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1983 Movie Reviews – Blue Thunder

by Sean P. Aune | May 13, 2023May 13, 2023 10:30 am EDT

Welcome to an exciting year-long project here at The Nerdy. 1983 was an exciting year for films giving us a lot of films that would go on to be beloved favorites and cult classics. It was also the start to a major shift in cultural and societal norms, and some of those still reverberate to this day.


We’re going to pick and choose which movies we hit, but right now the list stands at nearly four dozen.

Yes, we’re insane, but 1983 was that great of a year for film.

The articles will come out – in most cases – on the same day the films hit theaters in 1983 so that it is their true 40th anniversary. All films are also watched again for the purposes of these reviews and are not being done from memory. In some cases, it truly will be the first time we’ve seen them.

This time around, it’s May 6th, 1983, and we’re off to see The Final Terror and Doctor Detoit!

Quick side note: Since we launched this series this year, we’ve discovered that Vintage Video Podcast is doing the exact same project with two differences: First, it’s audio (naturally), and second, they are doing every major film. We’ve listened to numerous episodes and it’s fun checking off their thoughts against my own. Check them out over at Vintage Video Podcast.


Blue Thunder

If there’s one thing you can say about the early 1980s, it’s that we loved super vehicles. You had films such as Firefox, and television series like Knight Rider. And then, all of a sudden, we moved on to helicopters.

Blue Thunder ended up spawning a short-lived TV series of the same name, as well as inspiring Airwolf. (Don’t lie… the Airwolf theme is now stuck in your head.) But before all of that, the titular Blue Thunder was flying into movie theaters.

Lets be blunt, the plot is bog standard as they come. “Oh no, someone is going to abuse a super weapon and someone learns about the plan and tries to stop it!” Yes, yes, we’ve seen it a million times, even by this point in the 80s, but it can still work.

In this case, Vietnam vet Murphy (Roy Scheider) is a helicopter pilot for the LAPD and gets assigned to trial the newest crowd control chopper, codenamed “Blue Thunder.” Armed with sophisticated tech, and a 20mm chain gun, the LAPD hopes to have it operational for the 1984 Summer Olympics. But, Murphy discovers along the way the project’s real code name is T.H.O.R. (Tactical Helicopter Offensive Response), and that anyone who learns about this ends up dead.

What follows is a cat-and-mouse game of helicopters as Murphy attempts to get proof to the press, while also dodging Cochrane (Malcolm McDowell), with whom he served in Vietnam.

Other than some VERY dodgy effects involving a couple of jet fighters, the film is well-shot, tense, and keeps you engaged. A lot of this can be chalked up to director John Badham who also directed other 80s staples such as WarGames, Stakeout, Short Circuit, and more.

It’s not going to change your life, but it will certainly keep you entertained in the way you expect 80s action films to do.

1983 Movie Reviews will return on May 20, 2023 with Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone!

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Sean P. Aune

Sean Aune has been a pop culture aficionado since before there was even a term for pop culture. From the time his father brought home Amazing