About Bryce Zabel
Drawing inspiration from career experiences as a CNN correspondent, TV Academy chairman, creator of five produced primetime network TV series, and fast-food frycook, Bryce is the Editor-in-Chief of "Movie Smackdown." While he freely admits to having written the screenplay for the reviewer-savaged "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," he hopes the fact that he also won the Writers Guild award a couple of years ago will cause you to cut him some slack. That, plus the fact that he has a new StudioCanal produced feature film, “The Last Battle,” shooting this summer in Europe about the end of World War II. He's also a member of the Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and a past enthusiast of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. His new what-if book series, “Breakpoint,” just won the prestigious Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and has so far tackled JFK not being assassinated and The Beatles staying together.

The Walking Dead (AMC) vs. Falling Skies (TNT)

March 7, 2012 Bryce Zabel

There’s just something about ragtag teams of extended families trying to get by after an apocalypse. It feels like a particularly American fantasy — that when the chips are down, we’ll all put aside our petty differences, realize what’s truly important and come together to kick some ass, whether it be Nazi or Commie or even alien or zombie. The point is that our melting pot really doesn’t get cooking until the heat is applied and the burner’s on high.

These two series are flagship action pieces for their respective networks — The Walking Dead came first on AMC, followed within a year by Falling Skies on TNT. The former has its second season finale this Sunday and the latter comes back this summer for its sophomore year. Both are in their prime when it comes to the life of any TV series — enough of a run to fix some early mistakes but not so much as to render the week-to-week predictable. […]

Dark Skies vs. Dark Skies

March 1, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Our “Dark Skies” has established itself in the minds of a significant number of science fiction fans as a gripping piece of conspiracy drama set in the world of UFOs and abductions. It anchored NBC’s Saturday night “Thrillogy” concept in the 1996 season premiere and starred Eric Close (“Nashville”) and the late film character actor J.T. Walsh (“Sling Blade”). Its main title design won the Emmy award and its pilot screenplay received a Writers Guild nomination. The Syfy Channel aired the entire series multiple times. Since 2010 there’s been a Facebook page where thousands of fans from many different countries push Sony for a TV revival. […]

Title Fight Preview >> July 2012 >> Batman versus Spider-Man

February 27, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Initially, fans seem to be anxiously anticipating every frame of The Dark Knight Rises while lamenting the need for such a fast re-boot of The Amazing Spider-Man. But with every new trailer tease for Spidey it seems less-and-less like the Sam Raimi version, no matter how well-regarded, from 2002. Andrew Garfield, we think, will eventually be seen as a more faithful version of Peter Parker than Tobey Maguire ever was and that may make a big difference.

It’s probably a good bet that both films are going to be seen by almost everyone eventually but it may turn out that The Dark Knight Rises will be the one that gets the most “must-see-now” box office. […]

We’ve Pre-Smacked All the Oscar Noms Just for You!

February 22, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Because we are diligent culture-watchers operating here at The Smack, we come to this day well-prepared. We’ve had each of the nominated “Best Picture” films in the Smack ring already. Not all of the films below even won their Smacks, but we’re not telling which ones. 😉

This offers us the chance, here in this single post, to create a gateway for you to lots of fresh writing, keen observation and (of course) a general lack of respect for authority, cinematic or otherwise. It gives me a chance to brag about the talent of Art Tiersky, Eric Volkman, Nicole Marchesani, Mark Sanchez, Rebecca Coffindaffer and Ben Silverio; their work is all available below. The really great artwork below and above is all from Lynda Karr. […]

Albert Nobbs: A Cross-Dressing Downton Abbey

February 14, 2012 Bryce Zabel

The film Albert Nobbs — a cross-dressing version of Downton Abbey — features Glenn Close dressed as a man the entire movie. She plays the title character, a 19th-century Dublin woman who passes as a man so she can work as a waiter. I’ll bet confused waiters all over the world are racing off to check the movie listings even as we speak.

The look is so bizarre that my daughter who attended the screening with me expressed her fear after the film that she’s going to have nightmares about the character. But the voting members of the film Academy gave Close an Oscar nomination. . […]

The Oscar as the Ultimate Smackdown

January 30, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Despite the major studios’ insistence on making primarily mega-budget, tent-pole, comic-book, sequel-remake, monster-alien-scifi films as their bread-and-butter, challenging and compelling original films do get made every year through alternative means. And, despite the harping and complaining we all do, there always seems to be a great crop that bridge the divide and are worth saluting. Those are the kinds of films that the Academy Awards gravitate to as their nominees. […]

The Return of the Kings: Gervais-Crystal Smackdown

January 13, 2012 Bryce Zabel

In our Hollywood family, Billy Crystal, in contrast to Ricky Gervais, is the really funny older brother or family friend who tells great stories, knows a couple of magic tricks for the kids, can lead with “Happy Birthday” or “Hava Nagila” when called upon and, when the kids are out of earshot, is renowned for his annual telling of some off-color joke that is perfectly calibrated to shock but not really offend anyone. You know he won’t cross the line, really, because he’s a good guest — he’s come to the last eight dinners and each one was a warm memory, even if you can’t quite remember one from the other. They all kind of blend together but he’s so nice and, besides, he’ll show up even if you ask him late because that cute guy from the office can’t make it after all. He’s Jay Leno-safe, except that he can also sing and dance. […]

In Praise of… 50/50

January 11, 2012 Bryce Zabel

50/50 deserves every bit as much Oscar love as The Descendants which is going to get its share. Both films are about dealing with terrible news and living through those stages of grief and 50/50 more than holds its own in that comparison.

Instead Academy members will probably see 50/50 as a diversion for people in their 20s, as light and comedic, and as another Seth Rogen getting stoned kind of movie. Well, it is actually those things within its frames, but it is so much more. […]

Smacktalk Comix

November 15, 2011 Bryce Zabel

You know that here at The Smack we’re all about looking at movies through different filters. You’ve got your basic […]

1 2 3 4 5 20