Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick jump into the way back machine to review the 1981 classic Clash of the Titans!
The Flick: Clash of the Titans
What’s it About: A cinematic retelling of the Greek myth of Perseus. The son of Zeus unwittingly incurs the wrath of the goddess Thetis. In her desire for revenge, she demands Perseus’ bride to be Andromeda as a sacrifice…or she will release the Kraken to destroy not only Andromeda, but Perseus’ adopted home of Joppa. Perseus sets on a perilous quest for the head of Medusa, the one thing that can defeat the Kraken and save all that he loves.
Metacritic Score: 59
The Nerds’ Take Clash of the Titans (1981):
Patrick: Clash of the Titans will forever hold a special place in my heart. As a kid, I watched this movie countless times. Whether on cable TV or begging my parents to rent it, it was one of my go to films growing up. The story itself loosely follows the Greek myth of the hero Perseus. While Beverly Cross’s script and Desmond Davis’s direction are both quite good, most people remember this film for its special effects. Clash of the Titans was creature creator and special effects legend Ray Harryhausen’s last film project, but it is far and away his greatest work. To effectively blend stop motion animation effects into a 1981 action film as seamlessly as he did was unreal for the time. Even today, rewatching this film, the scene with Medusa gets me at how good it still looks. To make a 1 to 2 foot tall stop motion look huge an menacing was a technical feat. The effect is only part of the equation though. The score is terrific and you also have to credit Davis for taking Ray’s great work and building a scene of growing tension right up until the beheading. For my money, that scene is every bit a work of art as any piece of cinema you can find.
The cast for this film is ridiculously good. Harry Hamlin, a heartthrob of the time, is Perseus and he fits the look of the young Greek hero to a tee. Burgess Meredith is Ammon, Perseus’s guide and sidekick for much of the film. While these two leads are strong in their own right, it’s the casting of the Gods that really shine here. Ursula Andress (look her up fellas and thank me later) is Aphrodite. Dame Maggie Smith plays the vengeful Goddess Thetis. She is cold and calculating, yet she also carries the hurt and loss of a mother in such a way that you can empathize with her rage. But if we’re being honest here, the real star of this film is Sir Laurence Olivier chewing up scenes as the mighty Zeus. His voice thunders throughout the film as he commands his fellow Gods to aid his son. And of course, who doesn’t love shouting “Release the Kraken!”. Liam Neeson has nothing on Laurence. He is the icon of the film.
Clash of the Titans is certainly dated, but for it’s time the film was state of the art. Stop motion is a dying art form in many respects, but this film shows it versatility and its beauty. I mentioned Ray Harryhausen previously. This movie is as much his film as it is anyone else’s. Most people can’t name the director of Clash, many know Ray’s work and in this film it is no different. Directors like Peter Jackson and James Cameron point to this film and Ray Harryhausen as an influence in their work. This movie is high fantasy and adventure at its purest. Simply a joy to watch and well worth your time.
Patrick’s Rating: 4.5/5
Dave: This week’s Nerd’s Review is an absolute pleasure to write as we reviewed one of my favorite movies of all-time, 1981’s Clash of the Titans. In recent years, people like to compare this movie to the 2010 remake. Make no mistake….there is no comparison. What the remake lacked, the original had in spades namely heart, soul, and a story that grabbed you from the beginning and never let go.
Clash of the Titans is loosely based on the story of Perseus from Greek mythology. The story begins when an infant Perseus and his mother are abandoned to the sea by the King of Argos, who happens to be Perseus’s grandfather. Well, Perseus also happens to be the son of Zeus. Zeus punishes Argos by commanding Poseidon to “release the Kraken.” The Kraken destroys Argos and everyone in it but Perseus and his mother are rescued. Perseus grows up on a peaceful island until the goddess, Thetis, essentially teleports him to Joppa. There he gazes upon the beauty of the princess, Andromeda, and is hopelessly smitten. Perseus eventually wins the right to marry Andromeda but Andromeda’s mother says some foolish things in the Temple of Thetis to which the goddess takes great exception. Thettis commands that Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken in 30 days. This sets off the central conflict in the story as Perseus has to figure out a way to defeat the Kraken. To do so, he must slay the gorgon, Medusa, who can turn any living creature to stone with but a gaze from her eyes.
When I say I have seen this movie at least 100 times, that is not hyperbole. I was just a teen when it came out but I simply could not get enough of it. The cast is excellent. Harry Hamlin plays Perseus perfectly. Laurence Olivier is masterful as Zeus. Burgess Meredith, who could play just about any role you could give him, plays Ammon, an elderly poet and playwright who essentially is Perseus’s advisor. Maggie Smith is fantastic as Thettis many years before anyone even thought of her as Professor McGonagall from Harry Potter. There is even an appearance from Bond girl Ursula Andress as Aphrodite. The story is told so well and flows absolutely perfectly, considering the heavy aspect of mythology with which director Desmond Davis was dealing. Let’s not overlook the special effects either. True, by modern standards where everything is CGI, it is not the same. But when one considers what Ray Harryhausen was able to accomplish with stop motion effects and miniatures, and to see how they hold up fairly well nearly 40 years later, is nothing short of remarkable. The sequence with Medusa, in particular, is beyond epic and the palpable sense of tension as Medusa stalks Perseus, while Perseus is simultaneously baiting her in for the kill, is utterly magnificent. Throw in the epic clash of the titans at the end, and wrap a good old-fashioned love story around everything, and there is really nothing not to like. If you have only watched the lackluster 2010 remake, then I plead with you to give the original a chance. It is a movie that I never get tired of watching and is as timeless as any piece of cinema I can think of. The final score here should come as no surprise if you have read this far. Clash of the Titans is a must-see for any nerd out there, bandwagon or otherwise.
Dave’s Rating: 5/5
Overall Nerds’ Rating for Clash of the Titans (1981): 4.75/5
Bandwagon Nerds #63: So Many Theories, So Little Time
The Nerds entertain WandaVision theories, discuss another likely Black Widow delay, gush over the first Godzilla v Kong trailer, and much more.
The Nerds entertain WandaVision theories, discuss another likely Black Widow delay, gush over the first Godzilla v Kong trailer, and much more.
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After only three Episodes, WandaVision has the Nerdosphere abuzz with theories and conjecture. It seems that every hour, a new theory is put forward as to what exactly is happening on the latest and greatest show on Disney+. This week, the BWN Crew explores some of those theories…and maybe even adds a few of their own. Plus, the gang discuss another likely delay for Black Widow, the release of the first Godzilla v Kong trailer, Paramount entering the streaming service competition, casting news for She-Hulk, another intriguing Marvel original series on the horizon, the original Muppet Show coming to Disney+, and much more.
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BWN Nerds’ Movie Review: WarGames (1983)
The Nerds tackle WarGames! The movie from 1983, not the wrestling match. Global Thermonuclear War sounds like a fun game! Right?
Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review! Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere. This week Dave and Patrick review 1983’s classic WarGames!
The Flick: WarGames
What’s it About: Underachiever David Lightman has no interest in school, but loves the world of computers. When David finds a backdoor into a computer system named Joshua filled with interesting games. David thinks he’s stumbled onto a fun distraction and chooses to start a game called “Global Thermonuclear War”. What David doesn’t know is that his discovery is much more dangerous than he could ever imagine.
Metacritic Score: 77
The Nerds’ Take on WarGames (1983):
Patrick: “Would you like to play a game?” That’s the question asked of David Lightman when he stumbles into the computer system of an unknown game company in the 1983 film War Games. What follows is a film that introduced many audiences to the concept of computer hacking, pushed the noton of artificial intelligence and tapped into the public’s fears of a Nuclear War with Russia during the Cold War. Loaded with tension, WarGames holds its audience throughout with a climactic scene that is as visually stunning as it is intense.
David Lightman is a bright, but underachieving teenager more interested in his computer than he is at achieving academically. David has learned how to use his modem to find his way into various computer systems (including his school’s system) and looking for ways to manipulate things to his benefit. One day after purposely being sent to the principal’s office so he can steal some passwords, David encounters his classmate Jennifer who takes an interest in David and his skill with the computer. One David learns of a game company on the verge of releasing some new games and decides to try and break into their system and play the new games before they are released. While searching for a way into these various systems, David’s computer comes across a system he can’t seem to enter. Intrigued, David discovers a “back door” into the system, where he comes across various innocuous game titles…and one called “Global Thermonuclear War.” David, thrilled to have a new game to play, starts a round as Russia and immediately launches an attack on the United States. Miles away at NORAD, David’s game registers as a legitimate attack from Russia and the military personnel begin to launch a response. Fortunately, a technician figures out it is a simulation and convinces the military to stand down.
After the incident is resolved, the Government eventually tracks down David and brings him in for questioning. While in custody, David discovers that the computer, now known as Joshua, is still playing the game David and the Government thought was stopped. The computer continues to escalate and execute its strategies, resulting in the United States and Russia gearing up for an attack and retaliation. David, realizing something must be done to stop Joshua, seeks out the computer’s original programmer to try and stop the computer from launching World War 3.
War Games is a fascinating window into the fears and uncertainties of its time. Computers were still relatively novel in the consciousness of the American people and the idea that one could be infiltrated and possibly cause a world war was terrifying. Complicated by the tensions between Russia and the United States, War Games is adept putting the audience on edge. Given the film is nearly 40 years old (YIKES!), things naturally extraordinarily dated. Younger viewers will undoubtedly be curious as to what a modem is and why people are putting quarters into a phone to use it. But for its time, the technology is cutting edge. Nowadays the idea of hacking is commonplace. One scene that has aged well, though is the final scene in the heart of NORAD. In an effort to show the computer Joshua the futility of war, David forces the game to play itself. As it does so, all of these oversized monitors start running simulations. The audience is assaulted with a dazzling display of light and color that even today is still quite powerful.
The movie’s cast is carried by young Matthew Broderick, still three years away from his turn as Ferris Bueller. Broderick does really, really well playing a kid in waaaaay over his head, desperately trying to convince hardened federal agents he is not a spy. Years before her turn in the Breakfast Club, Ally Sheedy plays Jennifer. The great Dabny Coleman plays head programmer McKittrick. In true Coleman fashion, he plays the role of slimy asshole better than anyone. My favorite cast member though is the great Barry Corbin in the role of General Beringer. Corbin goes from exasperated to stoic at the turn of a dime. When the threat ultimately passes (38 year spoiler alert) he nearly melts into his seat with relief and the audience can feel the tension leave him.
I have a soft spot in my heart for War Games. While much of the movie is dated by today’s standards, it was far ahead of its time in its portrayal of the act of hacking. While it would be lovely to think that the World is nowhere near a third World War, it seems we may be as close as ever. WarGames ends with a great sense of relief in a war avoided, but it also shows how fragile maintaining a peace can be. While I don’t think the path to such a conflict would necessarily happen the way it did in WarGames, the threat is sadly still very much a reality. Watch this movie for the nostalgia, the dated technology, the strong cast and its dynamite finally. It hasn’t aged perfectly, but WarGames still has some punch.
Patrick’s Rating: 3.78/5.0
Dave As a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Washington D.C in 1983, WarGames hit home on many levels. This was a time when the Cold War was still very hot and living at Ground Zero, we were all keenly aware of the very real threat of nuclear Armageddon that hung over humanity on a disturbingly regular basis. WarGames played upon this reality as well as any movie of its era and it is still one of my absolute favorites.
The general plot of WarGames revolves around the idea that when faced with the reality of turning a key and ending the lives of millions of other humans, the humans in the silos might not have the stomach to press that proverbial button. So, the US Government decides to remove the men from the loop and have a computer, the W.O.P.R., be completely in charge of the USA’s nuclear response in the event of a nuclear strike from the USSR. Meanwhile, David Lightman, a high school genius of sorts and computer wizard at the dawn of home computer technology, is busy using his computer knowledge to change his biology grades and avoid summer school. He gets wind of a new lineup of games from a company called Protovision and he decides to try and find the Protovision computer so he can, in essence, hack into it and play those games before anyone else can. Instead, he stumbles across a remote connection to the W.O.P.R machine and learns all about the man who developed it, Professor Stephen Falken. Using a password that Professor Falken created as a backdoor to W.O.P.R., David gets into the Defense Department’s computer system and decides to play a game called Global Thermonuclear War. The problem is that the game is not a game at all and the aspect of W.O.P.R. that has learning capabilities, also known as Joshua, conducts such a convincing simulation that it convinces the military that the simulation is real. This leads the world to the brink of World War III and a race against time as David and his girlfriend, Jennifer, try to convince Professor Falken to let the military know what is really going on before it is too late.
The movie has an awesome cast, led by a very young Matthew Broderick who plays David Lightman, an equally young Ally Sheedy who plays Jennifer, John Wood as Professor Falken, Dabney Coleman as Dr. McKittrick, and a host of others you will immediately recognize. Everyone works together seamlessly and almost perfectly. While the move almost certainly takes some liberties with the reality of the situation had it actually been presented, WarGames does a fantastic job, especially the last 30 minutes, of taking you inside the control room at NORAD as Joshua displays on its screens an overwhelming Soviet nuclear strike. The tension gets ratcheted up as General Beringer orders the system to DEFCON 1 as some 2400 Soviet ICBMs are being tracked. When David, Jennifer, and Professor Falken show up at NORAD and convince the brass that everything is just a simulation, everything seems to be OK…. until Joshua tries to access the launch codes on its own to launch the US missiles and complete the game.
WarGames has so much good stuff going on. It deals with early concepts of things that are commonplace now, such as the beginnings of what would eventually become the Internet, hacking, and AI. The idea of a computer being able to learn may not seem so far-fetched now but in 1983, it was all rather ground-breaking. Lost amidst everything however, the most important lesson to learn about nuclear war is: The only winning move is not to play. Clearly, the movie means something very different to me than it will to those who did not grow up in the 1980’s prior to the fall of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Block. It came out at a time when many people either believed that a nuclear war could be won or, in the alternative, that acceptable losses could exist in any such apocalyptic event. WarGames hammered home the senselessness of any such belief and instilled in many of us the hope that those in charge would never knowingly order the annihilation of the human race. Thankfully, some 38 years later, no one has made the mistake of challenging that belief.
It also is worth mentioning that this movie could, and possibly should, be watched with another 1983 movie, albeit one made for TV, The Day After. Where WarGames showed the logic of avoiding nuclear war entirely, The Day After showed the other side of the coin, about how a nuclear war could start, the catastrophic results of the war, and what happens the day after. WarGames was hopeful; The Day After was hopeless. Still, for anyone who wants to get a good idea of how things were in the early 1980’s watch those two movies back-to-back and you will learn a great deal of what you need to know. As for WarGames though, it remains one of my all-time favorites from the 1980’s. No East German judge here guys.
Dave’s Rating: 5/5
Nerds’ Rating for WarGames (1983): 4.39/5.0
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