The Watchers

The Watchers

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Mini-Countdown: Twin Films

Currently in the cinemas is The Legend Of Hercules with Twilight alum Kellan Lutz in the titular role. In a few months' time, a second film- just entitled Hercules- hits the screens, with Dwayne Johnson in the lead. It seems to be happening more and more frequently that separate studios are releasing separate films that share a plot, although its been happening for years. In fact, it's happening frequently enough in order for the phenomenon to have a name: twin films. 

So, to reinforce the world-worn notion that there is nothing new under the sun, here are five examples of twin films. And to prove that this isn't just the province of disaster movies, I've included a biopic and some fantasy films as well.

1. Volcano and Dante's Peak (both 1997)

Volcano disaster movies are a bit like buses. You wait for ages and two come along at once. In the red corner, Dante's Peak, starring Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton. In the blue corner, the imaginately titled Volcano starring Tommy Lee Jones and Anne Heche. Both passable actioners but you may be hard pushed to find people who can name both; most people will probably go for Dante's Peak if you ask if they remember a volcano disaster movie coming out in 1997.

2. White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen (both 2013)

If the world was in need of a White-House-in-peril pic, that need was more than adequately met with just one of these lunkheaded actioners, so having two within the space of three months seems a bit like overkill. Either way, the plot is broadly similar: secret agent (Gerard Butler/Channing Tatum) has to save the President (Aaron Eckhart/Jamie Foxx) from a terrorist threat (North Koreans/generic mercenaries). So far, so-so. Apparently, Sony has largely blamed White House Down for a $197m loss made over the summer 2013. Maybe watch Olympus Has Fallen instead?

3. Snow White And The Huntsman and Mirror Mirror (both 2012)

Within months of each other, Universal Pictures and Relativity Media/Fox released their takes on the classic fairytale. Mirror Mirror is a candy-coloured concoction with Julia Roberts camping it up something rotten as the Wicked Queen throwing side-eye at Lily Collins, whilst Snow White And The Huntsman was a mark darker affair with a vampish Charlize Theron seeking to do away with the sullen charisma vacuum that is Kristin Stewart. The latter film also became better known for off-screen shenanigans between the leading lady and the director which overshadowed things somewhat. Apparently, a sequel is in the works.

4. Capote (2005) and Infamous (2006)

It's a shame that the timing of these two Truman Capote biopics couldn't have been better spaced out. Infamous isn't a bad film per se, but it really suffered coming so close behind the admittedly better Capote which is a much straighter account of Capote's writing of In Cold Blood. Infamous gets a bit more fanciful and more insubstantial with a talking-heads style which jars with the later story. Whilst Capote was lauded by the critics and won the late Philip Seymour Hoffman a Best Actor Oscar, Infamous slunk past virtually unnoticed despite great performances by Toby Jones (as Capote) and Sandra Bullock (as Harper Lee). 

5. Robin Hood and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (both 1991)

Not that you would have known it, but there were actually two films about Robin Hood released in 1991. Sadly, the other one- with Patrick Bergin as Robin Hood and Uma Thurman as Maid Marian- sank without trace against the juggernaut that was Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. You couldn't move during that summer without hearing 'Everything I Do (I Do It For You)'. But then again, it does have Alan Rickman at his snarling, sarcastic best so swings and roundabouts.

There are dozens of other examples of this - Antz and A Bug's Life, Deep Impact and Armageddon, Wyatt Earp and Tombstone. If you can think of any more, let us know in the comments below!

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