Surrounded by Enemies: What if Kennedy Survived Dallas? (2013) vs. 11/22/63: A Novel (2012)

October 18, 2013 Alan Caldwell

The date is indelibly etched in the memories of everyone who was alive then: 11/22/63. Until 9/11, it was the most shocking, tragic, unimaginably ghastly national event we had witnessed. In the half-century since, what Boomer hasn’t wondered how the Sixties might have improved if President Kennedy’d had the opportunity to complete two terms in office, and not just 1000 days. Sure, we still got the Beatles and the Apollo mission, and on LBJ’s watch the Civil Rights movement blossomed, but then we got mired in Vietnam and Watergate and even more, horrid assassinations.

The assassination also produced a cottage-industry of JFK-themed films and books, ranging from memoirs to analyses of his life and legacy, but by far the most prevalent have been those that (like Oliver Stone’s JFK) have questioned the Warren Commission’s report, which concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Many of these works also speculate about JFK’s second administration and how it would have changed history.

For this special, bonus-edition Smackdown, we’ve got heavyweight champion Stephen King going mano-a-mano with none other than Señor Smackdown himself, Bryce Zabel. What makes this pairing especially juicy is that, though both contenders are no strangers to producing award-winning popular film/TV entertainment — a remake of King’s Carrie, based on his debut novel, is once again rattling theatergoers — we’re taking a rare detour into the universe of literature. […]

John Kennedy vs. The Conspirators

July 10, 2013 Eric Estrin

What really would have happened next if John Kennedy survived the ambush at Dealey Plaza?

That’s the intriguing premise of this ambitiously researched novel by award-winning TV writer/producer Bryce Zabel, who just happens to be the publisher of Movie Smackdown. In his new book out soon, Surrounded by Enemies: What If Kennedy Survived Dallas?, Bryce boldly reimagines a post-1963 political scenario that focuses on what we now know about the secrets of the Kennedy presidency in a way that shocks readers without resorting to sci-fi gimmicks. […]

Men of Steel (Smackdown’s Superman Smashup)

January 9, 2013 Movie Smackdown

If you count Christopher Reeve (ignoring the earlier Kirk Alyn “Superman”) as the original fully-realized film Superman in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie”, that makes Brandon Routh’s 2006 “Superman Returns” the reboot and 2013’s “Man of Steel” the reboot of the reboot.

But don’t forget the TV Supermans: George Reeves from “Adventures of Superman” to John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher in “Superboy” to Dean Cain in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” to Tom Welling in “Smallville.”

Our latest Smashup pays tribute to the reality that we’re almost getting to the point where as many actors have played Superman/Clark Kent as have played Hamlet. […]

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) -vs- The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

July 19, 2012 Bryce Zabel

We’ve know it’s coming all year — a super heavyweight championship — and now it’s finally here in the beat-down heat of summer.

Fresh off the super-fan orgy at San Diego Comic-Con, we have the Sony 3D reboot of The Amazing Spider-Man against the third and final installment of Warner Bros.’ The Dark Knight Rises (July 20).

It’s Ali and Frazier. Well, technically, it’s DC and Marvel and Sony and Warner Bros. Oh, and Batman and Spider-Man.

These two awesome franchises — both successful with critics and hugely so at the box office — mean to fight it out in the cool, air-conditioned movie palaces of our globally warmed summer. […]

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) -vs- Spider-Man (2002)

June 29, 2012 Bryce Zabel

What a difference a decade makes. Why, in that period of time, it’s possible to forget you’ve ever seen a specific movie, almost like it never existed.

Well, no, it’s not like that all, of course. Those of us over the age of thirteen do clearly remember the blockbuster films we saw just ten years ago. The question Columbia Pictures seems to be asking with the release of The Amazing Spider-Man is whether or not it matters. […]

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. […]

THE AVENGERS: Assembling a New Classic?

October 11, 2011 Bryce Zabel

After carefully setting them all up with their own movies, Marvel now brings all their dashing superguys together into the greatest superhero group of all time with Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and, for good measure, the token woman Black Widow and the archer who’s never quite gotten out of the Marvel second tier, Hawkeye. […]

THE BIG YEAR: Another Movie That’s for the Birds

October 8, 2011 Movie Smackdown

The Big Year takes place in the world of competitive bird watching. Most of us, of course, have no clue whatsoever that there even is a world of competitive bird watching. You should know this film is a comedy, starring Steve Martin, Jack Black and Owen Wilson.

It’s loosely built around Mark Obmascik’s award-winning 2004 nonfiction book about 1988’s The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession. Again, we’re not kidding, this is a yearly competition where “birders” or bird enthusiasts travel North America and the prize goes to the person who spots the most rare birds. You should also know that Owen Wilson plays the record-holding champion. […]

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