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Attack of The Killer Clones!
by David Hopson

Hollywood has this nasty habit of trying to leach profit from one projected blockbuster by releasing an identically themed movie directly before or after it. Rant Magazine's David Hopson discusses this trend.

Every time it's the same story. A couple of summers ago it was announced that we could look forward to not one, but two big budget movies about meteors. In unison, the studios claimed that the fact that both would be released within weeks of each other was an eerie coincidence. Yeah right. I suppose that was also the case with Dante's Peak and Volcano a mere summer earlier.

I imagine the studio execs all get together for a poker game every year and it goes something like this:
Exec1: "I'll bet Billy Bob Thornton!"

Exec2: "I'll see that Billy Bob and raise you a Duvall"

Exec1: "Duvall? Please. I'm gonna match that with Ben Affleck in a romantic subplot with Liv Tyler"

Exec2: "ummm... uhhh"

Exec1: "Hurry the FUCK up!"

Exec2: "Ok! Ok! Jesus... Morgan Freeman as the President of The United States"

Exec1: "Hate to do this to ya, bud. I raise Bruce Willis AND an Aerosmith soundtrack" (leans back with a sly grin)

Exec2: "Fold"

Exec1: "So, see ya next spring?"

Exec2: "sure"
Next I would like to compare some notable examples of this "Phenomenon"...
Se7en Vs. Copycat (1995)

In Se7en a serial killer is on the loose and the gimmick is that he bases his handywork on The Seven Deadly Sins. In Copycat a serial killer is on the loose and HIS gimmick is recreating crime scenes of infamous serial killers. Se7en brings Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt to the table while Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter anchor Copycat. Se7en is one of the creepiest movies of all time. David Fincher (Fight Club) creates a dark and claustrophobic masterpiece (Kevin Spacey doesn't hurt either.) Copycat is a good movie and Weaver and Hunter are both great, but the movie suffers from the titular serial killer being out staged by Harry Connick Jr. as yet another serial killer that Sigourney's character put away years earlier.
Volcano vs. Dante's Peak (1997)

Both movies involve Volcanic Eruptions (duh.) In Dante's Peak the eruption takes place in a small city. In Volcano we get to see Los Angeles get destroyed. Dante's Peak starred Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton while Volcano featured Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche. It is fun seeing lava running through the streets of LA and I couldn't care less what happened to the fictional city in Dante's Peak. Dante's Peak did have a more involving story line, but shit blowing up with more frequency and Tommy Lee Jones give Volcano the edge. Both movies basically sucked though.
VERDICT: Volcano
Armageddon vs. Deep Impact (1998)

In both flicks there is a meteor headed towards earth and it is up to the government to save the world from total destruction. Armageddon has so many climaxes that I was ready to take a nap when it was over. The love story involving Liv and Ben is vomit inducing. If Michael Bay would have completely cut the sappy romantic elements and ended the movie 30 minutes earlier then this movie might have been decent. Instead, we are left with a sappy, bloated piece of garbage. Deep Impact is a different story. It runs at a steady clip and it was a clever move to cast Morgan Freeman as the president. Duvall brings an air of dignity to the proceedings, as usual.
VERDICT: Deep Impact
A Bug's Life vs. Antz (1998)
Both of the heroes in these movies are members of the Hymenoptera phylum who are being oppressed. A Bug's Life features, ex-Kid in The Hall, David Foley as "Flick." He is always screwing stuff up and winds up being banished from his colony. Kevin Spacey does the voice of Hopper, the evil leader of the Grasshoppers. In Antz, Woody Allen plays an ant named Z-4195. He is trying to win the love of Bala, The ant-Princess (Sharon Stone.) The computer generated effects in both movies are superb, but Antz just isn't as much fun. A Bug's Life is the better "Flick."
VERDICT: A Bug's Life
Stir of Echoes vs. the Sixth Sense (1999)

****************************SPOILER ALERT!****************************
Both movies feature child actors who "see dead people." Haley Joel Osment and Zachary David Cope both do outstanding jobs in these roles. Kevin Bacon also sees dead people, through the wonders of hypnosis, and Bruce Willis turns out to actually BE a dead person. This is a tough call because I thoroughly enjoyed both of these movies. The twists are better disguised in The Sixth Sense and Bruce Willis turns in one of his better performances. Stir of Echoes telegraphs a lot of it's punches, but compensates by including one twist after the other. My biggest gripe about Stir of Echoes is that that the ending is better suited for a slasher movie. Kevin Bacon does a bang up job in his role as an everyday guy gradually sliding over the edge in Stir of Echoes.
This summer you can bet your ass that there will be more movies with similar or identical themes coming to a box-office near you. You can also bet your ass that people will come in droves to watch these movies. My guess is that Gladiator will likely spawn a rash of imitators. One more thing you can bank on is that I will be amongst the herd.

So what am I bitching about?

God Bless Hollywood.

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=207
originally posted: 05/11/00 14:09:14
last updated: 07/12/00 10:37:56
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