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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Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) -vs- Mirror Mirror (2012)

June 1, 2012 Eric Volkman

What evil website would even dream of pitting the sweetly heroic Snow White against herself in a winner-take-all fight? Movie Smackdown, of course!

The beloved fairy tale figure with the dark hair and pale face is the lead character in two big Hollywood releases this year, Snow White and the Huntsman, opening this weekend, and Mirror, Mirror, which premiered back in March. Although both feature the broad outlines of the original story – evil queen, wrongful imprisonment, dark forest, seven dwarves, etc. – the two movies vary greatly in tone and approach. Huntsman goes the dramatic, big-budget route with monster attacks and a castle siege. Mirror, Mirror is a light comedy featuring Julia Roberts as the not-so-scary villainess requiring constant reassurance from the eponymous prop that she’s the fairest of them all. […]

The Avengers (2012) -vs- X-Men: First Class (2011)

May 2, 2012 Bryce Zabel

If one superpowered superhero can fuel a super-blockbuster (Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Batman, Superman, Captain America), just imagine what a half-dozen of them in the same movie can do.

A few years ago, Marvel Studios did just that. After giving movie-length origin stories to its key players, Marvel now brings all their power-hitters together into the ultimate superhero combo group — The Avengers. Imagine this group fighting not just evil but each other for screen time: Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man and a couple of second tier-types, the token hottie, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, the guy with the bow and some very fancy arrows. […]