Monthly Archives: April 2011

Fast Five (2011) -vs- The Fast and the Furious (2001)

Fast Five -vs- The Fast and the Furious

More than a few film franchises seem like a trip to the drive-up burger joints: the payoff is predictable, not always very nourishing, but the experience can be fun, and you won’t leave hungry.

That recipe worked perfectly for The Fast and the Furious in 2001. The film didn’t promise steak, just a lot of sizzle, which clearly satisfied a broad segment of moviegoers. This motorized morality play (of a sort) mixes brooding, inarticulate characters tied to a supremely implausible story sprinkled with lots of attractive women and fast cars.

This menu spawned a series of films that grossed nearly a billion dollars worldwide. So, of course, Fast Five just opened. It expects to do large business because it does not stray far from the basic formula. Continue reading

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African Cats (2011) -vs- Oceans (2010)

African Cats -vs- Oceans

If Disney has learned anything over the years, it’s that lions are kings at the box office. So the House of Mouse has gone back to Africa this year to bring us a new documentary about the king of the beasts. But from a different point of view. Don’t expect to see any singing warthogs or meerkats. This is a true story of life on the Savannah.

A few years ago, The Walt Disney Company established a new film label called Disneynature — with a mission to distribute nature documentaries like the old “True-Life Adventures” back in the 1950s. In a stroke of marketing genius, they tied the film releases to coincide with Earth Day. The first, appropriately titled Earth, came out in 2009. The next year, they released Oceans. These films looked at our planet in a new way, and they examined our influence on our environment.

It has become a tradition with my family to celebrate Earth Day each year with an outing to the theater to see the latest Disneynature release. This year, we continued with African Cats, a film that examines the lives of the lions and cheetahs of the Kenyan wilderness. Continue reading

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The Conspirator (2011) -vs- JFK (1991)

The Conspirator -vs- JFK

Two presidents get assassinated, a hundred years apart. Both assassins (alleged, anyway) get killed before they can face trial, and they go down in history firmly attached to their middle names, John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald.

In these two films, the main characters are lawyers, drawn into the fray by a sense of justice, who end up arguing unpopular positions (at least to the powers-that-be) in court — the earlier film on offense, this latest film on defense. Both men pursue their out-of-step sense of justice to the extreme, so much so that the women in their lives think they’ve gone quite insane.

At the end of the day, both viewing experiences cause you to consider that maybe it’s not the courts that really decide the winners anyway, maybe it’s just the movies we make about them. Continue reading

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Source Code (2011) -vs- Deja Vu (2006)

Source Code -vs- Deja Vu

They say love overcomes all obstacles, but time seems to be one of the most difficult. Time and time travel seem made for romance. Maybe that’s because there is a more of a fantasy quality to it than strict science fiction. Finding two lovers who meet across time has been done before, but Hollywood loves to revisit this idea again and again.

This week, our challenger, Source Code, and our champion, Deja Vu, tackle the problem of finding love in the time continuum. In both cases, what starts out as a case of time-travel observation becomes something more of an obsession for the observer. Continue reading

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