THE AVENGERS: Assembling a New Classic?

October 11, 2011 Bryce Zabel

After carefully setting them all up with their own movies, Marvel now brings all their dashing superguys together into the greatest superhero group of all time with Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk and, for good measure, the token woman Black Widow and the archer who’s never quite gotten out of the Marvel second tier, Hawkeye. […]

THE THING: Back Again After Being Back Again the First Time

October 9, 2011 Movie Smackdown

Despite the fact that people from around the world go to Antarctica in the spirit of friendship and scientific cooperation (more or less), in the movies it is usually a setting for Something Bad That Is About to Happen.

The Thing has been made before. In the first go-round, it was The Thing from Another World in 1951. Three decades later, 1982, it was just The Thing and in the hands of John Carpenter. Now, another three decades later, 2011, it’s still The Thing, only constructed now to serve as a prelude and not a remake of Carpenter’s classic version. […]

Battle: Los Angeles (2011) -vs- Transformers (2007) -vs- War of the Worlds (2005) -vs- Independence Day (1996)

June 1, 2011 Bryce Zabel

There are alien invasions and then there are alien invasions.

This Smack is about the ones where the aliens swoop in, lasers blazing, hell-bent on some balls-to-the-wall human ass-kicking. No demands, no negotiations, just straight-ahead mayhem where the Earth is torn up with no regard whatsoever. It’s as if they’re treating our planet like a condemned building that just needs to knocked down as fast as possible so the new construction can get started. I know some folks think we’re already doing that ourselves but let’s skip the politics and just define this as apocalyptical visitation.
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Independence Day (1996) -vs- The War Of The Worlds (1953)

March 28, 2010 Rodney Twelftree

Last year here at Movie Smackdown we got the idea to see what readers thought was the Best Alien Invasion Film of All Time. We thought that the genre really broke down into two sections — “Classic” and “Modern.” And so we did what we always do in these cases, we put it to our readers and let them weigh in.

We have two winners now, and we’re about to put them to the test against each other. For our purposes, we defined “Classic” as all the films that existed in the early 1950-1970 period (although all our candidates came from the 1950s), and “Modern” as everything that followed. Interestingly, fully half of our “modern” films were re-makes from the “classic” era. The “Classic” race was a close as hell, the “Modern” race yielded a clear winner. Here are our results: […]

The Hurt Locker (2009) -vs- In The Loop (2009)

August 2, 2009 Sherry Coben

“The Hurt Locker” comes damn close to earning masterpiece status. Only in the scenes between the action does the film occasionally falter; in individuating the bomb squad crew, a few character choices and set pieces have the whiff of the war-movie generic about them, and we find ourselves itching to get back to the field, to escape the hackneyed struggles and occasionally overcooked drama of the base. Nothing matches the filmmaking of the utterly believable and wrenching missions, and we start to experience a little bit of the high, the tiniest sense of the drug of war. Guy Pearce, Ralph Fiennes, and David Morse hit hard in their well-wrought cameos. To criticize the weak parts would be nitpicking; perhaps the audience needs the break from all the breathholding, armrest clutching, tension. The craziness of the entire enterprise holds and fills the screen; insurgents and innocents watch impassively, impossibly, calmly, as their world is blown to smithereens. Images sear with the power of truth and horrible beauty – a scraggly cat limping among the ruins of a war-torn street, a little boy made into a bomb lying on a table, a nighttime cityscape scarier than anything you can conjure on your own. The heat, the firefights, the madness. “Hurt Locker” works like a fever dream, installing unforgettable memories directly into your brain. A work of tremendous power and focus, the film demands much of the viewer and rewards the effort tenfold.
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Saving Private Ryan (1998) -vs- The Thin Red Line (1998)

July 1, 2009 Movie Smackdown

War is hell. And until Steven Spielberg got involved, we’d never really experienced war through the eyes of a soldier. We’d come close, with filmmakers as diverse as Coppola and Oliver Stone all giving us their interpretations, but it always seemed to be at a safe distance. The viewer was taken on a journey, but not our own journey. Unlike Ron Kovic or Ben Willard, who undertake a journey for us, Spielberg attempted to give us our own experience in war without having to leave the cinema. “Saving Private Ryan,” which graphically shows us the D-Day landings of a group of US forces in 1944, opens with an assault on the senses unlike any we’d ever seen. It thrust us into the heat of battle, the confusion and carnage of an assault that beggars description. It wanted us to know exactly what war is really like.
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Invasion (2007) -vs- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

August 28, 2007 Mark Sanchez

Nothing persists like a good idea. Its power and elegance hold up no matter how it is reinterpreted in movie sequels, prequels and remakes. “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” became a surprise science fiction hit in 1956 and remains a popular model for imitation. You can trace elements of the basic storyline on film and TV today: Bad things happen when you fall asleep. This sturdy premise spawned well-made remakes in 1978 and 1994. Now, a new version of Jack Finney’s tale of alien takeover steps up, “Invasion.” This remake arrives with plenty of drama behind the camera. It offers an otherworldly Smackdown: Does “Invasion” snatch a good idea from the original movie, or lose its identity?
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