Men of Steel (Smackdown’s Superman Smashup)

January 9, 2013 Movie Smackdown

If you count Christopher Reeve (ignoring the earlier Kirk Alyn “Superman”) as the original fully-realized film Superman in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie”, that makes Brandon Routh’s 2006 “Superman Returns” the reboot and 2013’s “Man of Steel” the reboot of the reboot.

But don’t forget the TV Supermans: George Reeves from “Adventures of Superman” to John Haymes Newton and Gerard Christopher in “Superboy” to Dean Cain in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” to Tom Welling in “Smallville.”

Our latest Smashup pays tribute to the reality that we’re almost getting to the point where as many actors have played Superman/Clark Kent as have played Hamlet. […]

The Walking Dead (AMC) vs. Falling Skies (TNT)

March 7, 2012 Bryce Zabel

There’s just something about ragtag teams of extended families trying to get by after an apocalypse. It feels like a particularly American fantasy — that when the chips are down, we’ll all put aside our petty differences, realize what’s truly important and come together to kick some ass, whether it be Nazi or Commie or even alien or zombie. The point is that our melting pot really doesn’t get cooking until the heat is applied and the burner’s on high.

These two series are flagship action pieces for their respective networks — The Walking Dead came first on AMC, followed within a year by Falling Skies on TNT. The former has its second season finale this Sunday and the latter comes back this summer for its sophomore year. Both are in their prime when it comes to the life of any TV series — enough of a run to fix some early mistakes but not so much as to render the week-to-week predictable. […]

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. […]

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? […]

Walton Goggins Talks Smack

July 30, 2011 Eric Estrin

It’s been a big summer for Walton Goggins. Aside from hitting the big screen this weekend with a memorable role in Cowboys & Aliens, the thoughtful, literate Southerner with the deep-set green eyes and electro-shock haircut picked up his first Emmy nomination for supporting actor on television’s Justified, after not getting similarly deserved recognition in seven years on The Shield. In addition, he filmed a part in the independent drama Officer Down, has been promoting his work in Rod Lurie’s Straw Dogs remake which is due in theaters Sept. 16, and has begun filming on Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg-directed biopic in which he has a key supporting role.

Movie Smackdown! editor Eric Estrin caught up with Goggins recently in the actor’s Hollywood home and asked about the experience of filming an old-fashioned Western mashed up with an edgy, extra-terrestrial thriller.* […]

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. […]

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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Quarantine (2008) -vs- Cloverfield (2008)

February 7, 2010 Rodney Twelftree

Sometimes, it’s the reality of a scenario that scares us the most. Film-makers are turning to more and more alternate methods of delivering a film to jaded, YouTube-obsessed audiences. With the two films on offer in this Smackdown, we delve into the world of “found footage” cinema and its gradual proliferation among the mainstream today. One, “Cloverfield,” takes us into New York city during a terrifying alien attack. The other, “Quarantine,” (a remake of a successful Spanish film entitled “REC” from 2007) delivers the story of a group of apartment residents, some fire-fighters, police, and a news crew, who become trapped inside a block of units when they are sealed in to stop the spread of a mysterious virus. Both are filmed in the Single Camera Perspective. Both are equally gripping. Both are filled with images and moments that will stay with the viewer forever. But which is better: alien attack and mass destruction, or simple, human drama played out with feverish speed and incalculable terror?
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“Galaxy Quest” Boldly Arrived Ten Years Ago!

December 20, 2009 Mark Sanchez

Galaxy Quest (1999) -vs- Spaceballs (1987)
Patrolling the Universe for Laughs
The Smackdown. While the newspapers and magazines are full of “Best Of” lists for the past ten years, let’s get specific. It was a decade ago that the great “Star Trek” send-up “Galaxy Quest” came to theaters on Christmas Day of 1999. This year we put the film into the Smackdown ring against another comedy send-up “Spaceballs” which took on the other great space franchise, “Star Wars.” While fan boys and girls alike will be debating “Star Wars” versus “Star Trek” for generations to come, maybe just maybe we can get a clear winner out of the comic dopplegangers. Here we go!
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