Wargames 2 vs. Jaws 2

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Wargames 2 vs. Jaws 2

Post by Flack » Tue Jun 30, 2020 6:28 am

Universal began plans for a Jaws sequel almost immediately. Jaws was the original summer blockbuster, and Universal was "chomping at the bit" to cash in on the original's success. Originally the film was to be a prequel based on Quint's Indianapolis speech, but Universal was having none of that -- they wanted essentially a remake of the first film. Spielberg, quoted as saying "I already made the quintessential shark film," refused to sign on, and several other actors (like Richard Dreyfuss) said that without Spielberg at the helm, the would not return. The only two actors that reprised their roles willingly were Lorraine Gary (as Ellen Brody) and Murray Hamilton (as Mayon Vaughn). Roy Scheider, under contract to Universal, reprised his roll as Brody under duress.

If you've seen Jaws, you've seen Jaws 2. In the sequel another great white shark returns to wreak havoc on Amity, and the mayor refuses to believe Brody when he tells them (again) that the explosion in teen deaths is due to a shark. The film had multiple directors and the tone of the final cut is a bit of a mess. Film critic John Kenneth Muir famously said that "opinions towards Jaws 2 depend upon which side of the series it is being compared," stating that while Jaws 2 was far inferior to the original, it wasn't bad when compared to the two sequels that followed. Many people believe the best thing about Jaws 2 is the poster's infamous tagline: "Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ..." Despite everything negative you can say about this film, it broke many records when it was released. It held the record for highest grossing movie sequel (for two years, until The Empire Strikes Back was released), earned more than $70 million during its initial run, and has earned globally more than $200 million.

Unlike Jaws 2 which was shot and released quickly to capitalize on the original, Wargames 2: The Dead Code, was released in 2008, exactly 25 years after the original. Like many cheap sequels, Wargames 2 takes the core of the original's plot and does a global search and replace to update the details. This time around, hacker Will Farmer has infiltrated a military computer system named RIPLEY, which is being used to run drone simulations and kill terrorists. It's a color-by-numbers remake of the original -- Will and his girlfriend go on the run from mean government officials and are rescued by none other than Professor Falken, this time played by Gary Reineke. Just when it seems RIPLEY is going to start World War III, Falken plays his trump card -- he hacks into a dusty and repurposed WOPR (now running a power grid) and uses it to fight RIPLEY. In the film's climax, RIPLEY attempts to launch nuclear missiles to start WW3 (sound familiar?). They even went as far as to use the same 10-digit code from the original, a fact you would think a billion dollar computer system would remember. Even Google Chrome warns me when I pick an insecure password.

It's difficult to understand why Wargames 2 even exists. I'm totally guessing here, but I suspect some executive who loved Wargames as a kid thought they could make a buck or two by updating all the references and essentially remaking the same film. Unfortunately, Matt Lanter lacks the charm of Matthew Broderick, and his character, Will Farmer, is no David Lightman. Farmer's girlfriend, Annie, is mostly along for the ride only because the original had Ally Sheedy, and saying that this girl is no Ally Sheedy is like saying this direct-to-DVD sequel is no Wargames.

Jaws 2 may have been the first movie sequel I was aware of, or at least the first one I saw being played in theaters. I doubt I realized how similar it was to the first film, but even to a little kid, the concept makes sense (where there's one killer shark, there's liable to be two). Wargames 2 lacks that. In both of these fictional worlds it seems like the moral is "we should have learned our lesson," although it one (Jaws 2) it doesn't seem like there's much they can do about another shark attack. In the other, Wargames 2, it seems like the lessons learned from the first film would have lead to a few more precautionary actions -- like disabling Falken's goddamn network account or preventing "joshua" from being used as a password.
"Jack Flack always escapes." -Davey Osborne

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