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103 out of 115 people found the following review useful:

Ahead of it's time

10/10
Author: metalrox_2000 from United States
18 June 2005

Wargames was a movie that was way ahead of its time. No one was making films about hacking into computer systems. The only computers used in movies were on space ships. No home computer has ever really been brought to the big screen. Wargames broke from the normal studio sci fi norm of either Earth being visited by aliens (E.T) or battles of Good and Evil in space (Star Wars, Star Trek). With the raise in hacker crime rate now, and seeing how Dependant we've become on computers, Wargames was a movie with it the eye on the future. Imaginative story, great cast (who, despite other reviews, do not phone it in) Wargames is a true gem, as it was recently listed by AFI as one of the top 100 sci fi movies of all time. Broderick was perfect as a slacker teen, and Ally Sheedy turns in one of her best performance, making the most of an under developed character. Dabney Coleman showed why he was one of the busiest actors in the 1980's (though he always better cast as a villain), and Barry Corbin could play almost anything convincingly. while the special effects may be dated by todays standard, Wargames helped shape the way people think and speak. Backdoors, hacking, were not common terms like they are today. Without a doubt, much in agreement with AFI, Wargames remains one of the most important films ever made.

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62 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

Shall We Play A Game?

8/10
Author: Bill Slocum (bill.slocum@gmail.com) from Greenwich, CT United States
4 May 2004

Cyberthrillers may not have started with "WarGames," but it was here the form achieved an early peak. As more filmmakers follow its example of portraying a high-tech faceoff between man and machine, "WarGames" remains a standard to be measured against. While it's not a film classic, it's a very, very good popcorn thriller of uncommon craft, charm, and humanity.

Seattle high schooler David Lightman (Matthew Broderick) has only a few hours to undo what he thought was a sneak preview of an upcoming computer game but what instead got him tinkering with the U.S. Air Force's WOPR (War Operation Planned Response) computer system in such a way as to trigger a countdown to World War III. The FBI thinks he's a Soviet spy, while classmate Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy) is wondering if this isn't all really about a rejiggered biology grade.

Broderick is solid, and Sheedy even better, but what really sells this film is everything else. Start with the excellent supporting performances. John Wood as a reclusive professor and Barry Corbin as a tobacco-chewing general get much of the kudos, and rightly, but there's a whole deep bench of quality work beyond that, like Kent Williams as a curt White House advisor, William Bogert and Susan Davis as David's out-of-it parents, Alan Blumenfeld as the swaggering bully of a biology teacher, and Juanin Clay as a beautiful but underappreciated assistant (even by herself as she uses her own mouth as an ashcan for her boss's discarded gum.) You know the casting people behind this movie were on the ball when the opening sequence features two very recognizable faces, those of Michael Madsen and John Spencer, in what were film debuts for both.

That sequence with Madsen and Spencer as missile men point up another quality of "WarGames," the way the movie works in terms of setting up expectations and developing pace. The harrowing business between the two of them is mercilessly presented ("Turn your key, sir!") and then effectively abandoned so as to work in the central storyline, the replacement of these men with computers. We get a macro-view where Dabney Coleman as a tunnel-visioned warroom executive effectively makes the case for "taking the men out of the loop" and then zoom back into what seems a totally unrelated story, that of slacker teen David Lightman and his high school travails.

The film could have just started with Lightman, and worked its way out to the business with the WOPR. But the early peek behind the curtain is a clever way of raising the stakes with the audience before the protagonist realizes what's up.

The set design, cinematography, lighting, and editing all work wonders as well. The NORAD warroom is really a character onto itself, the ultimate source of reality in this film (and better for my money than the warroom in `Dr. Strangelove,' an obvious inspiration.) The way the cameras dart around from terminal to terminal as uniformed USAF technicians follow the progress of an apparent Soviet attack, lighting onto one of them just before he or she relays an important piece of information, is highly addictive and entertaining.

There's some sloppiness in the movie. Madsen and Spencer's talk about this great pot Spencer's character has scored strains credulity in the high-security setting they are in, and its blindingly obvious that the two men we see exiting a helicopter and entering a jeep during the credits are not the same two men getting out of the jeep moments later. The musical score is terrible, except for the elegiac tune at the end by which time it's too late. And there's no real examination of the morality of Lightman's serial lawbreaking.

But this is a funny, exciting, consciousness-raising movie that is as entertaining now with the Cold War more than a decade behind us as it was all those years ago. For all the technical innovation on display, it's ironically appropriate we remember it for showing us how to butter an ear of corn, because it's the human side of the equation `WarGames' keeps in its sights at all times.

[The DVD features a terrific, candid commentary from director John Badham and writers Lawrence Lasker and Walter Parkes that gives one a real appreciation for the value of creative license as well as factual diligence in making a film of this kind work.]

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39 out of 48 people found the following review useful:

Pleased with the film

8/10
Author: RebelMe from Liberec, Czech Republic
6 February 2006

If you want to see a film with the most real style of hacking, forget Swordfish, The Net and all these other films where "hackers" work in graphically superb programs and can hack government server in few seconds. Broderick, working in his text-only mode, using social-engineering and having good abilities handling primitive electric devices is nearest the real world's "hacking", at least in his period.

As thought that the film sometimes lacks tension, especially in the middle, it has its very strong moments. To be honest, I got most excited on the very beginning, I really loved it.

The performances are good, but I disliked and didn't believe the performance of the man, who should have played the wooden-head general. It seemed to be too overacted. He himself lowered my rating by one.

This film might not be so interesting for people, who aren't interested in computers, because, as I mentioned upper, the plot lacks some deeper crisis, but I thing that everyone else will like it, so if you match the upper criterion I can recommend you only one thing: Go and get it!

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42 out of 59 people found the following review useful:

Nuggets of Truth

10/10
Author: Angry_Arguer from Shermer, Illinois
9 July 2003

WarGames remains the definitive "hacker" movie, surpassing the raunch of Swordfish and the idio-parody of AntiTrust. Historically-speaking, there are two movies that have shaped public opinion about computers: 2001 and WarGames. With 2001, there is the question of "What happens when an automated computer system makes decisions on its own?" In today's world of automatic Windows updates and random error messages for no reason, it seems very prophetic. WarGames poses the question of "Who uses the computer and what do they do?" The consequences, as one can easily guess, are enormous. Even when hardware ages, the ethics remain.

WarGames isn't perfect. There are plenty of logic problems in the script, but it still presents its topic with a naive fascination. What the writers don't know, they pretend they do. Matthew Broederick is, once again, the nerdy teen with social problems (Ferris Bueller had a different problem, though). Aside from Glory, he won't be able to shake that image even now in his 40s.

I saw this movie when I was eight and had to admit that if someone didn't understand the 80s "Red paranoia", then the whole movie was a misfire. I will admit, it fascinated me with computers and military hardware, changing my life forever in a subtle fashion.

Overall, an interesting movie that becomes more real every year. In today's world of identity theft, cyber-terrorism, MicroSoft, and broadband, some elements are undoubtedly lost on someone who can't remember or understand the Cold War. 3.5 out of 5 stars

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36 out of 49 people found the following review useful:

A movie of its time, mandatory viewing for hackers

9/10
Author: pvollan from United States
31 January 2008

One important piece of reality in this movie is when David Lightman looks for the computer game company, and stumbles across WOPR, by using a program that automatically calls every number in an area looking for a carrier. Such a program was called, after this movie came out, a "Wargames dialer" or a "Wardialer". And today, as well as old fashioned wardialing, we have wardriving, warstrolling, warchalking... war everything else, because of this movie. And have you heard of the annual hacker convention, held in Las Vegas, called.... Defcon? There are, of course, factual problems with this movie, some of which one just accepts as necessary to the ploy. When David plugs the speech synthesizer into his computer, he explains that the computer isn't really speaking, just interpreting the text that's coming in. We can't have an entire movie just looking at a video screen, so we accept that. But then at the end, Joshua speaks the climactic lines of the movie in the same voice, which makes no sense at all. The way that Joshua could find one character at a time of the password never did wash. And the paper clip method could only make a local call.

The nuclear freeze movement was certainly quite strong in the '80s, more so than many today realize. I hope you understand what "freeze" means, because it's not the same as disarmament. It means: lets just stop throwing money down this black hole by stopping the nuclear arms race where it is. Who cares if they can reduce us fine powder and we can only reduce them to sand. Ronald Reagan outmaneuvered the freeze movement with all that SDI nonsense, which was just another excuse to waste money and extend the arms race into space. With Reagan, it's hard to tell, of course: maybe he really thought it was a "purely defensive" system, that could "make nuclear weapons obsolete". When the Soviet Union finally collapsed, there was talk of a "peace dividend", in which the obscene amount of money previously spent on the arms race could actually help people at home. There ain't too much talk about that now, with the "War on Terror", which is a war about as much as the War on Drugs or the War on Poverty, and just about as successful.

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21 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

An Old Favorite For Many

8/10
Author: Elswet from .: Fiendish Writings in the Dark :.
18 April 2007

This was an old favorite for many younger baby-boomers, who were teenagers and in their twenties at the dawn of the personal computer age.

This one was a bit more than amusing, though. It opened many eyes to both the potential and the dangers we faced while coming into the computer age. The government had these marvelous machines and the internet by which they communicated for decades before the public was given access from these ancient Commodore 64's, Amigas, and Atari home computers via phone line, back in the late 1970's.

While this work is entertaining, it also bears a valid warning, even today.

Broderick and Ally Sheedy both were 21, playing 17 year olds, competently.

It rates a 7.6/10 from...

the Fiend :.

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20 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

The Only Winning Move Is not to Play

8/10
Author: Claudio Carvalho from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
29 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In Seattle, the teenager David (Matthew Broderick) is a lazy but bright student that prefers to hack and change his grades in the high-school computer than study. One day, David's best friend Jennifer (Ally Sheedy) is with him and he decides to hack the toy company Protovision seeking new games and he accidentally connects the War Operation Plan Response system in a computer located at the North American Aerospace (NORAD) at Birmingham using the password Joshua that was the name of the son of its creator, the deceased scientist Stephen Falken (John Wood).

David challenges the computer to play a Global Thermonuclear War game between USA and the Soviet Union. Sooner he realizes that the computer is playing for real and the United States of America is changing its condition to DEFCON 1 in a game with no winners.

"Wargames" is one of my favorite films of the 80's and despite the Cold War, it is nostalgic to watch again a period with little violence in the world and how life was easier, flying in a plane is just as one good example that we can see in this film. Hollywood still was able to make good movies based on great original stories. Matthew Broderick was an amazing promising actor with "Ladyhawke" and "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and the hacker David is ahead of time. Ally Sheedy shows her charm, lovely smile and a great chemistry with Broderick.

"Wargame" has a witty and funny story with a magnificent message in times of Cold War that is highlighted in the very end: "The Only Winning Move (in a nuclear war) Is not to Play". Fortunately most of the Powers that Be of the world has finally understood this message with the end of the Cold War. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Jogos de Guerra" ("War Games")

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28 out of 39 people found the following review useful:

Interesting, original idea that delivers for the most part...

Author: MovieAddict2016 from UK
29 February 2004

I enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Matthew Broderick is the teenager computer nerd who hacks into a military database through a "back door" and starts to unintentionally play games--which are, quite surprisingly, not games after all. He's really controlling the military! With WWIII nearing, the movie takes some twists and turns and it's all good fun.

Broderick is well-cast and this is probably one of the roles, along with Ferris Bueller, that stereotyped him as a continual teenager--which makes it hard for him to get adult roles nowadays. (He's in the upcoming remake of "The Producers"--yay!)

Ally Sheedy and Dabney Coleman both have supporting roles.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and rate it a solid "4" of five stars.

Trivia note: Sheedy and Broderick both appeared in separate movies by John Hughes: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and "The Breakfast Club."

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21 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Wanna play Global Thermonuclear War ?

7/10
Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
4 March 2008

It was with much interest to me to revisit this early 80s hacker piece armed with the knowledge of just how the advent of change in the computer world had evolved. With that in mind the film could quite easily be classed as a bit clunky due to the now almost Neanderthal toys, games and computers used in the movie, but casting aside the nostalgia feelings I had with it, it still hits the spot as both a poignant piece of interest, and a dam good thriller as well.

Matthew Broderick is David Lightman, a young computer gamer geek who is something of a whizz kid on the PC. He can change his school grades and hack into various sites he shouldn't be even looking at. During one eventful sitting he hacks into a computer called Joshua and plays a game called Global Thermonuclear War, he harmlessly chooses to be The Soviet Union and proceeds to launch a nuclear attack on his own country, the U.S.A. Trouble is is that the game is for real and the wheels are in motion for World War III!.

It helps to remember the time this film was made {for those old enough of course}, for it was the time of the ever worrying cloud of the Cold War, a time when nuclear war was more than a hearsay threat. I really think that in this day and age where computers literally do run our lives, this film stands up really well not only as a warning piece about messing with technology, but also as a gentle poke in the ribs about defence systems and the people we trust to run them. Tho the film is a kind of watered down and accessible 2001: A Space Odyssey for the 80s set, it impacts well and only really suffers from a pointless romantic plot strand involving the sprightly Ally Sheedy (could they not just have been pals?) and the aforementioned dated gadgets. The ending to the film is excellent as the tension builds up nicely and we are left chewing our nails watching a game of Tic-Tac-Toe, sounds simple doesn't it? Not so.

Good honest and intelligent entertainment. 7.5/10.

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Let's play Global Thermonuclear War

7/10
Author: hall895 from New Jersey
2 July 2009

WarGames is a film which in some ways seems hopelessly dated and in other ways seems to have been way ahead of its time. There's the Cold War angle, the United States and the Soviet Union gearing up for the seemingly inevitable World War III and the nuclear holocaust that would go along with it. It's a 1980s storyline which doesn't play as well all these years later with the Soviet Union long having been consigned to the dustbin of history. Nowadays the threat comes not from one communist superpower but from...well, pretty much anywhere it seems. But then again this movie, made in 1983, is at its heart really about a computer hacker. Who, in 1983, even knew there was such a thing as a computer hacker? Ahead of its time this movie is.

While certain aspects of the story may seem less relevant today there is no denying that WarGames is an effective, entertaining thriller. There may be some flaws in the movie's logic now and again, not everything we see seems entirely plausible. But the movie works. The story centers around Seattle high school student David Lightman, who is not doing particularly well in school. But it's not because he isn't bright, he certainly is. He just seems unmotivated and perhaps distracted by his obsession with computers. That obsession plays itself out as he attempts to hack into a video game manufacturer's computer...and instead unknowingly hacks into a Defense Department computer. In playing the "games" on that computer he almost starts World War III. Whoops.

Matthew Broderick plays David and his performance is excellent as he portrays a young teen who finds himself caught up in a situation behind his imagination. Ally Sheedy plays his friend Jennifer, a character who seems a tad bit underdeveloped. It often seems that Jennifer's just along for the ride rather than having any real purpose in the plot. But Sheedy does well with what she has to work with. Our young hero and heroine are very much the focus of the story, at times to detrimental effect. All the adults in the story seem rather one-dimensional. Some of them have very important roles to play in the story yet we never know much of anything about them. Besides David and Jennifer there's really only one other character for whom there is any kind of character development going on and that character doesn't even show up until rather late in the proceedings. But this is a movie which will definitely hold your attention. It's a tense, taut thriller which also has some heart to it. And it often looks spectacular, most notably in the scenes which take place inside the NORAD war room, a movie set which was stunningly impressive for its time and actually would still be stunningly impressive today. All in all WarGames is a well-made, suspenseful, enjoyable film. It has its flaws but it is still a film well worth seeing.

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