Dark Skies vs. Dark Skies

March 1, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Our “Dark Skies” has established itself in the minds of a significant number of science fiction fans as a gripping piece of conspiracy drama set in the world of UFOs and abductions. It anchored NBC’s Saturday night “Thrillogy” concept in the 1996 season premiere and starred Eric Close (“Nashville”) and the late film character actor J.T. Walsh (“Sling Blade”). Its main title design won the Emmy award and its pilot screenplay received a Writers Guild nomination. The Syfy Channel aired the entire series multiple times. Since 2010 there’s been a Facebook page where thousands of fans from many different countries push Sony for a TV revival. […]

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. […]

The Oscar as the Ultimate Smackdown

January 30, 2012 Bryce Zabel

Despite the major studios’ insistence on making primarily mega-budget, tent-pole, comic-book, sequel-remake, monster-alien-scifi films as their bread-and-butter, challenging and compelling original films do get made every year through alternative means. And, despite the harping and complaining we all do, there always seems to be a great crop that bridge the divide and are worth saluting. Those are the kinds of films that the Academy Awards gravitate to as their nominees. […]

In Praise of… 50/50

January 11, 2012 Bryce Zabel

50/50 deserves every bit as much Oscar love as The Descendants which is going to get its share. Both films are about dealing with terrible news and living through those stages of grief and 50/50 more than holds its own in that comparison.

Instead Academy members will probably see 50/50 as a diversion for people in their 20s, as light and comedic, and as another Seth Rogen getting stoned kind of movie. Well, it is actually those things within its frames, but it is so much more. […]

Hey, MTV: Stop Using Our Trademarked Name! Movie Smackdown®

December 30, 2011 Movie Smackdown

UPDATE – JANUARY 3, 2012

MTV has backed off its use of “Movie Smackdown” after we made it clear that it was our trademarked name through this post and by official means. They have changed the name of their tournament competition to “Movie Brawl.” Still not sure how they could have let this happen, but at least they’ve done the right thing when their mistake was pointed out to them. […]

Straw Dogs (2011) -vs- Walking Tall (2004)

September 15, 2011 Eric Volkman

The gloomy 1970s were a good time for dark, bloody, man-against-tall-odds dramas. Two of the more successful movies in this genre were Phil Karlson’s cult classic Walking Tall and Sam Peckinpah’s controversial (at the time, anyway) Straw Dogs. Now that we live in the Age of the Remake, over the last few years we’ve inevitably gotten shiny new versions of both.

The two films feature loner protagonists, overmatched against hostile forces much better equipped to prevail in a fight. In the case of Walking Tall, Iraqi war vet Chris Vaughn (Dwayne Johnson, or “The Rock” to fans of his pro wrestling career) squares off against an evil casino owner and the minions he’s been able to corrupt with his money. Meanwhile, nerdy Straw Dogs protagonist David Sumner (James Marsden) has to contend with a pack of violent rednecks including both Alexander Skarsgard (Zoolander, TV’s True Blood) and the ever-volatile James Woods, either of whom would be a scary opponent all by himself. […]

If You Put a Smack and a Mashup in an Atom Collider…

September 13, 2011 Movie Smackdown

The SmashUps! are a collaboration between Smackdown guru and iMovie addict Bryce Zabel, who writes and produces them, and myself. I voice them and add what Bryce calls “the cool, weird stuff.” (I think that’s a compliment, but you never know with Bryce.)

So, please, take a look at our latest, the one that came from sticking the upcoming Real Steel in that particle acceler-o-meter or atomic whatsis with the classic Rocky film that won the Academy Award back in 1976. Given that our site has a couple of awards statues boxing each other in its banner, this one hits pretty close to home. This is its world premiere but, because it’s virtual, we don’t have to provide the hor d’oevres which, in this economy, means a lot. […]

Straw Dogs (2011) -vs- Straw Dogs (1971)

September 12, 2011 Bob Nowotny

Now, after a summer of sequels that did little to further movie franchises or the film business in general, comes a remake of Straw Dogs, the 1971 classic considered by some critics to be among the most visceral and memorable statements regarding violence ever put on the screen. Then again, what else would you expect from the maestro of malignant mayhem, the irrepressible Sam Peckinpah?

The updated remake is helmed by journalist/film critic-turned-director Rob Lurie. How does it compare? Can Lurie teach an old Dog new tricks? Like Westminster, this “best in show” is winner take all. […]

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