Blue Thunder & War Games

As part of their September series, featuring directors discussing their work, the American Cinematheque will screen a double bill of BLUE THUNDER and WAR GAMES, two science-fiction-oriented thrillers directed by John Badham (who also helmed the 1979 DRACULA with Frank Langella). Badham will be there in person for a question-and-answer session moderated by film historian Eric Lichtenfeld.

The CInemathque describes the films thus:

BLUE THUNDER, 1983, Sony Pictures, 109 min. Deja vu 1983! The government has unleashed its newest weapon: a heavily armed helicopter that can spy on you from 1,000 feet and incinerate entire city blocks. The only ones who can stop Big Brother (in the form of Malcolm McDowell's fascist cop) from using it against us are Vietnam vet-turned-police chopper pilot Roy Scheider and his tech-savvy partner, Daniel Stern. Director John Badham's paranoid actioner flies high with stunning cinematography by John Alonzo and dazzling dogfights over downtown L.A.
WARGAMES, 1983, MGM Repertory, 114 min. Gentlemen, please: no video-gaming in the war room. For Matthew Broderick's seminal teen computer hacker, coming of age, saving the world and getting Ally Sheedy means accidentally triggering World War III (and causing big headaches for the likes of Dabney Coleman and Barry Corbin). Director John Badham's tale of a boy, his modem and Armageddon is as suspenseful -- and unnerving -- as ever. Both films scored by Arthur Rubinstein.

I'm not a particularly big fan of either one. BLUE THUNDER is a bit too obviously designed as an excuse for the big, bad helicopter to blow up Los Angeles (fun though that may be), and WAR GAMES is a bit too preachy in its anti-nuclear message (not to mention it was the heyday Matthew Broderick's smug "I can do no wrong because I'm cute" persona).

That said, the two films together provide at least enough entertainment value to make this double bill worth seeing, and they provide an interesting time capsule of '80s action film-making. Plus, Badham is a good raconteur and should have some great stories to tell.

The screening takes place on Sunday, September 14 at 5:30pm in the Aero Theatre - 1328 Montana Avenue, Santa Monica.