American Hustle (2013) vs. The Informant (2009)

December 12, 2013 Arthur Tiersky

Who doesn’t love Matt Damon and Christian Bale?

(Okay, probably this guy doesn’t love Bale so much, and Minnie Driver still might be holding a grudge against Damon…But just go with me on this…)

And who doesn’t love when big stars like Matt Damon and Christian Bale ugly themselves up with bad hairpieces and weight gains and cheesy facial hair for a scruffy little indie role?

And who doesn’t love period offbeat indie comedies based on true stories in which the aforementioned uglied-up big stars like Matt Damon and Christian Bale play real-life dudes who started working undercover with the Feds to catch criminals, only to turn out to be unreliable and devious and driven by their own agendas?

And who doesn’t love when original mavericks of low-budget filmmaking like Steven Soderbergh and David O. Russell return to their indie roots and make…what I just said above? […]

Skyfall (2012) vs. The Bourne Legacy (2012)

November 8, 2012 Eric Volkman

Two determined superspies, two venerable movie franchises. The more venerable one, James Bond – by some standards, the longest-running film series in history – fattens its library this weekend with the release of Skyfall, starring Daniel Craig, who plays the suave secret agent for only the third time. Fighting in the defending champ’s corner is The Bourne Legacy, featuring a lead character so new, he’s not even named Bourne. Jeremy Renner plays the genetically enhanced secret warrior Aaron Cross, outrunning various government creeps who are trying to assassinate their own man to protect their black-ops program. […]

The Bourne Legacy (2012) -vs- The Bourne Identity (2002)

August 9, 2012 Arthur Tiersky

Rumpled bureaucrats stand around a cramped room, surrounded by state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, barking orders at the underlings and whispering tensely among themselves as they watch a muscular super-agent and his female companion out-gun, out-run, out-fight and out-think them at every turn.

Where else could we be but Bourne again? (Sorry.)

Yes, that’s right, the lucrative franchise, loosely adapted from Robert Ludlum’s novels, that closed out its initial trilogy with (the now inappropriately titled) Bourne Ultimatum (2006) is back. The hooks for The Bourne Legacy are a mostly new cast, including lead actor, the screenwriter of all four taking over directing chores as well, and that other than the occasional photo, there’s not an actual Bourne in sight. […]

Total Recall (2012) -vs- Total Recall (1990)

August 2, 2012 Eric Volkman

Welcome! Sit yourself in this chair and don’t worry when we strap your limbs down securely and tape electrodes to your head. There’s nothing to be worried about!

In the both of the Total Recalls we’ll be comparing in this review, a visit to such a patient’s seat launches a mind-bending sci-fi espionage adventure for the seemingly ordinary Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1990 original, Colin Farrell in the just-released update). Both big-budget movies unspool roughly the same story and feature plenty of slam-bang action, a nightmare vision of a bleak future, and not a little violence. They also play with the idea of implanted memory. Can we really be sure we’re truly experiencing the here and now? […]

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) -vs- The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1965)

December 8, 2011 Eric Volkman

This is not only a spy vs. spy, top-secret Smackdown, it’s a battle pitting a storied author against himself. John Le Carre’s compelling, plot-heavy novels have consistently provided raw material for movies since the mid-1960s, and if the budget of the latest adaptation, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, is any indication, that trend is likely to continue for longer than the duration of the Cold War. […]