DVD Review: WarGames: 25th Anniversary edition

MGM Home Entertainment

Release Date: July 29th, 2008
MSRP: $14.98
Director: John Badham

Stars: Matthew Broderick, Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy, Barry Corbin
Once upon a time, Apple IIE computers littered the American landscape. Kids of the early 80s were the first to have computers, and most parents had little clue about how to use them. It was simply a thing that kids spent time playing with.

Then, after the release of WarGames, many parents started to wonder whether or not their child was hacking into government files and heading down the path of espionage and ruin.

Matthew Broderick staras as David, a bright, but underachieving kid. His lack of motivation at school, along with his quick wit, often gets him meetings with the principal.

But he is fascinated with computers and that is where his mind really shines. While looking for a game company online, he stumbles across a military system that features war simulations. At first, he does not realize it is a military system, and plays “Global Thermo nuclear war.” He playing triggers the U.S. defense system to show a pending attack by the Soviets.

By the time he figures out what is happening, he has been picked up by the Feds, suspected of being an agent for the Russians.

David not only has to convince the military that the Russians are not attacking, but also get the computer to stop it’s planned response (the launching of dozens of missles).

Broderick does an excellent job here, offering up a certain level of mischieviousness yet not comintg across as a smart-ass. We see some of the magic that was made famous in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

WarGames is a bit of a techno-thriller, yet has an extraordinary amount of humanity. And it is that humanity that makes this a fine film.
We are treated to a commentary track featuring the director and writers. After all these years, it is fun to listen to their thoughts on the making of the film. Fans of commentary tracks will find it worthwhile. It is, I believe, the only carryover from the previous DVD release.

Loading WarGames runs about 45 minutes and has new interviews with the direct, writers and stars Broderick, Ally Sheedy, and Barry Corbin, as well as other crew members and film critics. This is a very enjoyable piece that goes into depth, giving us a look at some things that did not make the final cut as well as how the project changed over time. This piece goes beyond that of the normal fluff pieces that fill DVDs and gives real bang for the buck. I wish more featurettes were like this.
Attack of the Hackers (13 minutes) talks about how the film portrays hackers and features comments from security experts, former hackers and various industry experts. Nothing earth shattering, but it is a refreshing change of pace to hear from folks outside of the film.
Also included are a piece on Norad and a humorous clip on Tic Tac Toe, a game that plays a major role in the film.
While certainly dated, WarGames is still a very enjoyable film.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.