Jack Reacher (2012) vs. Collateral (2004)

December 20, 2012 Eric Volkman

Thankfully, Tom Cruise has never gone the Evil Twin route, facing off against himself in a movie. But that doesn’t mean he can’t do it in a Smackdown.

Here we pit two of the actor’s star turns against each other: He’s the would-be savior in the just-released Jack Reacher, while he plays a nasty contract killer in Collateral. Both are hard-edged, violent dramas featuring brooding anti-heroes. And if Collateral faced a challenge by casting America’s favorite boyish grin as a cold-blooded assassin, Jack Reacher ups the stakes by coming out a week after Sandy Hook and featuring the aftermath of a broad-daylight massacre whose victims include a nanny accompanying a small child. This one’s a reacher all right. […]

The Hunger Games (2012) -vs- The Running Man (1987)

March 23, 2012 Nicole Marchesani

President Snow (Donald Sutherland) shares his philosophy in this weekend’s blockbuster film, The Hunger Games, “The only thing stronger than fear is hope.” He and his kind have built their dystopia on this theory: if the people they subjugate don’t have a way to cope, they could get violent. Better to give them some pre-packaged violence and distract them.

The odds are stacked heavily against both Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games and Ben Richards of The Running Man to win in their own futuristic sporting arenas. But they are motivated to try, each having not just their own lives but the lives of the people they love at stake. While millions of people watch, they suffer and struggle to make it to the end. The only thing keeping them going is hope.

It seems harsh to subject these characters to another bloody arena, but as the films prove, audiences love a good fight. We can’t lie. So do we. […]

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012) -vs- Journey to the Center of the Earth (2008)

February 9, 2012 Eric Volkman

You have to hand it to French science fiction writer Jules Verne. More than a century after his death, he not only continues to be a best-selling author, his books still provide ripe material for movie adaptations. 2008’s Journey to the Center of the Earth was a more or less straightforward adaptation of Verne’s adventure story aimed at kids, and while its similarly targeted sequel, Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, drifts a little from its origins, much of Verne’s content is used in the movie. Essentially, both are old-fashioned, earnest, quest movies spiced up a bit with contemporary references for the target audience, with 3D added to give the kids some funky eye candy. […]