Killing Them Softly (2011) vs. True Romance (1993)

November 29, 2012 Eric Volkman

The players in our two battling movies this review are gun-toting rogues, so we’ll have to let them shoot it out across the room while we duck under the tables. Armed and lethal in the challenger’s corner is Killing Them Softly, a dark, moody crime drama featuring Brad Pitt as a hit man tasked with eliminating the crew that robbed an illicit card game. That film points its barrel at the breezily violent cult hit, True Romance, with Christian Slater as a comic book store clerk whose involvement with a hooker leads him to murder and a high-risk drug deal.

Both films rely on humanizing their criminals with generous amounts of tangential dialogue, and both also lean heavily on music and artsy cinematography to set a pop, breezy tone in counterpoint to some pretty brutal action by their principals. […]

The Avengers (2012) -vs- X-Men: First Class (2011)

May 2, 2012 Bryce Zabel

If one superpowered superhero can fuel a super-blockbuster (Spider-Man, Hulk, Thor, Batman, Superman, Captain America), just imagine what a half-dozen of them in the same movie can do.

A few years ago, Marvel Studios did just that. After giving movie-length origin stories to its key players, Marvel now brings all their power-hitters together into the ultimate superhero combo group — The Avengers. Imagine this group fighting not just evil but each other for screen time: Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man and a couple of second tier-types, the token hottie, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, the guy with the bow and some very fancy arrows. […]

21 Jump Street (2012) -vs- The Other Guys (2010)

March 15, 2012 Eric Volkman

We’ll need a lot of ring space for this Smackdown, as it’ll be an energetic tag-team bout. Facing off will be two cop buddy comedies: In the new corner is 21 Jump Street, a very loose adaptation of the 1980s TV show about young undercovers, best remembered for introducing Johnny Depp to most of the world. Its opponent is The Other Guys, which follows the adventures of two police desk jockeys, looking to rebrand themselves as they get involved in a high-stakes fraud case. […]