Men of Steel (Smackdown’s Superman Smashup)

January 9, 2013 Movie Smackdown

If you count Christopher Reeve (ignoring the earlier Kirk Alyn “Superman”) as the original fully-realized film Superman in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie”, that makes Brandon Routh’s 2006 “Superman Returns” the reboot and 2013’s “Man of Steel” the reboot of the reboot.

But don’t forget the TV Supermans: George Reeves from “Adventures of Superman” to John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher in “Superboy” to Dean Cain in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” to Tom Welling in “Smallville.”

Our latest Smashup pays tribute to the reality that we’re almost getting to the point where as many actors have played Superman/Clark Kent as have played Hamlet. […]

The Way We See it: Joe Rassulo on the Oscars

February 8, 2012 Joe Rassulo

The Artist is this year’s most talked about and most overrated film. Yes, it’s charming and filled with lovely, touching performances and indelible moments of black and white reveries of movies and times past. It is a wonderful homage to an era long gone. Its obvious relevance to today is its theme of technology leaving many obsolete in its wake. There’s a familiar resonance to the despair many feel in today’s technological storm, which has left so many jobless and even homeless. But the film touches on that theme in a broad, superficial way. “Modern Times” it is not. It’s a singular, gimmicky, almost-silent film that works on every level except one of true substance. And, I believe, a best picture of the year should do more than charm. […]

I Don’t Know How She Does It (2011) -vs- The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

September 18, 2011 Nicole Marchesani

A woman’s role today in the world is as vague and subject to interpretation as the U.S. Constitution. She can work or stay at home or both, but every choice comes with a price. Some women feel judged for their decision not to have families; others feel pressured to stay with their families and not work. And heaven help the women who try to master both feats with only two hands.

I Don’t Know How She Does It and The Devil Wears Prada examine the ever-so-popular and unfortunate double standard that exists between men and women in the workplace through the woman’s point of view. Both films ask the big question: What are women supposed to do? Both offer solutions. Two all-star casts. Two scripts adapted by screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna from best-selling novels. […]

RESULTS! The SmackPoll: Comic-Con Superhero Edition

July 24, 2011 Movie Smackdown

THE RESULTS ARE IN. All the fighters have entered the ring now in this “Summer of Smackdown!” With the release of Captain America this weekend, the battle for blockbuster superiority is now in full swing. So far Thor has dropped the hammer on the competition, taking in over $446M since its international release.

From the beginning, we’ve had our SmackPoll up, asking our readers which film they think will go down as the best super-hero film of the summer. No, it’s not scientific, nor even a real fair fight given the staggered release dates, but it is kind of surprising. As of today, the film that just was released Captain America: The First Avenger is in first place, followed by Thor, followed by X-Men: First Class and it’s DC’s Green Lantern at the back of the pack.

The poll will stay open until the end of Comic-Con on Sunday at 5:00pm PST. If you’re in attendance, or following things on the Internet, pass the poll around to your friends and, now that Captain America is out, let’s see if he can hang on to his lead. […]

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (2011) -vs- The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

July 15, 2011 Eric Volkman

One finale to rule them all! Two beloved (not to mention lucrative) film franchises come to an end with these offerings and, more momentously, face each other in a Movie Smackdown of truly epic proportions.

The stakes in the two stories are similarly high, with heroes who’ve had the odds gradually stacked against them to the point of near-impossibility for success. In The Return of the King, the spirit of the evil sorcerer Sauron — in the form of a fiery, all-seeing Eye — lives and schemes for total victory against our vulnerable protagonists. Meanwhile, in Potter-land, Team Harry has to mount a quick and effective defense against Voldemort and his army, who are on the brink of completely taking over the magic world, destroying Hogwarts and killing its good students and faculty.

The sword-wielding, ring-bearing humans, hobbits and elves of Peter Jackson’s ultimate Rings face off against the spells and talismans of Harry and his young wizard pals. Which side will prevail? […]

Will Ferrell -vs- Bill Murray

May 21, 2011 Bryce Zabel

Will Ferrell got booed.

Yes, you got that right. Will Ferrell, a beloved SNL comic and feature funny man, was booed by a couple of guys in the crowd I was in to see Ferrell’s new Everything Must Go. I can only assume that they saw the trailers which had been cut to make it look like a comedy, and they figured, hey, we love our man Will, so they let’s check it out.

I wondered as they left the theater just how far into the film they got before they realized it was not meant to be funny but was a tough story about substance abuse and how it can take away everything you thought you had or thought you wanted. These guys felt duped they did not get the Will Ferrell that they had paid to see.

They probably also didn’t love Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.

Most comedic actors secretly want to play serious roles. Despite what a great gift it is to be able to make people laugh, and despite how much we all need to laugh in this day and age, often times the people most talented at this want desperately to show you their “other side.” Sometimes we are very, very glad they did. Sometimes, not so much.
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Something Borrowed (2011) -vs- He’s Just Not That Into You (2009)

May 8, 2011 Mark Sanchez

Given that most single guys would be thrilled to have Ginnifer Goodwin as their girlfriend, you have to wonder why Hollywood keeps casting her as the woman who has a hard time finding a decent relationship. She got famous as the immature “sister-wife” Margene in the creepy HBO polygamy series, Big Love. Then she played the girl who can’t find love no matter how desperately she dates around in 2009’s He’s Just Not That Into You. And now she’s back in Something Borrowed as the third corner in a romantic triangle. I have no idea what her personal life is like but we can only hope it’s better than the parts she plays.

Both our films are ensemble rom-coms, chock-full of familiar character traits: earnest, self-absorbed, scoundrel, ironic, clueless, and so on. Some of these are main characters and some are the obligatory wacky friends. There are enough people running around in both films coupling and uncoupling that there seems to be a lot going on even when there isn’t. The idea is to cut from one storyline to another, keep the pace up, get some laughs, find some sympathetic moments, get a few more laughs, and tie up things more or less neatly before they run the credits. Everybody seems to have jobs that don’t really interfere with their pursuit of love and sex. Ah, paradise… […]

True Grit (2010) -vs- True Grit (1969)

December 27, 2010 Mark Sanchez

Apparently, if you need to track down a bad guy in the wild west, your absolute best shot at doing it is to hire a misogynistic one-eyed alcoholic. Whether you watch the old or the new True Grit, that much seems clear.

I’ll admit that something uneasy crept into my life upon learning Rooster Cogburn would live again in a remake of this 1969 crowd pleaser. Drawing from core material about murder and revenge, the film version gave us a smart, spunky girl who recruits John Wayne to the rescue. It won the Duke the Best Actor Oscar (as much for career recognition as his performance). It remains a pleasure to watch. Doesn’t need re-making, right?

Two words. Coen Brothers. Two more words. Jeff Bridges.

The vivid characters and language in the novel written by Charles Portis seem tailor-made for the Coen’s quirky sensibilities. The truth is that this film would never have been re-made except for their passion to do it. And now that they have, honestly, this one is a shoot-out for the ages. […]

The Blind Side (2009) -vs- Hoosiers (1986)

November 21, 2009 Mark Sanchez

We cheer as Eliza Doolittle becomes My Fair Lady and when The Soloist Nathaniel Ayers recovers himself through music. Along the way the facts blur that one movie is based on a true story, the other is fiction since both say something meaningful about beating the odds and personal redemption. Sometimes the distinctions don’t matter and sometimes they do.
Few people beat longer odds than Michael Oher, whose life story (the biggest parts) is the heart of The Blind Side. The marketing promos emphasize Sandra Bullock as a comedic southern fried Pollyanna, but not the throwaway kid whose real life – off the football field, and on – gives this material its backbone. It’s a story where the distinctions matter.
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The Dark Knight (2008) -vs- The Godfather, Part II (1974)

December 12, 2008 Beau DeMayo

When “The Dark Knight” hit movie screens earlier this year, critics screamed that cinema history had just been made, that it was even better than the movie that spawned it and, just possibly, one of the best films ever released. In 1974, the same thing happened.

“The Godfather, Part II” was not only seen as the best sequel ever but it stood up as a great film, winning the Oscar for Best Picture, like its predecessor from two years earlier. The test for these sequels is whether they managed to continue and expand upon the originals that came before them, by charting fresh new territory, raising the stakes and deepening the concepts. […]

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