It's pretty bad - but it's one of those movies you watch anyway....
Without actually giving away my age, I saw this for the first time over 20 years ago when it first came out on video (maybe it was a beta tape??) and I was old enough to drink (barely) and perhaps I had had a few because I remember thinking how great this movie was! I have since seen it sober and have to admit it is a pretty bad film. As mentioned in other posts the plot is absolutely ridiculous and the poor acting just makes it worse. It's a poor attempt to fantasize that teenagers too, can be "Mavericks" (although I am surprised to find out it actually was to be released the same time (aprox) as "Top Gun", and not actually meant to be a poor imitation.) But for all it's worth - I do find myself watching it if it's on and I have the time. It's one of those movies you watch because it's just so ridiculous and tries so desperately to take itself seriously. Like that other "great' film - "Moment by Moment" with John Travolta and Lily Tomlin....don't get me started on that one!
This was a fabulous movie - Farrah Fawcett was superb as the spoiled, tormented Joan, Andy Griffith personified the character of a rich oil-man who always got his way, and Sam Elliott is simply so sinister it's gives you goosebumps!! I've seen the movie a few times, but as with any movie taken from a book (be it Ann Kurth's or otherwise) it can never capture all the details that the real story possesses. I have read "Blood and Money" by Tommy Thompson, and it is a captivating read - you seriously can't put it down! If you have seen the movie, you MUST read the book - it will give you so much more insight into the characters. I do not recommend reading the book before watching the movie, as it (the movie) will appear as a let down, and yet it really is a great movie. Watch it first, then read Tommy Thompson's book - in that order - and it will fill in all the blanks.
Hard to believe this movie is over 20 years old!! To me, it's really timeless, and a must see. The biggest "perk" of all, is that I live in "Hamlin", actually Sierra Madre, CA, the city this was filmed in, and it has barely changed in the 20 years since the movie was filmed (Sierra Madre hasn't changed much in the 35 years my family has lived there) The overwhelming "reality" of it all is what really hits home, because it's not a science fiction version of what a nuclear attack would be like, it's the way it would effect real people, living real lives, going about their real existence. Lives interrupted in a way that's so frightening - subtly, slowly, yet devastating from the beginning. If it's the harshness of the towns people fighting over food and batteries and gasoline to the gentleness of the mother not really knowing how to answer the simple questions of her five year old - why does the milk taste funny? When is our refrigerator getting fixed? When is Dad coming home? Every moment of this film just grips your heart! I cry every time I see it! A small bit of trivia - Sierra Madre was also the location of the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". Notice the scene is "Testament" where the battery-trading station is - that is Kersting Court, which is the same place the trucks pulled up with the "pods" in "Body Snatchers"