March Madness 2023: WWIII Movies Tournament: Round Two, Blue And Gold Brackets

Second Round: Blue Bracket

1 Threads

4 When The Wind Blows

These films have much in common, from subject matter to the relatively close proximity of their release dates. Threads and Wind both came out at points in the 1980s when the Cold War appeared close to boiling over and were staunch anti-war films. However, once you compare the two movies side-by-side their similarities seem more coincidental than anything else. At its core, Threads is more than a graphic anti-war movie/cautionary tale. Threads also tells the tale of two families and their journeys from peacetime through nuclear attack and then into the post-attack period. This movie made a lasting impression on scores of Britons and added momentum to the anti-nuclear movement at the time.  Wind, on the other hand, appears as a depressing look at a rather pleasant but ignorant elderly British couple coping with a deteriorating international crisis followed by a nuclear war. Poor Jim Bloggs and his wife are dreadfully unaware of the realities of war in the 1980s and treat the coming war as if it will be a repeat of World War II more or less. A noble effort, yet to be honest, Wind did not come near having the impact that Threads did on the British population. 

2 Countdown To Looking Glass

3 On The Beach

Unique matchup here between one film looking exclusively at the build up to war while the other examines the final days of life on earth following a global nuclear war. Countdown tells the story of a rapidly escalating crisis in the Persian Gulf exclusively from the eyes of the fictional CVN news networks anchorman and reporters. The movie was produced by a Canadian company and released by HBO in 1984. The anti-war angle is strikingly apparent from beginning to end. On The Beach is a legitimate Hollywood movie based on Neville Shute’s classic novel of the same name. It follows a number of characters as they live their final weeks in southern Australia as radiation approaches slowly but imminently from the north. As it becomes clear there is no way to delay the radiation, and most of the world is already covered by it, the American and Australian characters start coming to terms with their inevitable deaths and deal with it in their own ways. A powerful and emotional movie that continues to attract new fans even today.

Winner: On The Beach

Second Round: Gold Bracket

1 The Wargame

5 Miracle Mile

Miracle Mile is a dark comedy revolving around a man’s attempt to find his girlfriend and leave Los Angeles before the city is struck with nuclear weapons. It holds up well against similar films, however, when compared to a true WWIII film, Miracle Mile shrinks in comparison. The Wargame is a tried-and-true WWIII movie that causes the viewer to stop and think. Miracle Mile simply entertains without really providing a platform for a specific side in the nuclear weapons debate. And as with all dark comedies, Miracle Mile is not for everyone.

Winner: The Wargame

2 By Dawn’s Early Light

3 Crimson Tide

Similar issue with this matchup. By Dawn’s is a WWIII movie in every way, while Crimson Tide is a pure action thriller with the threat of a nuclear war dangling overhead. Having said this, Crimson is the better movie of the two, with an excellent script and superior cast. Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington play the roles of commanding officer and XO of the USS Alabama in the midst of a major international crisis. The supporting cast is made up of some young up and coming actors of the time like James Gandolfini and Vigo Mortensen. I mean, if I’m going to sit down with the missus and watch a flick, Crimson Tide is a movie I would consider. By Dawn’s Early Light is one of those movies I watch with friends or solo. Powers Boothe and Rebecca De Mornay are good enough as B-52 pilots and James Earl Jones gives a memorable performance, and the movie is all about a limited nuclear exchange and trying to prevent it from leading to a full thermonuclear war.

Winner: By Dawn’s Early Light


8 Replies to “March Madness 2023: WWIII Movies Tournament: Round Two, Blue And Gold Brackets”

  1. By Dawn’s Early Light was OK as a movie but the book upon which it was based “Trinity’s Child” really affected me reading it as a teen in the 80s. It’s a pre-Clancy technothriller that mainly focuses on a B-52 crew flying nuclear strike against the USSR after a Russian first strike. The story’s underlying theme is that once strategic nuclear weapons are used, things quickly spiral out of control, the idea of actually controlling and organizing strategic nuclear warfare being a dangerous dream. Not saying it was right, but the fictional plot argued its case very well. Also featured a great example of a woman flying combat (Rebecca De Mornay’s character). As for the movie, look: you got nuclear weapons AND Rebecca de Mornay. If that combination doesn’t excite you, then you’re probably beyond help!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I saw the movie before I read the book. That kind of led me to prefer the movie because I liked the plot a bit better. My biggest complaint about the book is the style it was written in. Far too literary in some chapters. I get that it was Prochnau style and it was released before technothrillers really took off. But still, I could never get behind it fully.

      Speaking of getting behind something (one) Rebecca De Mornay is still at the top of my list 🙂


    1. A remake could still be done showing that tensions are high and some bombers went back on alert. They still practice MITOs, though no longer stand 24 hour alert

      Liked by 1 person

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