Her (2013) vs. Lost in Translation (2003)

December 20, 2013 Arthur Tiersky

We here at Smackdown have a soft spot in our hearts for movies about lonely, alienated mopes. This may or may not have something to do with some of us here in Smackland being lonely, alienated mopes, but in any case, we’re all about the Mopelecore movies, and when they’re about how the mopes learn to get out of their mopey shells and embrace the wonders of the world around them, even more so. And when they are brought out of their shells by the likes of Scarlett Johansson? Catnip. Heck, when it’s Scarlett, it doesn’t even have to be a mope, necessarily, it could be some shallow, womanizing, porn-addicted guido for all we care. What we’re getting at here: Consider us Team ScarJo.

But back to the mopes and this week’s Smackdown, in which two Mope-Meets-Jo tales will try to out-sulk each other, and as a special ultra-Smackdown bonus, the writer-directors of each are ex-spouses. Exes fighting each other! Little thing we like to call Ex-Box. (Eh? Eh?)

Anyway… Mopes to your corners! Let’s do this. […]

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. […]

The Adventures of Tintin in 3D (2011)

December 15, 2011 Ian Abrams

Tintin felt like a real missed opportunity.

When you create a world inside a computer, isn’t one of the advantages that you can do things that you can’t do with brick-and-mortar sets and flesh-and-blood actors? Tintin only really comes alive during a couple of gigantic set pieces—a chase through an Arab village, a duel with cargo cranes—that would have been prohibitively expensive to do pre-CGI. The rest of the time, it’s like we’re watching actors wearing too much foundation.

The plot itself is creaky, starting with a ridiculous coincidence, and lurching forward from there. But the real disappointment is that despite the intricate motion-capture used to create them on screen, the characters are all lifeless. What makes Indiana Jones so wonderful is the emotion that Harrison Ford illuminates him with—his delight, when he feels it (his reunion with Marion in Crystal Skull) is glowing and childlike, but most of the time he seems to face the world with something like resigned annoyance (“Snakes. Why’d it have to be snakes?”). It’s that personality that locks us into the character and the movie. […]