Rush (2013) vs. Grand Prix (1966)

September 26, 2013 Bob Nowotny

If there’s anything more viscerally exciting than watching Formula 1 auto racing, it’s got to be seeing a great movie about Formula 1 auto racing. The thrill of victory, the agony of premature hearing loss – it’s all there, along with the life-threatening danger, the prestige, and the beautiful women lurking like speed-bumps behind every hairpin turn.

Trouble is, making a great film on this subject is an extremely challenging enterprise. For one thing, F1 is relatively unknown in the United States. There have been very few American drivers, and all of the exotic, outrageously expensive cars are made overseas. For decades, the gold standard for auto racing films was set by visionary director John Frankenheimer’s Grand Prix, which follows a fictional set of characters during the 1967 F1 season and which thrust James Garner’s impressive early career to an even higher level.

With the maturation of computer graphics and the changing economics of the movie business, which depends more and more on overseas box office, director Ron Howard’s Rush is poised to challenge Grand Prix’s 45-year lead on the Smackdown track. Can Howard’s brand new, true story Rush score the victory? Or does James Garner’s fictional battle for the F1 Championship still have the winning formula?
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Straw Dogs (2011) -vs- Walking Tall (2004)

September 15, 2011 Eric Volkman

The gloomy 1970s were a good time for dark, bloody, man-against-tall-odds dramas. Two of the more successful movies in this genre were Phil Karlson’s cult classic Walking Tall and Sam Peckinpah’s controversial (at the time, anyway) Straw Dogs. Now that we live in the Age of the Remake, over the last few years we’ve inevitably gotten shiny new versions of both.

The two films feature loner protagonists, overmatched against hostile forces much better equipped to prevail in a fight. In the case of Walking Tall, Iraqi war vet Chris Vaughn (Dwayne Johnson, or “The Rock” to fans of his pro wrestling career) squares off against an evil casino owner and the minions he’s been able to corrupt with his money. Meanwhile, nerdy Straw Dogs protagonist David Sumner (James Marsden) has to contend with a pack of violent rednecks including both Alexander Skarsgard (Zoolander, TV’s True Blood) and the ever-volatile James Woods, either of whom would be a scary opponent all by himself. […]