Mirror Mirror (2012) -vs- Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1998)

March 30, 2012 Eric Volkman

Which is the fairest movie review site of them all? We at Movie Smackdown like to think it’s ours, and to further our conviction, we’re bringing you a contest between two modern live-action versions of classic fairy tales. Mirror Mirror is a light-hearted adaptation of the Snow White story, with Julia Roberts as the evil Queen making a concentrated attempt to keep the pretty Snow (Lily Collins) a virtual prisoner in her family’s castle. […]

Mike’s Turn: “I Just Don’t Get This ‘Mad Men’ Thing”

March 27, 2012 Movie Smackdown

I saw the scene where Jessica Pare sang Zoo-be-zoo-be-do or whatever that song was in the Season Five two-hour that everybody’s talking about. Sure, she looked straight-up awesome cleaning Draper’s apartment in her little black panties, but is that enough to make people watch a show? (By the way, this is not sour grapes. I love Jonny Hamm, and he deserves all the action he gets, both onscreen and off. We former bartenders always stick together — which is why he even helped me get my SAG card, thank you, Hamm-bone, and CSI Miami!) […]

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (2011) -vs- A River Runs Through It (1992)

March 26, 2012 Mitch Paradise

Books and movies have often used bodies of water and the creatures that live in them as full, rich metaphors, evoking man’s struggle to find meaning amid life’s shifting tides (Alert: the first of many body-of-water metaphors!). The examples in high culture are endless: Moby Dick, The Secret of Roan Inish, SpongeBob SquarePants… Here are two movies that carry on the tradition: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, a Lasse Hallstrom-helmed, Simon Beaufoy-penned romantic dramedy, has made a splash in the indie world by dramatizing the Sisyphean task of introducing salmon fishing to a desert country best known today as the headquarters of Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula. It’s opponent is A River Runs Through It, a lyrical film based on Norman McClean’s semi-autobiographical novel that follows the maturation of two brothers struggling to create individual and conflicting identities under the watchful eye of their minister father. Set in the wild and verdant glory of rural Montana, everything about it is as precious as your grandmother’s wedding rings. […]

Breaking Bad (AMC) -vs- Weeds (Showtime)

March 25, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

When tragedy strikes, what’s a mild-mannered suburban parent to do to support the family but dive headfirst into the illegal drug business? That’s the question posed by two controversial and critically lauded TV series, Showtime’s long-running, half-serious comedy Weeds, and AMC’s hour-long, half-funny drama Breaking Bad, whose legion of fans currently awaits its fifth and presumably final season. […]

The Hunger Games (2012) -vs- The Running Man (1987)

March 23, 2012 Nicole Marchesani

President Snow (Donald Sutherland) shares his philosophy in this weekend’s blockbuster film, The Hunger Games, “The only thing stronger than fear is hope.” He and his kind have built their dystopia on this theory: if the people they subjugate don’t have a way to cope, they could get violent. Better to give them some pre-packaged violence and distract them.

The odds are stacked heavily against both Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games and Ben Richards of The Running Man to win in their own futuristic sporting arenas. But they are motivated to try, each having not just their own lives but the lives of the people they love at stake. While millions of people watch, they suffer and struggle to make it to the end. The only thing keeping them going is hope.

It seems harsh to subject these characters to another bloody arena, but as the films prove, audiences love a good fight. We can’t lie. So do we. […]

40th Anniversary Smack: The Godfather (1972) -vs- The Godfather, Part II (1974)

March 19, 2012 Bryce Zabel

The Godfather @ 40. Imagine.

A few years ago when they came out with “The Coppola Restoration” of the film trilogy on Bluray, many people took the chance to re-watch at least the first two installments and fall in love again. Now the national news media is telling us that the four decades passage means we have to do it again. Normally I just hate the media telling me to do anything — and usually struggle to do the opposite — but this one is an exception. […]

21 Jump Street (2012) -vs- The Other Guys (2010)

March 15, 2012 Eric Volkman

We’ll need a lot of ring space for this Smackdown, as it’ll be an energetic tag-team bout. Facing off will be two cop buddy comedies: In the new corner is 21 Jump Street, a very loose adaptation of the 1980s TV show about young undercovers, best remembered for introducing Johnny Depp to most of the world. Its opponent is The Other Guys, which follows the adventures of two police desk jockeys, looking to rebrand themselves as they get involved in a high-stakes fraud case. […]

The Wind that Shakes the Barley (2007) vs. Michael Collins (1996)

March 13, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Every St. Patrick’s Day, people worldwide celebrate the Irish by wearing shamrocks, marching in parades, even drinking green beer. It can be a ton of fun, to be sure, but the Ireland of fairly recent history was a very serious place where political battles were decided in revolution and civil war. Our Irish Movie Smackdown pays tribute to those days by putting a couple of films in the ring together that tell the story. These two classic films of Irish-rebellion — The Wind That Shakes the Barley and Michael Collins — were made a decade apart. Back in the Clinton years, Liam Neeson starred in the title role as Irish rebel turned Free Stater, Michael Collins, and a few days before St. Patrick’s Day in 2007, Cillian Murphy played a rebel on the other side of the bloody Irish Civil War in The Wind That Shakes the Barley. They each tell stories about the years when Irish eyes were definitely not smiling… […]

Jeff, Who Lives at Home (2011) -vs- I Love You, Man (2009)

March 12, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

You found him oddly endearing and admirably willing to completely embarrass himself on Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared. You didn’t even recognize him as the sleazy lothario Jason in Knocked Up. You thought he was just fine in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, though the movie was kind of flabby. You haven’t seen The Muppets yet, and you just plain don’t watch How I Met Your Mother. […]

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