Les Miserables (2012) vs. The Fugitive (1993)

December 24, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Yes, I know, we could have put this operatic soon-to-be blockbuster, Les Miserables, up against any number of period musicals translated to movies, from The King and I to Sound of Music to Moulin Rouge. Or we could have matched it against any of the multitudinous other film adaptations of the Victor Hugo novel or even against the stage musical itself. Someone else with more academic credentials or film school training than we have can dissect those comparisons at another time. (If you can’t wait, there’s always Wikipedia.)

The thing is, as I watched and listened to the sincere musical emoting of the modern Les Miserables at a pre-release screening at the Pacific Design Center theater here in Hollywood, my mind kept trying to focus on the actual story. Namely, the convict Jean Valjean’s flight from the relentless Inspector Javert, who just won’t cut him a break, no matter how many good deeds he’s done or may still do if allowed his freedom. […]

Taken 2 (2012) -vs- Taken (2008)

October 4, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

So I mean, if it were me, and I’d just gone on my first vacation to Europe and gotten targeted by the first person I met in France and subsequently kidnapped by sex slave-traders and basically had the most harrowing experience of my life, I probably wouldn’t be going back to Europe any time soon. I don’t care how bad-ass my dad is, or even that he’s played by Liam Neeson. But then, I’m not perky teenager Kim Mills, nor am I Maggie Grace, who has now co-starred as Kim Mills in two movies, despite being more than ten years the character’s senior, so what do I know? […]

Midnight in Paris (2011) -vs- Adaptation (2002)

June 6, 2011 Mark Sanchez

If there’s anything that sounds less appealing than watching the mental anguish of a blocked writer, we can’t imagine what it is. In fact, we can’t even begin to visualize… hold on a second… getting my thoughts straight… just have to play some Spider Solitaire while I, um… trying to focus… Huh — I didn’t know we had Cheetos….

Fifteen hours later:

Right, where were we? Oh yeah, writer’s block — it’s not pretty. Not cinematic either, until Charlie Kaufman came along and sweated blood for three years, cracking the code of how to translate to film his own innermost creative struggle in a deeply personal, throw-out-the-rulebook kind of way. His resulting screenplay for Adaptation became the Holy Grail of screenwriter movies, and under the brilliant direction of Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Where the Wild Things Are), earned a slew of Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Adapted Screenplay. […]

From Paris With Love (2010) -vs- Taken (2009)

February 12, 2010 Bryce Zabel

Watch out when the American CIA comes to Europe in any movie made by the collaboration between French filmmakers Pierre Morel and Luc Besson because the body count will be high and the local infra-structure will certainly suffer. While both of these films let their leads hunt down and kill prodigious amounts of bad guys, one of them wanted to be Taken seriously while the other one merely wants to let you know that it’s a comically violent gift sent you From Paris with Love. The truth is if the CIA really had any agents who behave like Liam Neeson or John Travolta, the entire War on Terrorism would probably have been wrapped up by now. And Paris would probably be burning. […]