed than the upconverted DVD, it has a significant amount of film grain. When I compared the two, there is not much of a difference. If you already own the 25th anniversary edition DVD, I would not recommend upgrading to blu-ray.
This is, simply put, one of the movies that touched off the 80s -- and, I think, ignited public awareness of the slacker/hacker/geek subculture. This is just one of those common-denominator movies.
David is a teenaged geek -- undersocialized, twitchy, and smart-mouthed -- with more than his share of electronics skills. When he breaks into the wrong computer, persuading NORAD that a Soviet attack is imminent (and the Soviets that the Americans are gearing up for something), the government goes after him while the computer merrily deliberately freaks out the Russians to stoke WWIII. David has to figure out a way to get the computer to stop the game. It is a charming movie, filled with little moments that bring smiles and knowing grins (like David's interaction with schoolmate Jennifer, and his meeting with fellow computer wonks). It is rather slow in getting started, and some of the characterizations ring false (Falken is a total fruitbat; his dinosaur fetish is just a little contrived-sounding). There are also some plot holes that most computer geeks will recognize quickly. But overall, a fun movie, worth re-watching.
I should mention that the DVD does not include a lot of extras, and the one I got had a bizarre quirk -- the audio commentary was set to "on" by default. The only way to fix it is to set the language to "English" every time the DVD loads, which turns off the commentary automatically (I imagine it would toggle back on easily if you wanted it).
on March 26, 2016
I've seen this before, of course, but I was drawn to it once again thanks to the NPR Fresh Air broadcast of March 22, 2016, "From Reagan’s Cyber Plan To Apple Vs. FBI: ‘Everything Is Up For Grabs’ featuring Fred Kaplan, author of Dark Territory,[who] "told Fresh Air a crazy story about how cyber defense was created, in part, because President Reagan saw War Games, a 1983 movie about a teenager who unwittingly hacks into the main computer of the North American Aerospace Defense Command and almost triggers World War III." Hacking was entertaining when this movie came out, but now we know we can target nuclear centrifuges, Russia starts its 'little green men" offensives with cyber attacks, and as we watch the Big Boards at the end of this movie now, we don't smile so much when we imagine being in the control rooms watching our electrical grid collapse with unbreachable lockouts from coast to coast simultaneously with a complete loss of ATC communications nationwide, all launched without a single bullet being fired, just keystrokes by a Unit 121 infrastructure disruption group in North Korea. The US Cyber Command can draw its lineage back to the President's viewing of this movie, just as President Reagan's powerful emotional response to "The Day After" affected him at the 1986 summit with Gorbachev.
on June 28, 2014
Having grown up with home computers in the 1980's (first had a Vic-20, then an Atari 400) I loved this movie and still do. The hacking aspect, dialing up computers using an Acoustic Coupler / Modem, was very accurate for the time (not that you'd be connecting to an intelligent supercomputer, even now) and so was the "simulated" speech synthesis, which became feasible on home computers in later years.
The Blu-ray video quality is great and it does actually have some nice extras, with a quite recent 45 minute documentary (possibly HD, but at least widescreen) with interviews from the two leads and Barry Corbin (the straight talking general). The commentary is very entertaining too and the director and co. actually go into details on how the film was made, unlike some movies I could mention.
I think it's safe to say that "WarGames" is the movie that defines many of those who came of age in the early '80s. I was about 10 when I saw the film in the theater. Although I didn't come to own a computer until several years later, certainly the idea came to me through "WarGames". Other movies I saw as a child defined a lot of my later interests -- "The Muppet Movie", "Star Wars", and "Superman" -- but this was the first film I could relate to on a real-life level.
Watching the DVD was the first time I'd seen "WarGames" in about a decade. The movie still holds together quite well, especially when you realize that's Michael Madsen right there in the first scene. It takes a short while to get to Matthew Broderick, but he owns the movie once he shows up -- until John Wood arrives as Professor Falken in the final reel and makes things even more interesting. The progression from suburban Seattle to the brink of World War III is done without the slightest hint of dramatic overkill (until perhaps the computers explode in a shower of sparks), and even the love story is charming. Ally Sheedy was so good in her small role that you sort of wish her career had fared better.
The DVD edition is a bit dated by 2002 standards -- the only special feature is the commentary track, by director Badham and the two screenwriters. I enjoyed this, as it pays special attention to the construction of the script and shows just why the movie holds together so well. It may seem obvious when Badham points out which lines are the jokes, but you can learn a lot about dramatic structure just by listening to these guys. ...
Oddly, the DVD case lists "trivia and production features" among the special features, but these aren't actually anywhere on the disc. There is an accompanying 8-page "collectible" booklet, but power up the 200-watt bulb and grab the magnifying glass before you try to read it. There is a brief easter egg accessible through the main menu, but I'm not quite sure why it's there.
The trivia booklet also describes Dabney Coleman's later TV series "Drexel's Class" as successful. What was the writer thinking?
on August 13, 2008
As many of us remember seeing this fun movie first run in a theatre, we all chuckle a bit at the 8" floppy discs, monochrome monitor, BASIC programming, the top load VCR, cradle modem and so on.
But aside from the fantasies needed to tell a story, WarGames hits the mark on all points. As the movie was filmed during the Reagan years, the Soviets really were nervous about SAC and the entire American nuclear TRIAD. The scene in the missile silo at the beginning is so real life that the Titan II Missile Museum folks in Green Vally, AZ use a tape recording of the movie launch sequence to explain a launch episode. (If ever near Tucson on vacation, try to visit the museum. All the missile silos but this one were destroyed due to S.A.L.T. The concrete cover is set permanently half open for Russian satellite observation.)
Being said, this 25th Anniversary Edition is worthy of an upgrade to your collection. Most importantly is anamorphicly enhanced for 16x9 viewing. The extras are great, getting to hear from several principle actors and film crew.
Shop around a bit and you can find this DVD for <$10. I'm sure Amazon will follow suit as they usually are fairly competitive in price. ENJOY!
The above reviewer is correct. The DVD is NOT enhanced for 16x9 viewing. Unbelievable! They fooled me! The studio was deceiving as the DVD lacks enhancement for 16x9. It looks absolutely miserable on an HD TV...
Definately needs a Blu-ray release...