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War Games

Is it a game, or is it real? 

Year: 1983 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 (70mm) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  
Review:

When a US Air Force captain fails to complete a missile launch order procedure in a top secret missile command, officials at NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defence Command) are keen to find out why, given that the man had no prior knowledge that it was a test. They reach the conclusion that some of the men are not up to the task of turning the key to launch a missile attack, and that computers should take over the role - once the President has made the decision to attack. To this end, the War Operation Planned Response (WOPR) machine is recommended to the President as the solution to the problem of faltering humans. WOPR only thinks about World War III, continually playing a series of war games by using all the available information on the state of the world, and so, should be able to execute the command.

David Lightman (Broderick) is an under-achiever at school, but he is a computer genius, using his home computer and skills to change his exam grades and those of his friend Jennifer Mack (Sheedy). When he sees an advert for Protovision online games, he starts trying to hack into the company's computers. He stumbles across an unidentified system, and believing it to be Protovision, he starts to play a simulated game called 'Global Thermonuclear War'. Unbeknownst to him, WOPR starts to act out a response to an attack from Russia. Fortunately the military manage to stop WOPR before it can actually launch any missiles, but they trace the 'fault' back to the hacker. David is brought in for questioning, but WOPR still continues its countdown to the endgame - full nuclear war...

Whilst we are now surrounded by computers and the internet, and inundated with big-budget CGI-fests like the Terminator and The Matrix trilogies and the latest Hollywood offering, I, Robot, WarGames promoted the theme that machines are a threat to mankind over twenty years ago. The casting was perfect for the teen-market of the time, with Broderick and Sheedy generating a wholesome brand of on-screen chemistry. But the real star of the show is the wonderful 80's technology such as 5¼-inch floppy discs, monochrome monitors, handset dial- ups, voice simulators and a Galaga coin-op machine. It's a wonderful blast from the past - don't miss this opportunity to walk down nostalgia lane!

Alex Coe

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Screenings of this film:

1983/1984 Summer Term (35mm)
1983/1984 Summer Term (35mm)
1983/1984 Summer Term (35mm)
1983/1984 Summer Term (35mm)
2004/2005 Autumn Term (70mm)