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. […]

Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011) -vs- Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) -vs- Transformers (2007)

July 4, 2011 Rodney Twelftree

The ultimate Hollywood movie pitch would have gone something like this: let’s get some giant alien robots, who can change into a variety of cars, planes and other machines, bring their eon-long war to Earth. A young teenage boy befriends one of these robots, and assists the Autobots in their battle against Megatron and the Decepticons. Cue massive destruction and special effects. Sure, that’ll work! Michael Bay’s epic trilogy of transforming robotic lifeforms comes to a conclusion with 2011’s Dark of The Moon, the blow-out finale to what has been, effectively, a massive financial success for Paramount Pictures. In this Smackdown, take a look at each of the three films and see which one truly does deliver more than meets the eye!

Dark Of The Moon is the most recent Transformers movie to be released, and is by far the most accomplished in terms of production design and scale. The finale of Michael Bay’s involvement with the robotic saga comes to a blistering conclusion with the near-obliteration of Chicago, and the resolution of Sam’s isolation from his Autobot pals. Yes, Sam’s finished college, and is out in the workforce looking for a job – something he’s finding difficult while he’s living with the gorgeous replacement for Mikaela, Carly. He’s also a little angry at being frozen out of contact with Bumblebee and the Autobots, since their missions with the US military to locate and prevent Decepticons rising up once more has taken precedence over the young mans friendship. […]

Super 8 (2011) -vs- E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

June 10, 2011 Bryce Zabel

“Listen, guys, we got J.J. Abrams writing and directing a film about alien contact that Spielberg’s gonna help him produce. Who’s in?”

When the words were first uttered in Hollywood, there must have been a hush in the room. Now, with the sci-fi world ablaze with anticipation, Super 8 is ready for its own close-up.

In Summer 2011′s first big swing into science fiction, this Spielbergian team-up goes with a story of kids in small town America discovering something amazing. Our Challenger Super 8 is set in 1979, just a few years before the release our Defending Champion E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. Both films involve kids getting involved with aliens, cover-ups, and military diversions and suppressions.

And even though Steven Spielberg is on the team of this latest effort, over here at the Smack, it’s still personal. Two directors slugging it out. The brash new contender in J.J. Abrams and the wise, beloved champion in Spielberg. […]

Life After Contact

June 3, 2011 The FilmGuru

Starting in the ’60s, we began to meet the kind, benevolent aliens waiting to usher us into their interstellar version of the brotherhood of man in films like 2001: A Space Odyssey, Close Encounters, and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

The past couple of decades have brought the aggression closer to home with stories of alien abduction. Bordering on horror, films like Communion, Fire in the Sky, and The Fourth Kind suggest something sinister (or at least coldly detached and clinical) in these encounters.

And there have also been films like District 9 and Alien Nation that sought to use alien contact as a metaphor for immigration issues and the devaluation of the Other as a second-class citizen. […]

Alien Contact @ Movie Smackdown

May 29, 2011 Movie Smackdown

In the billions of stars, solar systems, and galaxies out there, our little planet is but a single speck of dust in the whirlwind of the universe. Probably, we are all starting to realize, we are not alone.

Hollywood got there earlier than the rest of us, and the film industry has told us stories of alien contact — what might happen if intelligent beings out there were to make contact with our suposedly primitive culture here on Earth — since the 1950s.

This week, Movie Smackdown! examines how alien contact is portrayed in cinema. Each day, we’ll pick another Smackdown from our Classix vault. From the brutal attack force of Independence Day to the benevolent space brothers of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, let your imagination soar as the extraterrestrial life of a crowded Hollywood universe comes calling here on Earth. […]

Avatar (2009) -vs- Dances with Wolves (1990)

December 21, 2009 Beau DeMayo

Allegorical movies are tough. On one hand, the social messages are essential to keeping cinema relevant and meaningful. Yet I always grow wary of a movie made for the sake of a message and not for the sake of entertaining audiences. The best way to judge that may be to measure Avatar against another film that it shares some themes with: Dances with Wolves.

Both films, for example, discuss imperialism against the epic backdrop of human emotion and struggle — only one does it here on Earth, the other on a faraway planet. But what about the entertainment value? The story? The characters? Which film goes the farthest beyond preaching and instead involves its audiences in the big question: What would it take for me to go up against my own kind? […]