Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012) -vs- Time After Time (1979)

June 21, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Did you know that the Civil War was not merely the North fighting the South over the slavery issue, but that the Confederacy was actually an uprising of vampires, of whom Abraham Lincoln was actually a trained hunter? Or that H.G. Wells, author of The Time Machine, actually invented his very own such machine that enabled him to fight crime a century into the future? Or that George W. Bush is actually the reincarnation of a traitor beheaded by King Joffrey of the House of Lannister? […]

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. […]

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. […]

Apollo 18 (2011) -vs- Apollo 13 (1995)

September 1, 2011 Bryce Zabel

Probably the only good way to look at NASA these days is in the rear-view mirror of past accomplishments, given that the agency seems to have lost its way. After all, it’s ended the manned space missions of the Space Shuttle program with no clear replacement in site. There is no grand new mission, like going to Mars, just the past-tense glory days of going to the Moon.

But before we get too nostalgic here, we have a Smackdown to remind us that space is not always a triumph. Sometimes that cold vacuum of nothing can force a human to look straight in the eye of death. And, as Elton John reminded us in Rocket Man, “It’s lonely out in space.”

The new Apollo 18 is a fictional story about a manned space mission to the moon that you never heard about. NASA officially pulled the plug on Apollo after 17 missions. So this one is right out there in conspiracy theory heaven. And the other film, Apollo 13, is about the NASA’s greatest near miss with disaster that could easily have landed the astronauts involved into the history books with the crews of the Challenger and Columbia or the doomed Apollo 1 mission. […]

Hereafter (2010) -vs- The Sixth Sense (1999)

October 23, 2010 Mark Sanchez

I don’t think about dying as often as, say, Woody Allen, but I think about it often enough. Mostly I think I am not in favor of it. On the other hand, considering the differences of opinion about what happens after this part of life is over, maybe the Big Black Void would be okay.

Our two films both have considerably different takes on the afterlife. To say the least. But, like all films in this genre, it’s not what they’re saying about what comes next that’s the big deal, it’s what they’re saying about the here and now.

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, Hereafter, ventures through that thin membrane separating the living from the dead. Director M. Night Shyamalan staked out a notable career in this territory, most notably with 1999’s well regarded The Sixth Sense. That’s our Smackdown: If dead people can communicate with us, what are they saying about these movies? […]

Takers (2010) -vs- The Expendables (2010)

August 27, 2010 Mark Sanchez

Coming back to the Smack is always a pleasure — sometimes eye opening, often inspiring. So what do I get now upon my latest return match? The summer rot. Juvenile comedies, more people biting my neck, or killing me some other way. In a way, it’s like I never left. Two summer action releases prove my point. Takers just opened, showing there’s no honor among thieves but yes, a sense of fashion. And very messy. It’s bound to do strong business in this summer’s soft box office. The Expendables arrived earlier with lots of advance word about its well-known, if not well-acting, cast of movie tough guys. Both films are what they are, without apology or distinction. It presents a different kind of Smackdown: Are these movie retreads worth leaving the house? […]

Inception (2010) -vs- The Dark Knight (2008)

July 16, 2010 Beau DeMayo

Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight. That’s all about you need to know when it comes to how Inception has been marketed, a film whose title could easily be mistaken as “From The Director of The Dark Knight” as its actual title.

Inception and The Dark Knight are two movies that are so radically different, yet so fundamentally the same. Both films strive to do something radically different with their genres, turning the typical tropes on their heads and challenging audiences to keep up.

Now we put what many consider to already be Nolan’s masterpiece up against his newest film. Another masterpiece or just another movie? […]

The Most Popular Movie President of All-Time Is…

May 11, 2010 Bryce Zabel

It was Ford in a landslide. Nope, not Ford as in Gerald who lost to Jimmy Carter, but Ford as in Harrison who walked away with our Movie Smackdown presidential poll, taking 26.4% of the votes in a ten-man race.

Ford played President James Marshall in the 1997 film, “Air Force One.” Marshall has just gone to Moscow where he’s told the entire world he will not negotiate with terrorists. Then, on the flight home, Russian neo-nationalists hijack Air Force One forcing an ugly decision on Marshall: give in to terrorist demands or sacrifice not only the country’s dignity, but the lives of his wife and daughter. Well, there is one thing in his favor. He’s a military guy, a winner of the Medal of Honor, and he’s going to fight back.

Apparently we liked this version of the Marshall Plan a lot because when given ten of the top performances by an actor as a president to choose from, our Movie Smackdown voters gave a clear and convincing mandate to Harrison Ford. Here’s our results:
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