WarGames: The Dead Code (2008)

Genre(s): Drama / Science Fiction / Thriller
MGM || PG13 - 100 minutes - $26.98 || July 29, 2008
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2008-08-05


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Stuart Gillard
Writer(s): Lawrence Lasker & Walter F. Parkes (characters), Randall Badat (teleplay), Rob Kerchner and Randall Badat (story)
Cast: Matt Lanter, Amanda Walsh, Colm Feore, Chuck Shamata, Maxim Roy, Nicolas Wright


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • The Making of WarGames: The Dead Code
  • Production Stills Gallery


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (1.78)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 2.0), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

WarGames or: How I Stopped Worrying and Loved the Supercomputer.

Since 2001: A Space Odyssey, the supercomputer has become a nemesis for humankind many times over. Terminator tells of a future where totally autonomous machines battle humans and 1983’s WarGames finds a smart teenager who hacks into a military supercomputer and starts to play a game, but develops instead into what might turn out to be World War III!

Now, 25 years later, that darn old military is still at it. They have a new ultra-supercomputer used to fight the war on terror. This machine makes reasoned decisions basically on its own based on intelligence received in real time over the Internet. Using that info, it determines a course of action and, even without human interaction, makes them.

Enter whizz kid Will Farmer (Lanter; Star Wars: The Clone Wars), a computer savvy teen who lets his best pal convince him to play a new online game called “The Dead Code” where the player wins money based upon the number of civilian deaths they inflict in a certain amount of time. Little does he know, but this game is run and monitored by the supercomputer, named RIPLEY, with high scorers sending a red flag to supervisors as that individual might be a part of some kind of terrorist cell!

Of course, the government’s case that Will might be a possible terrorist is only bolstered by the fact his neighbor’s computer was recently hacked and when Will looked at the guy’s bank records, it shows he has been flushed with money... and growing. You see, Will’s bud suggested using some of those funds (coming from the Middle East, of course) to play the game and win some extra dough so Will can go on a trip to Canada to be with his high school crush, Annie (Walsh).

Wanting to know how far it all goes, the government monitors Will’s movements in Canada using security cameras placed all around the city and, in the meantime, also pick up anyone who might’ve been involved with this plot. Funny thing about that is, they grab the neighbor and take him away in a vehicle with plates that, after Will hacks into every agency known to man, don’t exist, but right in front of him! Now, if they seriously felt that Will was some kind of terrorist planning on exploding a chemical bomb in Philadelphia, wouldn’t a bunch of government agents arresting people RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS FACE set off some alarms within a cell??? Wouldn’t such action only speed up the timeline? Ah, yes, I think I just inserted some logic into this inane story.

WarGames: The Dead Code looks and feels like a direct-to-DVD movie. Outside of sharing the same first name, Matt Lanter has nothing on Matthew Broderick, but even so, his acting was downright awful. Lanter’s expressions put Keanu Reeves to shame and he delivers lines with no emotion. What? Was no one from any of The WB’s TV shows not available or something, because take your pick, any one of them couldn’t have done worse.

Even veteran everyman actor Colm Feore is a complete waste in this film. I guess he’s the equivalent to Dabney Coleman’s character in the original, but even as a light-weight antagonist, he falls all too short.

But in the end, the biggest problem with The Dead Code is time. In 1983, the idea of a computer having that much power over mankind was intriguing but in 2008, the number of people who have computers in their homes has got to be at 80%+ and of those, I good portion are probably computer literate. While indeed the idea of a computer gaining power over the humans who built them is interesting, it just doesn’t work in this setting. Also, can anyone think of something more fascinating than seeing two supercomputers duke it out with an ultimate game of chicken? I mean, wow, riveting stuff right there folks.

For better or worse, WarGames: The Dead Code actually does have a connection with the original rather than being a remake (although this story is still basically a rehash) so maybe fans of the 1983 original will find something of use, but for the rest, it’s just another crappy film destined to be forgotten in those bargain bins.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

A slow commentary track with director Stuart Gillard and actor Matt Lanter starts things. The track is informative but isn’t exactly lively either. There is a featurette brilliantly title, The Making of WarGames: The Dead Code (14:45) which features a variety of interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. There’s also a production stills gallery and trailers for other MGM movies.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

Fox provides watermarked screeners so what I saw may or may not be the final version. If/when I get the final product I will update this page with my complete thoughts on the picture. However, the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen with a 1.78 OAR.

Not sure if the audio will be the same, but assuming so, the provided Dolby Digital 5.1 mix gets the job done, but nothing more. Dialogue comes through the center speaker while others get utilized for those occasional crashes or explosions. A word of advice: before starting the movie, make sure the 5.1 track is selected as with mine the default was a Dolby Stereo mix.



.::OVERALL::.

WarGames: The Dead Code is another pointless sequel that merely rehashes the original but even do that very well. The acting is questionable and star Matt Lanter, who might be a decent supporting actor, doesn’t have what it takes to carry a film. And when you add in one of the least suspenseful climaxes, The Dead Code is a movie destined to be forgotten, and for good reason.