Top List Thursday – Top 20 Similar Movies That Were Released At Nearly The Same Time

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This year appears to be the worst time to pay a visit to Barack Obama’s pad as we have not just one but two movies featuring plots where terrorists take over the White House. Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down are also not exceptional cases, as Hollywood has a history of releasing similar themed films very close to one another. Here are my ten favourite duelling pairs, as well as which one I feel won their respective rivalry.

Deep Impact & Armageddon

This is undoubtedly the “similar movies” example that most people will remember and quote. Taking place in the disaster movie heydays of the 1990’s, both these films saw Earth threatened with extinction due to a rather big [email protected]#$ing space rock. Michael Bay’s Armageddon would go on to win the Box Office war (though Deep Impact certainly held its own) but the Baysplosion filled film was essentially a full length Aerosmith music video, with some added animal crackers and Michael Clark Duncan’s very muscular butt crack. And while Deep Impact didn’t have a scene where Ben Affleck made all the females in the cinemas spontaneously fountain salt water from their eyeballs, it was undoubtedly the superior film with better performances, more believable script and a much better handle on human drama.

A Bug’s Life & Antz

When it comes to film feuds, few were as dramatic as Dreamworks’ Antz and Pixar’s A Bug’s Life. In a nutshell, Jeffrey Kattzenberg was working at Disney (who owned Pixar) while the studios followup to Toy Story, then just titled “Bugs”, was being developed. Katzenberg would leave Disney for Dreamworks Animation where he would then help develop Antz. When Pixar head John Lasseter found about it, he wa furious and phoned up Katzenberg to express his feelings in a selection of four letter words.

Katzenberg responded by trying to strongarm Pixar, saying that if they changed the release date of A Bug’s Life, which was set to open on the same day as Dreamworks’ Prince of Egypt, then Kasseter would scrap Antz entirely. Lasseter responded with even louder four letter words.

This prompted Katzenberg to bump up the production schedule on Antz so that it could actually beat the much longer in development A Bug’s Life to release. Unfortunately, this cost them in the long run.

Woody Allen is brilliant as the neurotic ant, Z, in Antz, and there are plenty of awesome moments throughout, but the rushed production meant sub-par visuals and not quite as good a script as A Bug’s Life, which came out tops both critically and commercially when it was released later in the year.

Dante’s Peak & Volcano

Like mentioned earlier, you couldn’t take two steps in the 90’s without walking face first into some kind of natural disaster. Tidal waves, hurricanes, asteroids; they all took their turn to wipe us out. And then we had volcanoes.

While it’s true that the Tommy Lee Jones starring Volcano tends to embrace its widescreen absurdity far better than the decidedly more serious Dante’s Peak, the former film also features some hammy performances and some really silly moments. Dante’s Peak may also have it’s faults, but it not only featured James Bond and Sarah Conner, it was also the only film I can think of that made me afraid of a cloud.

Capote & Infamous

You’ve got to feel sorry for Infamous: A very well written and directed film, with a star studded cast all delivering great performances, often against type, telling the gripping true story of how writer Truman Capote went about investigating the murders that would eventually become his true crime novel “In Cold Blood”. Unfortunately for Infamous, they didn’t have the Oscar winning performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

Finding Nemo & Shark’s Tale

While it could be argued that Antz and A Bug’s Life was just a coincidence (you’d be wrong, but you could argue it), I don’t think anybody was falling for that claim when it came to Finding Nemo and a Shark’s Tale, the latter being a blatant attempt to ride the coattail-fins of the former’s major success. Unfortunately for Shark’s Tale, it’s aquatic rival is just simply superior in every way.

The Abyss & Leviathan

Leviathan is not a horrible movie. It’s not a great movie either though, especially considering it featured a great cast of who’s who for 1989, and is directed by George P. Cosmatos, the guy behind Rambo: First Blood Part 2 and Cobra. But not living up to it’s potential is not Leviathan’s biggest problem. Not that would be the fact that it was a movie about a deep sea diving expedition who encounters some weird and extraterrestrials goings-on down at the bottom at ocean, which is precisely the story that James “I made Terminator!” Cameron’s vastly superior Abyss was also telling.

Abyss was not only a fantastic study in tension and intrigue, it also boasted what was arguably the greatest computer generated visual effects seen up to that stage. Effects that still look good, even today!

Tombstone & Wyatt Earp

Oh that, George P. Cosmatos, he sure does like to get involved in these movie duels, from creepy underwater battles to legendary Western shootouts. Fortunately for Cosmatos, when it came to telling the story a near mythic American lawman, he came out guns blazing this time around. Now on paper, director Lawrence Kasdan and star Kevin Costner’s sprawling biopic, Wyatt Earp, looks like the sure winner. Featuring the cream of the crop talent of the time both in front of and behind the camera, you’d think that Wyatt Earp would be easily shoot down the much smaller scoped and not quite as star studded Tombstone. Unfortunately for Wyatt Earp though, it was a bloated, overly long film that could have done with taking itself just a little less seriously, whereas Tombstone was a whip-lean, wildly entertaining ride that featured not only the coolest performance of Val Kilmer’s career, but possibly also the greatest bitch slap fest ever put on film.

Top Gun & Iron Eagle

I don’t even think I need to explain myself here. Grown men, to this day, still refer to each other as Maverick or Goose, and if you’re not a fan of “Highway to the Danger Zone” then prepare to be shunned en masse. Tony Scott’s Tom Cruise starring classic was a hit not only the bro-dudes, but also with the ladies as the image of Cruise wooing Kelly McGillis to Berlin’s Take My Breath Away still turns makes kneecaps magically disappear.

The only thing Iron Eagle really brought to the table was Louis Gosset Jr. Don’t believe me, then just wait until it’s playing on eTV again for the umpteenth time to confirm.

Braveheart & Rob Roy

Some interesting facts about me: I owned a VHS copy of Mel Gibson’s Oscar winning epic Braveheart, which I watched so many times that I wore out the tape. I can quote most of the movie’s dialogue by heart and instead of “The Wedding March”, my wife walked into the church on our wedding day to James Horner’s theme from the film. I think you can guess which film I’m going to pick here.

That’s certainly no slight to the Liam Neeson starring Rob Roy though, which if it didn’t find itself going up against another film about a the story of a Scottish hero, would certainly far more fondly remembered.

The Prestige & The Illusionist

Much like with Rob RoyThe Illusionist is a fine film. Director Neil Burger as well as star Edward Norton are at the top their game in this 19th century period drama about an interesting love story between a magician and a beautiful girl, which weaves in the story of very real events and people. Unfortunately for The Illusionist, Christopher just has better game than they did.

Considered by many to be the finest entry on Nolan’s acclaimed filmography, The Prestige features an almost identical premise as its rival, but takes that story and runs with it to produce an ambitiously complex tale of intermingling, time shifted narratives featuring a sweeping love story, a techno-mystery and a gripping rivalry. It’s the type of film that has you completely entranced and utterly mystified right up until its brain melting conclusion. And as soon as it reveals its secrets, you’ll want to go back immediately and see it again.

Last Updated: July 4, 2013

Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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