Daily Archives: February 8, 2015

“Mr. Potato Head! Mr. Potato Head! Back doors are not secrets.”

The interesting thing about this next movie is that for the longest time after it was released, there were multiple pop culture references that people used all the time.

Two decades removed from the Cold War now, this film has lost its pop culture reference appeal and is now used to date dinosaurs like me when we quote it.  It is one of those films that you watch now and think, “Wow, so outdated.”  A lot of the things that were covered in this film were talked about for the first time.

Using computers for war. Having computers on your desk at home (I know, back in 1983, not everyone had a computer at home on their desk…crazy).

I’m going to list a few pop culture references from this film and you let me know if you’ve heard them before by commenting:

“Wouldn’t-you-prefer-a-nice-game-of-chess?” (electronic computer voice)

“To-win-the-game.” (electronic computer voice)

Defcon 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (5=peace, 1=World War III)

The use of the phrase “Launch Codes” which was used in about a million other war movies after this one.

There’s a few.  The film was very anti-computer and paranoid with that message.  Not only have the people we elected put computers in charge of our future, but they don’t have a fail safe if the computers were ever compromised.  Talk about putting the public in danger.  I think this film is one of the subconscious reasons my parents were always afraid to get a desk top.  What if it tried to kill us? I kid….slightly.

War Games” is about a smart “computer savvy” nerd that does not do well in school mainly because he is bored and has figured out how to use his computer to change his grades.  Why work when you don’t need to?  This general boredom that he has leads to trying to impress a girl (not played by Kerri Greensad face) and he learns how to break into the national defense system from his desk top.  He simulates a game of “Global Thermonuclear War” that appears on his computer as well as the national defense system’s screen, and they do not think it is a “game.”

For it’s time, this was a very entertaining film.  The public did not have the knowledge of computers that they have now and were easily drawn into the possibility of something like this happening.  We fear what we do not understand.  Basically, I didn’t get a computer until I was in college.

I really liked the acting and the writing and again, I bought the child doing adult things and eventually being the one that has to fix the mess he created.  He did get a little help from the man who created the system, but it was his smarts in the heat of the moment that saved the day.  Another 80s kid that could accomplish anything.  These movies were all over our culture.  Of course we thought we could actually be POTUS one day.  We could save our townsave a different world in a different universe, and even prevent real life Global Thermonuclear war.

POTUS just seems like destiny after that.

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“Those were happier times…”

Talk about an animated film that both children and adults enjoyed alike and I will show you the original “Lord of the Rings.”  It was made in 1978, and in its time, it was a marvel of animation.  Ralph Bakshi was the director and he had heard a rumor of the studios trying to create a 100 minute feature of the LOTR trilogy in it’s entirety.  He went straight to J. R. R. Tokien’s daughter and convinced her to give him the rights to complete the animated feature with the proper time allocated that a story of that scope deserves.

I know that this is generally not the kind of stuff you expect to read on my blog, but I do not want there to be any confusion with this version that I am going to talk about and the Peter Jackson Epic Trilogy that was done in 2001, 2002, and 2003 (Talk about the scope it deserved).

This was the film that got me reading.

I remember watching it with my mother.  She knew the answers to everything and this surprised me as I had been watching it with her for her first time too and I wanted to know how she had all of the answers.  She went into her room and pulled some books from her shelf and showed me the paperback copies of The Lord of the Rings trilogy that she owned.  I found that she was such a fan, she read them approximately once a year.  They were her favorite literature and when she saw that the Lord of the Rings was now available on VHS, she wanted to share that story she loved so much, with us.

The amazing things I remember were the scenes in which the director “painted” over actual actors performing live action and dialogue.  He saved a lot of these scenes for the Nazgul and the Orcs that were kidnapping Merry and Pippin.  It was both captivating and horrifying at the same time.  Cartoons were supposed to be obvious make believe.  That is why they are drawings.  There was a strange feel to the action of this film when they had the “painted live action” sequences.  Adding the feel of live action elements to an animated feature like this increased the suspense and we had a hard time looking away.

I remember being upset that we did not see the story through to the end.  This feature raps up at the end of Helm’s deep.  We miss out on Shelob, the Ents, the Battle at Pelennor Fields, the Gate of Mordor, and the plunge of the ring into Mount Doom.  Everyone talks about Frodo taking the ring to Mount Doom, but he never ends up there in this film.  We briefly see Treebeard and the film ends shortly after that occurrence.

The film was made in 1978, we watched it in 1986.  My mom was convinced that there would have been a sequel by then if Hollywood was going to finish the story.

She was right.

Even though the film’s story was unfinished, it still influenced me to find the ending on a different medium.  I started reading books and J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was the one that started me off on that new adventure.  I was done completing the entire trilogy by the time I was in junior high and was satisfied that I had watched the ending in my mind.  I felt a greater sense of accomplishment doing it that way and decided to make a habit of that too.

Once Stephen King was discovered, I took a break from movies for a while…not a long while, but a while none the less.

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The final shot of Gandalf riding down some Orcs at Helm’s Deep will be in my mind forever as I had never seen something that brutal before, and in a “cartoon” no less.  That’s probably why my parents were okay with me watching it.

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