The Night of the Comet compared / contrasted with WarGames

The starting point for this film criticism is the introduction of the main protagonists in the films. In WarGames, the music is upbeat, the scene is an arcade, and we see David Lightman’s face reflected on the screen of the arcade game, Galaga. In The Night of the Comet, the music is upbeat and festive, the scene is a movie theater, and we see Regina Belmont reflecting the arcade game, Tempest, off of her face. In The Night of the Comet, the protagonist is reflecting the arcade game while in WarGames the arcade game is reflecting the protagonist. Comparing and contrasting this starting point, I find it striking, significant, and symbolic. Notice the look of determination in the protagonist’s face and the focus in the protagonist’s eyes. Consider how we begin simply with the protagonist and their arcade game. From this starting point - the protagonist and their arcade game - I argue, the comparison and contrast will be found to be symbolic.

I cannot begin to explain the impact these two films have had on my life. I took a course in Film at community college in which I received an ‘A’. I also received my Associate degree, but not in Film. I was deciding whether or not to be an English major. I probably couldn’t explain even if I wanted to. What are two of my favorite films really about? I identify with David Lightman and Regina Belmont.

While I’m not sure I completely understand what the OP is going for here, I think you should extend your comparisons to The Last Starfighter, which:

a) came out in the same year as Night of the Comet,
b) also co-stars Night of the Comet’s Catherine Mary Stewart, and
c) prominently features a video game. We first see the protagonist, Alex, playing the game.

As for *Wargames *vs Night of the Comet, I like both movies. I think *Wargames *is a better movie overall. However, Ally Sheedy in *Wargames *is just cute, while Catherine Mary Stewart in *Night of the Comet *is totally hot! Plus, comet-zombies! Damn, this is a dilemma…

Okay, here’s what tips the scales for me. Galaga is a MUCH cooler game than Tempest. *Wargames *wins.

Heck, why not compare The Last Starfighter to Star Wars?

Protagonist is young man trapped in dreary existence, removed entirely from the galactic war.
Wizened old mentor shows up, makes offer.
Wizened old mentor dies, but not entirely…
Protagonist destroys main enemy vessel by hitting it in its one vulnerable spot.
Main villain survives, flies off in personal vessel for possible sequel.

You’re telling me… You like both movies but think WarGames is a better movie overall? Why?

You, ironically, got to the point of my using Tempest and Galaga as reference points for David and Regina in* The Night of the Comet *and WarGames.

Because this is partially a study of the video games and films - Star Wars, Superman, Galaga, Tempest - referenced in either The Night of the Comet or WarGames. This is a philosophical question. Don’t let the thread title fool you; this is not a film comparison. This is, for lack of a better term and to attempt a serious discussion about these serious films (if anything), film criticism. So I’m not just considering whether both films are in the same or in a different universe - Superman referenced in *The Night of the Comet *and Star Wars referenced in WarGames - but also a character study, the simularity between their - David’s and Regina’s - reality.

You, on other hand, went off on a tangent. :smiley:

I was kinda hoping to start a game of leapfrog, where somebody would compare Star Wars to another film, which would be compared by someone else to yet another film, and so forth.
Anyway, The Last Starfighter also featured a video game, though it was really a disguised simulator/pilot evaluation.

And in Club Dread, one of the resort guests is chased through a hedge maze by four babes wearing big t-shirts. When he grabs the symbolic power pellet, they strip off their shirts to reveal their bikinis and he gets to chase them for a while.

What do you find striking or significant about it? What is it a symbol of? How does a comparison of these two scenes illuminate their significance or symbolism?


Whether intentional or not, director Thom Eberhardt made a complementary scene with Regina reflecting the video game mirroring director John Badham’s scene of the video game reflecting David. We see David Lightman indirectly because of Galaga and we see Tempest indirectly because of Regina Belmont. I think once I put two and two together, I achieved the video game level called Nirvana.

Significant - “Don’t be an overachiever, you’ll fit in better with your age group.” as movie theater manager Mel said to Regina in The Night of the Comet. Don’t be an overachiever? So be like David?
Symbolic - meta-comparison - Larry said in The Night of the Comet, “Television is real, television is very real.” ORLY?

Now, returing to the video games: the question - Is it a game, or is it real?

Thank you, Miller. Thank you so much for your post. These are my kind of questions. Like you’d find on a college course syllabus. But believe me, I’m done with college. I’d like to keep this thread at an academic level. No reason we can’t keep it fun, though. After all. *These are fun movies.*The Night of the Comet :cool: and WarGames :D.

Both have exposition; the military in WarGames and the scientists in The Night of the Comet. Both have red opening credits which I think is pretty cool. But once we get to David and Regina at the video games, the military in their bunker and the scientists in their bunker - the exposition - don’t matter. Or they? What I mean is, it would be interesting (at least for me) to find out what exactly Dopers who watched both films liked about them. And perhaps more interesting (for others, besides me), is for those who haven’t watched them to figure out what the exposition - the military, the scientists - is about.

Close. You were thinking leapfrog. I was thinking piggyback:

Tangent understood this is a meta-comparison – compare / contrast Tempest and Galaga through *The Night of the Comet *and WarGames. Also, compare / contrast Star Wars and Superman through *The Night of the Comet *and WarGames. Compare / contrast Regina Belmont and David Lightman through WarGames and The Night of the Comet!

The deturmination, the focus - the simularity - they are of the same mind.

Difficult question for me: who is cooler - David or Regina?

What if Regina was in WarGames and David was in The Night of the Comet?

Meta-character Study

Nigan re David Lightman: “He fits the profile perfectly. He’s intelligent, but an underachiever. Alienated from his parents. Has few friends. Classic case for recruitment by the Soviets.”

The Night of the Comet
Mel to Regina Belmont : “Don’t be an overachiever, you’ll fit in better with your age group.”
Am I the only one to see the irony here?
David and Regina both play video games.
I’m beginning to believe that it wasn’t unintentional that Thom Eberhardt has a scene with Regina reflecting the video game mirroring John Badham’s scene of the video game reflecting David.

Well, would Catherine Mary Stewart be using her skills to try to seduce Ally Sheedy? If so, I’m on board.

Well, if the the biology teacher remains there, then, the line would be: “Alright, Belmont, maybe you could tell us who first suggested the idea of reproduction without sex?”
Then, she’d say: “You’ve got a dirty mind, Mr. Liggett. Even if you were the last man on Earth… why don’t you make like the dinosaurs and go extinct you creep!” Then her and Jennifer would giggle and laugh and they’d both be sent down to Mr. Kessler’s office.


If they ever make a movie about Sinistar I won’t watch it, because Sinistar scares me.

He lives.

I don’t think there’s any particular significance to the two scenes. Using a computer monitor (or, in these cases, a video game screen) as a reflecting/projecting surface is a pretty common film cliche. It’s possible, given their age and placement early in the home computer/video arcade boom of the '80s, that one or the other of these films was the first to employ this sort of shot, but I kind of doubt it.

I don’t really see the significance here, either. It does have something to say about gender expectations - the smart boy is criticized for not achieving enough, while the smart girl is criticized for achieving too much, but I don’t think the comparison adds much to this insight. It’s pretty apparent based on a simple viewing of Night of the Comet by itself.

I’m not sure what you’re trying to say here.

Okay, I was intentionally glib in my previous response, so I’ll answer this question more thoughtfully.

First let me point out that it may be a difficult comparison. WarGames–though it has many humorous moments–is basically a thriller that has a serious message about the futility of nuclear war. A message delivered with a heavy-hand, perhaps, but a message nonetheless. Night of the Comet, on the other hand, is a much more lighthearted teen comedy. Post-apocalptic, yes, and the protagonists are put in mortal peril more than once, but still kind of intentionally silly and campy in spirit. These two movies were aiming for different goals, and they both score.

That said, I think *WarGames *is better at moving its plot along, building tension, and developing its characters. When David is on the run, you feel his desperation. As Joshua proceeds with its simulation, you really get the sense that the fate of the world is at stake. There is escalation as the story plays out. There is a mystery that unfolds as David seeks out Joshua’s designer. The Broderick and Sheedy characters become less playful and more serious as the intensity of the situation rises. I find all this pretty effective at pulling me into the story, so that by the time the movie ends I feel like I’ve been on this journey alongside the main characters.

In Night of the Comet when the characters are faced with the tragic, sudden death of most of the world’s population, they have a shopping montage! :stuck_out_tongue: The sisters clash over the cute new guy, while on the run from comet-zombies! The acting is pretty poor and the violence is cartoonish. Again, it’s just a different kind of movie, so it’s kind of an unfair comparison. But I never got as much sense of urgency or danger in this movie and the story is more uneven than in WarGames. I still like Night of the Comet a lot, though. It’s a fun time capsule from the eighties.

BTW, I agree with Miller that you’re probably overanalyzing the video game thing.

I believe you. :slight_smile: You say you were intentionally glib. However, I say that you were intentionally logical. Therefore, you were circumspect.


Great. Yes! You compared / contrasted the films, and you did so using something *within *the films, and something that I believe for whatever reason is important to the protagonists, the plot, the theme, everything. You know so much about these films!

Ok. Good. Very good. Two scenes. You don’t believe there’s any particular significance? But was it a cliche then? And were there other films in the `80s that had the same kind of shot as WarGames and The Night of the Comet? These are three questions I would like answered, too. Presumably the directors might not be available answer these questions.
But another question is this - a very, very, important question - how does that scene in *The Night of the Comet *end? The scene ends with game over, milk duds, REG, DMK, “when did this happen?”, not listening to Mel’s “advice”, then “Regina look this way”, and then listening to Mel’s orders. Obviously, alot happens during the end of this scene (not to mention after the end of the game). Before he gives his order - which I’m ok with and, in fact, turns out best for her - he says to her what he thinks are offhand remarks, which are significant to Regina, the plot of the film, the theme of both films, and the theme of both scenes, and, above all, the spirit of David Lightman and Regina Belmont.

You don’t see the irony here? No, it doesn’t have anything to do with gender, or generation or race for that matter.

Now you’ve done it. You thought Global Thermonuclear War sounded chilling. Sometimes, when I’m watching the opening scene of Regina on the arcade, I get lost in the game, like before high school, and it’s like I’m staring into the face of Polybius. :eek:

I think the question becomes - who’s playing whom? Is the human playing the game, or the game playing the human?

In Wargames, the game is in Focus while David is out of focus. To me, this seems to be the game playing David. Once David sets the events of the movie into motion he loses all control. He is in the hands of police, military, Joshua, and the guy who wrote the video game (forgot his name). This also parallels what the movie is saying about nuclear weapons - the best way to win the game is not to play.

In Night of the Comet, Regina is in focus and we just see the game reflected on her face - she is the one who is in control. I’ve not seen this movie in years - but if memory serves - even though the world around her had been destroyed she was still in control of herself and her situation. The world was hers to play, and if Daddy was there, she’d have powered up to her Uzi!

Then what happens? :wink:

(hopefully more laughing, giggling, tickling, spanking?)