Chernobyl Diaries (2012) -vs- Paranormal Activity (2007)

May 25, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Overnight success Oren Peli is now a very busy man. Since writing and directing Paranormal Activity, the sleeper hit of 2009, he’s written and directed the upcoming Area 51, co-created a TV series (The River), produced or co-produced several features including two Paranormal sequels (a third is in development) and James Wan’s Insidious, and this week, we find him co-producing and sharing writing credit (with Carey and Shane Van Dyke) on the newly released The Chernobyl Diaries. To which one can only respond by asking: It took three people to write The Chernobyl Diaries? […]

Men in Black 3 (2012) -vs- Mars Attacks! (1996)

May 24, 2012 Eric Volkman

The earth is about to be destroyed! And the devastation will be funny and entertaining to watch, at least by Hollywood standards.

In this winner-take-all battle, we’re pitting two satirical world-on-the-brink-of-destruction films against each other. The new release is Men in Black 3 (or Men in Black III, depending on whether you believe the official Sony Pictures site or IMDB), the latest offering in the popular string of sci-fi comedies. This installment features the franchise’s first time-travel plot, with our protagonist vaulting backwards by several decades in order to save his partner from being murdered and, consequently (of course) earth from being destroyed. Mars Attacks! also harkens to the past. It’s a wild, Tim Burton spoof of cheesy 1950s alien invasion movies, featuring a giant cast trying nearly in vain to defend our planet from interstellar bad guys. […]

The Dictator (2012) -vs- You Don’t Mess with the Zohan (2008)

May 14, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Some movies take place in a world that we’ll call “comedy reality.” This is clearly not the real world, nor is it quite the anarchic spoof world of, say, Airplane! or Scary Movie, but it’s an unabashedly silly alternate reality — one in which a man can kick someone with both feet simultaneously, a fire can be doused with a hose full of hummus, and a cell phone can get left in a woman’s womb as she gives birth.

We come to you today from a different world, one of competitive film criticism, where two vaguely similar movies can wrestle each other for Smackdown supremacy! In today’s matchup, our opponents both feature beloved comedy stars playing arrogant and/or ruthless Middle Easterners who come to New York and are humbled and redeemed by hard work and a star-crossed romance. As everyone knows, you don’t mess with Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, but Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator is gonna give it a shot anyway… […]

Dark Shadows (2012) -vs- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)

May 10, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Can Barnabas suck the blood out of Buffy or can this tough vamp of a fighter slay the hell out of this unchained vampire? While that alone might be enough of a question to guide a Smackdown, this one gets complicated by history.

Dark Shadows, as people over fifty know, began as TV then became a film. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as people under thirty know, began as a film and became a TV series. The former, in theaters now, is a derivation of its former glory, while the latter is an inspired evolution of its big-screen glory. […]

The Avengers (2012) -vs- X-Men: First Class (2011)

May 2, 2012 Bryce Zabel

If one superpowered superhero can fuel a super-blockbuster (Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Batman, Superman, Captain America), just imagine what a half-dozen of them in the same movie can do.

A few years ago, Marvel Studios did just that. After giving movie-length origin stories to its key players, Marvel now brings all their power-hitters together into the ultimate superhero combo group — The Avengers. Imagine this group fighting not just evil but each other for screen time: Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man and a couple of second tier-types, the token hottie, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, the guy with the bow and some very fancy arrows. […]