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Site of the Week – Movie Smackdown

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Had enough of Obama vs. Clinton? Watch films do battle instead. At Movie Smackdown, two films go toe-to-toe to decide whether the defending champion, a classic, still has what it takes, or if a new release is the one to watch.

“The idea has always been simple,” says site creator Bryce Zabel. “Two films, one review, no holds barred.” As the Smackdown referee-in-chief, he makes sure every match offers readers more fun, more value, and more suspense than the traditional thumbs up or thumbs down critique. “Most reviews let you know whether the reviewer likes a film in the first paragraph,” he says. “In our reviews, there is actual suspense and doubt about which film will win, often going all the way through to the end.”

It’s also worth noting, there’s no such thing as a tie in a
smackdown. The term, made popular by the Rock and wrestling, is
synonymous with decisive defeat. Zabel was drawn to the word and thanks
the WWE for their contribution to the English language, but that’s
where the connection ends. When it comes to the competitive format on
the site, he says, “a better inspiration might be my personal friend,
comic book legend Stan Lee… Stan’s favorite question is, ‘Who do they
fight?’ Maybe I’ve got Stan whispering in my ear.”

Where there
are winners, there are losers and that leads to controversy. “There
absolutely are disagreements between critics and fans, critics and
critics and fans and fans,” he says. “I think Beau DeMayo is one of our
best writers but he gave it to The Fountain over 2001: A Space Odyssey and recently to Batman Begins over Iron Man and I disagreed in both cases.”

by the time Bryce started Movie Smackdown in 2005, he was making his
living as a screenwriter. “Now I know how hard it is to make even a bad
movie, so I have some sympathy,” he admits. His latest film, Let’s Do It,
based on the true story of two students who talked Cecil B. DeMille
into loaning them a film camera, is currently in pre-production. He
describes it as a comedic look at the making of Ed’s Co-Ed, the
first full-length student film ever made and says, “It captures
beautifully the true spirit of why we love to watch films and why some
of us are driven to devote our lives to making them.” When it’s
finished will we see a Let’s Do It vs. Ed’s Co-Ed
smackdown on the site? “That would be fun but, obviously, I’ll have to
disqualify myself from the actual review,” he says. “Besides, if I make
a movie that doesn’t stand up to an 80-year-old black-and-white silent
film, then I probably should give up my day job anyway.”

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