We’re off to Britain for this Smackdown, and what’s more, we’re heading straight to the top of the ruling class. Facing off are the two prongs of the country’s administration—the government, as represented by imposing prime minister Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, and the monarchy in the more refined form of Elizabeth II, the title character in The Queen. […]
Leave it to Movie Smackdown to throw two mythical film beasts at each other. The Dragons in this tale are the mighty Scandinavian monsters that have dominated the world of fiction for nearly a decade. Metaphors aside, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the first in a series of three mystery novels by the late Swedish writer Stieg Larsson. […]
UPDATE – JANUARY 3, 2012
MTV has backed off its use of “Movie Smackdown” after we made it clear that it was our trademarked name through this post and by official means. They have changed the name of their tournament competition to “Movie Brawl.” Still not sure how they could have let this happen, but at least they’ve done the right thing when their mistake was pointed out to them. […]
What’s a spy to do when he knows what’s right and his government disagrees? His only option is to go rogue. Whether that spy is the urbane James Bond or the decidedly more American Ethan Hunt, the result is the same—action, action and more action. […]
Our contest is strictly confined to the animal kingdom in this edition of Movie Smackdown. The creatures competing in the bout are Joey, the title character of the Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse, and the small dog/cat gang on a wilderness trek in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. Despite the vastly different settings of the two (the trenches and no-man’s-land of World War I in the former and the California wilderness in Homeward), the two are both family friendly, featuring epic journeys aimed at reuniting beasts and masters. Hard work indeed, but the hardest is ahead—competing against each other in this Smackdown. […]
By my count, Sherlock Holmes appeared in no less than 69 films before this latest Robert Downey Jr. – Guy Ritchie incarnation. Even movie mainstays Godzilla (52 films) and James Bond (25 films) don’t come close to the sheer proliferation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous super-sleuth throughout cinema history. […]
I’d imagine a screenplay or a novel about grieving families of 9/11 victims must have been quite difficult and risky to write in the first few years following the attack. Now, having boldly faced the task of writing a snarky column comparing two movies about 9/11 grief, I can entirely sympathize with those intrepid, suffering screenwriters. Hell, someone had to write this Smackdown, and if I didn’t, who would? (A: Probably one of the other Smackers. There’s like a jillion of us now.) […]
Before Jeremy Piven’s Ari Gold, Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire embodied everything most of us know about big-time entertainment agents. They can be weaselly in their business dealings, but they must have a raccoon’s ingenuity mixed with the predatory skills of a tiger to fight for their clients’ interests. So what would happen if we put up one of these movie agents against a group of actual animals? […]
Here we are, deep into the holiday movie cycle, and Angelina Jolie has delivered a package no one expected to find under the tree. This is no animated confection about a swashbuckling kitty or some madcap variation on the fat man in red. Oh, no. […]
Tintin felt like a real missed opportunity.
When you create a world inside a computer, isn’t one of the advantages that you can do things that you can’t do with brick-and-mortar sets and flesh-and-blood actors? Tintin only really comes alive during a couple of gigantic set pieces—a chase through an Arab village, a duel with cargo cranes—that would have been prohibitively expensive to do pre-CGI. The rest of the time, it’s like we’re watching actors wearing too much foundation.
The plot itself is creaky, starting with a ridiculous coincidence, and lurching forward from there. But the real disappointment is that despite the intricate motion-capture used to create them on screen, the characters are all lifeless. What makes Indiana Jones so wonderful is the emotion that Harrison Ford illuminates him with—his delight, when he feels it (his reunion with Marion in Crystal Skull) is glowing and childlike, but most of the time he seems to face the world with something like resigned annoyance (“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”). It’s that personality that locks us into the character and the movie. […]