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Back when it was released in 1983, WARGAMES ($25) was a movie that was way ahead of its time. This story of a teenage hacker breaking into the US government’s defense computer system and starting a simulation that could bring about the nuclear annihilation of every person on the planet seems more relevant today with our new "plugged in" computer addicted internet generation. Matthew Broderick stars as high school student David Lightman. David has a penchant for computers and computer games which lands him in hot water when he breaks into the defense network, while attempting to find a new computer game company. David discovers a listing of games on the system he has hacked into and decides to play a game global thermonuclear war.

David soon discovers that it wasn’t a computer game company that he called and hopes no one will discover his little mistake. However, the computer calls David back thinking he is its creator since he used the creator’s secret backdoor entrance to access the system. For hacking into the defense network, David is apprehended by federal agents who take him to NORAD for questioning. While at NORAD, David discovers the computer system is still running the simulation and intends to launch the US nuclear arsenal against the Soviet Union when the "game" reaches its conclusion. It then becomes a race against time for David who must escape the authorities and find the computer system’s true creator, the only man who can shut the game down before the clock runs out. In addition to Matthew Broderick’s knockout performance WARGAMES superior cast also features Dabney Coleman, John Wood, Ally Sheedy and Barry Corbin.

MGM Home Entertainment offers WARGAMES on DVD in a wide screen presentation that restores the film’s 1.85:1 theatrical framing. The Letterboxed transfer used here is a few years old and does not contain the anamorphic enhancement for wide screen televisions. Since the transfer is a bit older, it doesn’t eke the last bits of color and detail from the film elements that a newer transfer would have been able to achieve. For the most part WARGAMES looks very good, but there are some limitations in the film elements that cause the image at times to appear a bit drained of color and a bit grainy. MPEG-2 compression artifacts were seldom obtrusive.

WARGAMES has been re-mixed into a Dolby Digital 5.1 channel track for this release. The re-mix sounds pretty good for a film from the early eighties, but it is somewhat limited by the original recordings. Other soundtrack options include a matrixed Dolby Surround compatible track and a French language track. There is also a full length audio commentary featuring director John Badham and writers Lawrence Lasker and Walter F. Parkes. Fans will find the commentary enjoyable and quite accessible. The DVD includes English, French and Spanish subtitles.

The animated interactive menus are fairly cool and feature access to a theatrical trailer, scene and language selection, plus the commentary




DVD reviews are Copyright 1998 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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