10 April 2006

Is Noah in Charge of Movie Ideas?

Why are there 2 of every kind? And why do they always come out within a year of each other? It's one thing when the super hero genre becomes profitable, or science fiction films ride on the coattails of Star Wars. Capitalizing on the success of a big hit makes sense, but its another thing altogether when the films are based on such specific and similar ideas. All of a sudden asteroids are a big craze that everyone wants a double dose of!? Why? Often these films are in a race to get to the big screen, as if there is some desperate insatiable demand out there waiting to be fed. Lets examine some of the most blatant examples.

Lets start with one of the worst offenders opening this week: Madagascar (2005) vs. The Wild (2006)
Granted, I haven't seen either, but I am not sure which one is which. Both seem to be about zoo animals that escape a New York zoo and travel to Africa for one reason or another. Both have a lion and giraffe, but I think only one has a koala and the other has some penguins. Really, this is probably the worst offender since the Go-Bots ripped off the Transformers. Noah would really like this pair since its full of animals, except that I don't know how well two male lions would do at propagating their species. I hear they are also making Madagascar 2, as if this tale really needs to be told 3 times. Some people may really be thrown though when they think they have already seen part 2 (assuming anyone actually sees The Wild).

A few years back, the threat of reality TV inspired the next showdown: The Truman Show (1998) vs. EdTV (1999)
Both were sort of "scary" possible futures for TV shows where peoples personal lives were invaded and made into TV shows. The only real difference was that Truman didn't know he was on while Ed did. I guess that tiny difference constitutes viable intellectual property. Ah what a genius spin. Little did we realize that pretty soon half of prime time would be shows making these "crazy" movie premises seem tame.

The end of the world: Armageddon (1998) vs. Deep Impact (1998)
To be fair, Armageddon was about an asteroid as compared to Impacts deadly comet. Other interesting differences, if a comet was destroyed as proposed in Deep Impact, the resulting debris would cause so much friction that the Earth's atmosphere would rise killing off all life-- even without the titular impact. Sadly, Armageddon was the more scientifically sound with the splitting of the mass to avoid Earth entirely. I am not making this up either, I heard it form a seminar at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories. Its nice to know that people aren't too worried about death from big rocks anymore.

Insects had their 15 minutes with Antz (1998) vs. A Bug's Life (1998)
1998 was a real year in the creative doldrums I guess, this being the third pair of offenders that year. I guess it's unanimous that ants are the good guys of the insect kingdom, as both focus on a day in the life of our six-legged friends. I guess that is because ants aren't really gross (like spiders or grasshoppers), though they are pretty annoying when you find them in your picnic basket. I guess that we learn all we cared to about how bugs spend their time. Lucky us.

All of a sudden the ocean became mysterious with a triple threat: The Abyss (1989) vs. Leviathan (1989) vs. Deep Star Six (1989)
I am pretty sure all of these have aliens or monsters living in the ocean depths. I remember being bombarded by commercials for these three and really wondering why there were so many movies on the topic. Its been 17 years, aren't we about due for another journey to the deep? Maybe we will get 3 more all at the same time.

All the good ol' west: Tombstone (1993) vs. Wyatt Earp (1994)
So Wyatt Earp is a fairly interesting fellow, but he died in 1929. Is 64 years a good amount of time for an anniversary celebration?

Another animated showdown: Finding Nemo (2003) vs. Shark Tale (2004)
I am sure Troy McClure wouldn't complain of this fishy onslaught, but it was bit much for me. The ocean sure is wondrous, but its not big enough for quite so many fish stories.

Another disaster averted: Dante's Peak (1997) vs. Volcano (1997)
People in the 1990's loved looking for creative ways to die. From asteroids to volcanoes, nature had it out for mankind. Are we really worried that a stream of lava will be our doom? I always though Los Angelino's had to worry about earthquakes... As if that wasn't enough. Both movies were lame, so it's a good thing we got 2 of them.

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