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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

dream cast: hypothetical ‘WarGames’ remake

It’s Thursday, so it’s time to remake an 80s classic TV show or movie with an all-new cast. This week: WarGames, the 1983 thriller that taught America to be terrified of smart but slackerish Xers who like to goof around with computers.

(If you have a suggestion for an 80s TV show or movie we should play with, feel free to email me.)
The original cast included:

David Lightman: Matthew Broderick
Jennifer Katherine Mack: Ally Sheedy
Dr. Stephen Falken: John Wood
Dr. John McKittrick: Dabney Coleman
General Jack Beringer: Barry Corbin

Some of the cultural attitudes of the film would have to change in a modern remake, like the idea that a kid playing with computers constitutes something weird. And we’d probably have a team of really nice teenagers working together trying to prevent the world from being destroyed by a computer, instead of just two independent-minded slackers. But the overall gist of it… well, it’d probably end up looking like Eagle Eye, actually.

My new cast, with a gender switcheroo, just for fun:

Danielle Lightman: Kat Dennings
John Mack: Zac Efron
Dr. Stephen Falken: Robert Downey Jr.
Dr. John McKittrick: John Simm
General Jack Beringer: Richard Dean Anderson

Shall we play a game?


MPAA: rated PG


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  • PaulW

    You forgot to cast the computer! ;)

    But the problem, as you noted, is that it’s hard to place the story in today’s settings: most people use computers now so it’s not as alien a concept as in 1983. Also, the Cold War paranoia that allowed such a possible ‘computer goes amok with our warheads’ seem plausible just isn’t there any more: are we gonna play Global Thermonuclear War with Pakistan now? Even North Korea can’t launch missiles close enough to Alaska to be a plausible threat. And even with all the saber-rattling rhetoric against Russia and China, war with them seems so… foolish now.

    We’ve had other teen-team hacker movies recently anyway… don’t see a need to remake ’em.

  • TempestDash

    There just was a Wargames remake, actually, earlier this year. I think it was a direct-to-DVD called “Wargames 2”. I haven’t seen it yet but the trailers looked bad. It’s on Netflix’ direct play now so anyone who subscribes can take a look tonight.

    Wargames is probably my favorite hacking movie of all time, mostly because it relies on social engineering rather than the popular “hack the Gibson!” style of completely implausible hacking.

    The closest to a modern day version of War Games has actually been made in my opinion, actually, and it’s called Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. But if I were to dream up a more literal translation of the original film, my dream cast would be:

    Lightman: Jake Gyllenhaal
    Mack: Michaela Conlin
    Falken: Christopher Eccelson
    Kittrick: Cliff Curtis
    Beringer: Keith David

    I struggled with who to play Jennifer Mack, as I swapped back and forth between Jake Gyllenhaal and Kal Penn as who to play Lightman. I settled on Michaela because of her performance on the show ‘Bones’ where I believe she plays a character similar to what her role would be in this film.

    Jake and Kal were contending because I wanted a young looking actor familiar with playing ‘goofy intellectual’ roles. Eccelson is there because I think he plays a good fringe eccentric well. And Curtis and David were picked because they I think they play good sympathetic characters that are forced to be at-odds with the protagonists at times.

  • MaryAnn

    We’ve had other teen-team hacker movies recently anyway… don’t see a need to remake ’em.

    Aw, come on. This game isn’t about movies that *need* to be remade. It’s just a thought exercise in fun.

  • Jester

    PaulW is right. You forgot to cast the WOPR. The WOPR was almost a character in the first one and should be a character in the remake. I also have a sense that the new WOPR should be female, particularly if Lightman is going to be female.

    However, one of the dynamics that existed in the first movie was a father-son dynamic, and it existed on multiple levels: Falken-Joshua, obviously, and Falken-WOPR (the replacement son), but also Falken-Lightman. Does that dynamic work as well if Lightman is female? It would definitely have to change. If Lightman is female, it’s a much easier dynamic to create (father-daughter, obviously) if both Joshua and WOPR are also female.

    WOPR: Gillian Anderson

  • MaryAnn

    Okay, WOPR: Sigourney Weaver

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