Real Steel (2011) -vs- Rocky (1976)

October 9, 2011 Nicole Marchesani

Ah, the American dream. The hope that everyone, regardless of status, wealth or origin, has the opportunity to work for what they want and get it. One of the great ways Hollywood has represented the American dream in film is through boxing. Films like Cinderella Man, Ali, The Fighter and the most famous of all, Rocky. Rocky Balboa has been a symbol of the American dream for more than three decades. He continues to win the hearts of Americans by proving that the underdog from humble beginnings can go the distance.

Stepping into the smackdown ring to challenge Rocky is Real Steel, set to release in theaters Friday, October 6. Real Steel is a real contender, with a dynamic cast, stellar special effects and a sentimental story with heart. But does it have what it takes to defeat Rocky, the legendary, reigning champion? Let’s bring this fight to the ring and find out. There’s the opening bell… […]

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. […]

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) -vs- I, Robot (2004)

August 5, 2011 Bryce Zabel

Maybe humanity won’t be #1 on Earth forever…

We’ve been used to being at the top of the heap pretty much since we picked up some stones and started making tools. But what’s going to happen if another species — real (like apes) or artificial (like robots) — gets the same idea? Fortunately, we have a couple of cautionary tales to consider that should give us pause before we get too cavalier.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is the prequel to the re-boot of the ’60s-’70s franchise that started it all and sets out to answer the question that has always undermined the franchise: how would apes really pull this switcheroo with humankind off? With genomes being mapped and wonder drugs being tested at record speed these days, this is a film that was just begging to be made.

Back in the mid ’00s, however, I, Robot asked a different kind of question. Sparked by the breathtaking increase in computing power keeping pace with Moore’s Law or even Ray Kurzweil’s invocation of The Singularity, that question was: how much longer before these machines we built can think faster than us and what if they become conscious? […]

SmackSneak: Damn Dirty Humans

July 26, 2011 Bryce Zabel

Maybe humanity won’t be #1 on Earth forever…

We’ve been used to being at the top of the heap pretty much since we picked up some stones and started making tools. But what’s going to happen if another species — real (like apes) or artificial (like robots) gets the same idea? Fortunately, we have a couple of cautionary tales to consider that should give us pause before we get too cavalier.

Our Smackdown Challenger Rise of the Planet of the Apes promises to be a straight-ahead origin story that fully sets out how the apes supplant humanity in the future. Set in present day San Francisco, the film blends science fiction with science fact, giving us James Franco in the lead as a genius whose experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy. Sounds and looks awesome. For anyone who has seen the CG image of the ape in those posters, it does a truly amazing job of suggesting a very creepy beginning of intelligence.

Then in the ’00s there was iRobot, our Defending Champion in this Smackdown. Semi-based on Isaac Asimov’s short-story collection of the same name, it starred Will Smith in a story that takes place in the year 2035 in Chicago where robots are ubiquitous, used primarily as servants and in public service capacities. They’re supposed to be safe, being designed in accordance with the Three Laws of Robotics but, of course, they get other ideas. It made $347 million worldwide, so you could say it was popular. […]

Surrogates (2009) -vs- Gamer (2009)

June 28, 2010 Rodney Twelftree

Would humanity be better off if we all plugged into an artificial reality where our dreams, nightmares and fantasies can come true? In a strange way, both “Surrogates” and “Gamer” attempt to explore that question. With vague flashes of “Minority Report,” “The Matrix” and “I, Robot,” “Surrogates” plugs us into a bizarre world lived through robotic versions of ourselves, while “Gamer” answers the new-age-old question of what life would be like if we could live inside a video game vicariously, through actual people. Both films question our belief that fantasy would be better than reality, but which one does it more successfully?
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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) -vs- Transformers (2007)

June 20, 2009 Beau DeMayo

Both “Transformers” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” brim with elaborate action set-pieces, campy humor, and hyper-sexuality. Industrial Light and Magic struggles in both films to design the Transformers in such a way that we can distinguish one from the other. Whenever a fight erupts between Autobot and Decepticon, the on-screen action tumbles into a jumbled mess of flopping, indistinguishable mechanical parts. Sure, I appreciate the high level of detail, but not at the cost of coherent action scenes. “Transformers: RotF” especially suffers from ILM’s designs as Bay introduces a whole slew of new Transformers that simply blend together. It’s hard to appreciate large-scale action sequences when I can’t tell the good from the bad guys and thus, can’t tell who’s winning.
Now both films embrace Bay’s typical low-brow humor. Again, “Transformers: RotF” probably suffers most in this category. Gags like Sam’s mom lolly-gagging around on a college campus after eating pot-brownies or the dangling wrecking ball testicles on a construction Decepticon aren’t just dumb, they’re insulting to the audiences’ intelligence. “Transformers” had some corny moments, many centered around the Autobots fitting into Sam’s suburban life. However, none proved as gregarious and useless as those in Transformers: RotF” where the jokes simply exist onto themselves and are cracked in the most inappropriate moments.
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Deja Vu (2006) -vs- Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)

June 18, 2009 Bryce Zabel

If people from the future could travel back to the past, wouldn’t they have already done it? Would it be better to see into the past or into the future? Do they both exist simultaneously, along with the present, because time is relative to where you are? If you like these kinds of questions, we have a couple of films to really put your through Olympic-sized paces in the Suspension of Disbelief event. We’ve put a couple of major star vechicles in the in our time travel machine, both of them about scooting back through the years in order to change the future, both directed by major directors with reputations for getting the action up there on the screen. “Deja Vu” is the more cerebral — “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” is the more literal — but both of them cause your brain to short-circuit if you think too much about twists-and-turns of time travel as they would have you believe it works. But this is an entertainment site, not a physics lecture, so let’s get to it.
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Terminator Salvation (2009) -vs- The Terminator (1984)

May 22, 2009 Mark Sanchez

The basic idea of mechanized death traveling through time to alter the future carried three feature films and a now-canceled TV series. All rework the storyline to emphasize different aspects of a familiar fable. They succeed to varying degrees and set a high bar for whatever follows.
“Terminator Salvation” faces tall tasks in this Smackdown!: Does it succeed as a film on its own merits, while advancing the memorable elements set forth in “The Terminator?” Will you hear “I’ll be back” and wonder why?
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