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PopEntertainment.com > Reviews > Movie Reviews > WarGames - The Dead Code

MOVIE REVIEWS

WARGAMES - THE DEAD CODE  (2008)

Starring Matt Lanter, Amanda Walsh, Chuck Shamata, Maxim Roy, Nicolas Wright, Claudia Ferri, Colm Feore, Gary Reineke, Susan Glover, Ricky Mabe and Matthew Raudsepp.

Screenplay by Randall M. Badat and Rob Kerchner.

Directed by Stuart Gillard.

Distributed by MGM Home Video.  100 minutes.  Rated PG-13.

WarGames - The Dead Code

In recent years, new versions of long dormant classic film franchises have been met with relative popularity.  It started in the late 90s with the popular trio of Star Wars prequels, and has been followed by the more muted response to the the likes of Rocky Balboa, Live Free or Die Hard, Rambo and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Now, it seems we are getting way past-due sequels to a bunch of twenty-year-old minor hits which we didn't actually realize we were missing.  (Or is it remakes?  It's such a fine line sometimes...).  Most of these have gone straight to video, titles like Bachelor Party 2 - The Last Temptation, Dirty Dancing - Havana Nights (which actually did have a very short theatrical run), Lost Boys - The Tribe and Cutting Edge - Chasing the Dream.

In fact, Heroes star Matt Lanter may be the figurehead of this groundswell, not only starring in the last Cutting Edge film but also the latest example, WarGames - The Dead Code.

Most of these updates are sequels in name and basic storyline only - they are new variations of the old story with new characters and new locations.  Unlike most of those other mentioned straight-to-video films, WarGames - The Dead Code is at least not starting from ground zero.  There is one recurring character from the original movie (though he is played by a different actor this time around) - two if you count a computer as a character.

The original WarGames was a 1983 thriller with Matthew Broderick and Ally Sheedy as a proto-hacker and his girlfriend.  When he is trying to hack into the new game system he mistakenly made it into the NORAD computer - thinking that he is playing a game while he is actually possibly causing cataclysmic changes in world peace.

Of course, you have to keep in mind, when the original WarGames was a hit, Atari, MS-DOS and dial-up modems were considered the state of the art in computing. 

In the twenty-five years since WarGames, the cold war has ended as well, leaving the makers of The Dead Code searching for a new global threat.

In their favor, the makers of WarGames - The Dead Code are the first of this group who actually significantly upped the ante on the story of original film.  WarGames was an intriguing thriller, but it was mostly sort of insulated - it may have had large implications but essentially it was a pretty small story.  I'm not just saying taking the old story and making it bigger, which most of the other sequel/remakes consider good enough. 

The Dead Code does try to legitimately update much of the storyline - bringing new world concerns and a whole new series of potential enemies to the table.  There is also a bit of rather pointed commentary on the current state of Homeland Security.

Not all of the action works.  There is a scene where two teenagers are able to outrun a car for several blocks.  They also never quite explain how a US computer - even a government supercomputer - can have complete and unfettered access to all of the Canadian security cameras in Montreal.

Still, WarGames - The Dead Code captures modern paranoia and dread.  In fact, in some ways the film is more reminiscent of Live Free or Die Hard than the original WarGames - despite the fact that the new film does faithfully follow the basic skeleton of the story from the original.  They just amped it up significantly.

Of course the climax of WarGames - The Dead Code has the same basic problem that the original film had - we are watching a potentially cataclysmic event which is only theoretically happening within a computer.  It is a phantom threat.  Chances are - unless the makers of the movie are planning on really annihilating Philadelphia - nothing of great consequence will actually happen to anyone who is not inside this war room. 

However, as these kind of straight-to-video sequels go, WarGames - The Dead Code is a hell of a lot better than most.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright 2008 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: July 13, 2008.

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Copyright 2008   PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: July 13, 2008.

 

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