The Bourne Legacy (2012) -vs- The Bourne Identity (2002)

August 9, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Rumpled bureaucrats stand around a cramped room, surrounded by state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, barking orders at the underlings and whispering tensely among themselves as they watch a muscular super-agent and his female companion out-gun, out-run, out-fight and out-think them at every turn.

Where else could we be but Bourne again? (Sorry.)

Yes, that’s right, the lucrative franchise, loosely adapted from Robert Ludlum’s novels, that closed out its initial trilogy with (the now inappropriately titled) Bourne Ultimatum (2006) is back. The hooks for The Bourne Legacy are a mostly new cast, including lead actor, the screenwriter of all four taking over directing chores as well, and that other than the occasional photo, there’s not an actual Bourne in sight. […]

Total Recall (2012) -vs- Total Recall (1990)

August 2, 2012 Eric Volkman

Welcome! Sit yourself in this chair and don’t worry when we strap your limbs down securely and tape electrodes to your head. There’s nothing to be worried about!

In the both of the Total Recalls we’ll be comparing in this review, a visit to such a patient’s seat launches a mind-bending sci-fi espionage adventure for the seemingly ordinary Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990 original, Colin Farrell in the just-released update). Both big-budget movies unspool roughly the same story and feature plenty of slam-bang action, a nightmare vision of a bleak future, and not a little violence. They also play with the idea of implanted memory. Can we really be sure we’re truly experiencing the here and now? […]

The Watch (2012) -vs- Ghostbusters (1984)

July 26, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Four buddies fend off an invasion of slimy, other-worldly creatures!

Yes, it’s been quite a while since Ghostbusters (1984) invented that recipe, so it’s about time that someone finally upda—

Wait… seriously? 1984? Twenty-eight years ago? Holy crap, I’m old.

Well, in any case, for those with fond memories of that great-granddaddy of big-budget, sci-fi comedies, and for all you teens and twenty-something youngsters out there who probably don’t even know what I’m talking about, we now have The Watch as an update on the formula, albeit with aliens instead of ghosts. That’s right, it’s our own little Monsters vs. Aliens Smackdown, and all we’re missing is Reese Witherspoon. (Seriously, I miss Reese Witherspoon. What the hell happened to her?) […]

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. […]

Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012) -vs- Ice Age (2002)

July 12, 2012 Joe Rassulo

In 2002, in the wake of Shrek and Monsters, Inc, 20th Century Fox launched what was soon to become one of its most successful children’s franchises, Ice Age. With few expectations and little fanfare, it became a surprise worldwide, animated hit, rivaling both those other films, if not in total box office, then certainly in audience loyalty. Its two subsequent sequels, Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006) and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) proved that unquestionably.

This week, Fox launches Installment 4, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and what was once a total surprise is now laden with great expectations. Unlike the original straight-ahead journey of our unlikely, but charming heroes, Manny (Ray Romano), Sid (John Leguizamo) and Diego (Denis Leary), along with the indomitable prehistoric squirrel, Scrat, and his acorn, audiences are hoping and expecting this new outing to be nothing less than extraordinary. […]

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. […]

Brave (2012) -vs- Mulan (1998)

June 21, 2012 Sarah Harding

Once upon a time, animated princess movies were populated by passive heroines waiting to be rescued by noble but bland princes. Disney has made strides toward addressing this anachronism, giving us, among other notable efforts, Mulan (1998), which features a different kind of female lead, one whose strength, cleverness and courage — not her looks or brawny boyfriend — save the day. Of course, the company has long relied on female protagonists of every stripe, dating back to its first animated feature, Snow White, and running the gamut through Bambi, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and on and on. Rival studio Pixar, on the other hand, has never featured a girl or woman in a lead role — until now. […]

Prometheus (2012) -vs- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

June 5, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Strange artifacts are left here on Earth beckoning inhabitants to come visit superior beings and/or ancient visitors, requiring a massive undertaking to build and dispatch a mighty state-of-the-art spacecraft on a long, dangerous journey with an A.I. on board to take care of its human crew. Director Stanley Kubrick swung for the fences with this set-up over four decades ago and now it’s Ridley Scott’s turn.

Let’s get one thing out of the way right now — 2001: A Space Odyssey is a true film classic. It deserves its praise, and it deserves to be seen in any good film school program. If you haven’t seen it, you should. […]

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) -vs- Mirror Mirror (2012)

June 1, 2012 Eric Volkman

What evil website would even dream of pitting the sweetly heroic Snow White against herself in a winner-take-all fight? Movie Smackdown, of course!

The beloved fairy tale figure with the dark hair and pale face is the lead character in two big Hollywood releases this year, Snow White and the Huntsman, opening this weekend, and Mirror, Mirror, which premiered back in March. Although both feature the broad outlines of the original story – evil queen, wrongful imprisonment, dark forest, seven dwarves, etc. – the two movies vary greatly in tone and approach. Huntsman goes the dramatic, big-budget route with monster attacks and a castle siege. Mirror, Mirror is a light comedy featuring Julia Roberts as the not-so-scary villainess requiring constant reassurance from the eponymous prop that she’s the fairest of them all. […]

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. […]

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