Search This Blog

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Cloak & Dagger

Hello, everyone!  Another weekend is upon us, and because of that, we have another movie discussion on the way in a little feature I like to call "Saturday Night At The Movies"!

And if you've been following along with the blog over the course of the last few weeks, we're currently doing a special 10-part series.  I found the above compilation of family films at work, bought it, and started to watch them all, reviewing each and every one as I go.  Some have been clunkers, but others have been brilliant.  And when it comes to today's film, I would consider it to be one of the brilliant ones.  Of course, that is simply my opinion, and you might not agree.  But of the 10 films that are on this compilation, I consider it to be one of the better ones.

I suppose that part of the reason why I liked this movie so much is because the main plot revolved around an activity that I enjoyed as a kid, and for that matter, still enjoy today - even though the games that are released today aren't nearly as fun to play as the ones prior.

I'm talking about the world of fantasy role playing games.

If you're a self-confessed video game nerd as I consider myself to be, it's likely that you've immersed yourself into the world of fantasy gaming, be it playing "World of Warcraft" with thousands of your closest online pals, to exploring Hyrule as Link in the countless "Legend of Zelda" games that have been released over the last two and a half decades.

My very first experience with fantasy role playing games came from a game known as "StarTropics" for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  It was part platform, part RPG, but 100% fun.  I definitely think that game sparked my love of fantasy role playing games. 

After I received my Super Nintendo, one of the first games that I remember playing over and over again was "Final Fantasy IV", and that was the game that probably sparked my love of all Final Fantasy games for the next ten years at least.  It's just a shame that the last half-decent "Final Fantasy" game that I played was "Final Fantasy X", and that game came out over a decade ago - well, unless you count the remastered version that was released for the PlayStation 3 a few months ago.  Any of the ones that have followed have been bland and boring.  I still get upset realizing how much time I spent playing "Final Fantasy XII" hoping that it would pick up and get better only for it to be one gigantic epic fail.

Thank goodness I can download some of the older "Final Fantasy" games on my iPad.

Anyway, role playing games were all the rage in 1984, when today's feature film was released.  Now, granted, the video game console industry hadn't quite exploded in popularity, as the NES - which revolutionized the video cartridge - wasn't released in North America until 1985.  However, role playing games were still very popular.  Instead of playing electronic games, people used pads of paper, pencils, game boards, and in some cases, action figures.  After all, "Dungeons and Dragons" was just as incredibly popular as "Cabbage Patch Kids" and "Transformers" back in the early to mid 1980s.  Seriously, just Google search "Dungeons and Dragons" and see just how much of a craze it really was! 

Today's film is linked to one of these fantasy role playing games.  In it, a young boy develops a love for the game to fill the void of having no mother and a father who is too busy with work to spend any time with him.  Little did he know that his love of the game would trigger an event that puts him right in the middle of a real life adventure where he is entrusted with a valuable object that could be catastrophic if it ever fell in the wrong hands.

It's a movie that is called "Cloak & Dagger", and it starred Dabney Coleman and Henry Thomas (yes, the same boy who played Elliot on "E.T.").  Released in theatres on July 13, 1984, the Richard Franklin directed film made almost ten million dollars at the box office, and received fair to positive reviews.  I would agree that the film is a pleasant surprise on this compilation, and I enjoyed watching it.

I promise I won't go overboard on the plot summary for this movie, because I don't want to reveal the ending, and because I really want to have all of you check out this movie because it really is a lot of fun.

Okay, so as I explained a few paragraphs above, "Cloak & Dagger" is a movie which features a young boy named Davey Osborne (Thomas) who is trying to adjust to life in San Antonio, Texas.  But it is not easy for him.  His mother has recently passed away and his father Hal (Coleman) is so preoccupied with his job that Davey isn't getting much attention from him at all.

The only solace that Davey gets is by playing the fantasy role playing game "Cloak & Dagger", a spy game which exists on two different formats - role playing and video game.

Because he is so preoccupied with the game, he doesn't leave much room for friendships.  In fact, his only two friends in the world are a young girl named Kim (Christina Nigra), and a man named Jack Flack - who happens to be an imaginary friend.  Truth is that Jack Flack happens to be the main protagonist of Cloak & Dagger, and Davey imagines Jack to be just like his father - only a more interesting version.

NOTE:  Jack Flack is also played by Dabney Coleman.

So, the movie starts off innocently enough, with both Davey and Kim hanging out at the mall's video game store.  Both of the kids are asked by the store owner to run an errand for him, and while they are doing this errand, Davey happens to bear witness to a brutal killing.  Davey, not knowing what to do, approaches the victim who hands him a copy of an Atari 5200 video game cartridge with the Cloak & Dagger label on it, informing him that the video game cartridge actually holds top-secret military information.  Information that could cause the United States a lot of trouble if it ever fell into enemy hands. pressure for an eleven-year-old child, huh?

Of course, Davey immediately takes the game cartridge to the police station, but honestly if you were a police officer and a child came up to you and said that a video game held top secret information, would you believe them? 

So, this leads to a group of spies headed by the nefarious Dr. Rice (Michael Murphy) to pursue a frightened Davey around the city of San Antonio, wanting to get their hands on the game at all costs.  And naturally, Jack Flack pops into Davey's life to try and protect him from danger.  But when his real friends find themselves in trouble, and Jack Flack constantly steers Davey into making some poor choices, Davey must decide if Jack is still the hero that he believed him to be, or whether he is tethered to him, holding him back from expressing his true feelings.

I'll leave it at that while you enjoy some trivia about the movie.

1 - Much of the movie was filmed mostly in San Antonio, Texas - Henry Thomas' home town.

2 - Contrary to what the game depicted, there is no such game as Cloak & Dagger for the Atari 5200.  However, an arcade version was manufactured.

3 - John McIntire and Jeanette Nolan - who played an elderly couple in the movie - were husband and wife in real life.

4 - Christina Nigra would later star as Evie's best friend on the sitcom "Out of This World".

5 - The Gamekeeper store that you see in the film really did exist.  It was a store located in the Glendale Galleria in Glendale, California.

6 - Because the Cloak & Dagger game wasn't officially released on consoles, the film simply plastered labels on pre-existing Atari 5200 games.

7 - Dabney Coleman may have gotten along with his co-stars, but he reportedly feuded with director Richard Franklin while the film was being shot.

8 - Originally, this film was released as a double-bill alongside 1984's "The Last Starfighter".  It was given its own opening a month later on August 10, 1984.

9 - Though this film shares the same espionage theme as the 1946 film of the same name, the 1984 version is not a remake of that film.

10 - This was the only family film directed by Richard Franklin.  Other films he made before his death in 2007 included sequels to "Psycho" and "F/X", as well as "Hotel Sorrento" and "Brilliant Lies".

And so wraps up another film.  Seven down, three to go.  And coming up next week, we take a look at what happens when a rock and roll musician inherits an entire kingdom!

No comments:

Post a Comment