As I’m not a fourteen-year-old girl and it’s not 2009, I wouldn’t call myself a Taylor Lautner fan. Granted, I haven’t seen everything in his filmography, but he’s a relatively competent actor in everything I have seen him in. When I learned about his latest film Tracers, I was intrigued that the premise sounded so similar to 2012’s Premium Rush, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Michael Shannon. Both feature bike messengers, some vague Asian mafia, crooked federal employees and also act as how-to guides of what not to do when you’re biking around a city.
Tracers distances itself from Premium Rush by adding parkour into the mix. I thought they were going to build up to the parkour, but no, they drop it in without much explanation. Are there really gangs of at-risk youth doing parkour in New York City? If so, I need to buy myself a pair of American Eagle jeans and move there ASAP.
While both are fairly decent action movies, I gotta give the edge to Premium Rush. It opens with “Baba O’riley”, features the band Sleigh Bells and Michael Shannon’s gambling addict antagonist reaches Nicolas Cage levels of hilarious overacting. Still, Tracers is pretty solid. Neither are Citizen Kane, though.
Anyway, watching Tracers got me thinking of other movies with similar premises. Often these movies get released within a few months of each other and can give audience members a case of déjà vu. Blame it on some kind of filmmaking multiple discovery theory, competing studios or Hollywood’s broken down originality machine.
We’ll experience such repetitive redundancy in 2016 with Jon Favreau’s remake of Disney’s musical version of The Jungle Book followed by Andy Serkis’ directorial debut of the horribly titled Jungle Book: Origins in 2017. It’s supposed to be a closer adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s original stories–no songs or kingly orangutans. Favreau’s cast boasts Bill Murray as Baloo, Idris Elba as Shere Khan, Ben Kingsley as Bagheera and Scarlett Johansson as Kaa. Serkis, on the other hand, will be playing Baloo and has Benedict Cumberbatch, Christian Bale and Cate Blanchett portraying the other roles, respectively. This is one of the only times when I’m actually interested in both versions; the two casts are enough to get my butt in the cinema.
Here are some other movies from the last few years with similar premises. You be the judge on which one was better.
The Illusionist (September 2006) vs The Prestige (October 2006)
Released about a month apart, both feature magicians magicking stuff up, but only one has Michael Caine. I’ve always wanted to but have not yet seen The Illusionist. The Prestige, however, is my favorite movie from Christopher Nolan and one that reveals something new with each subsequent viewing. With a box office gross $14 million more than The Illusionist, it seems like audiences liked The Prestige too.
Happy Feet (November 2006) vs Surf’s Up (June 2007)
Both are computer animated. One features the voice of Robin Williams. The other features the voice of Shia Labeouf. Both are about penguins doing stuff that penguins don’t do, like winning the Stanley Cup more than three times. Oh snap! What do you put on a freezer burn? Because, you know, ice … This is why I don’t write about sports. Happy Feet made over three times as much as Surf’s Up, perhaps indicative that audience fatigue with penguins reached its peak that started in 2005 with March of the Penguins.
No Strings Attached (January 2011) vs Friends with Benefits (July 2011)
Beautiful people don’t want feelings to get in the way of all the beautiful-people sex they have. Spoiler alert: feelings get in the way. It seems like by the time Friends with Benefits came out, audiences were tired of seeing physically perfect specimens on display; it made about $15 million less than No Strings Attached. Still, it probably made more than it would have if it had starred a pair like John Goodman and Roseanne Barr.
Mirror Mirror (March 2012) vs Snow White and the Huntsman (June 2012)
One features actual little people playing the seven dwarves, the other is a veritable who’s who of English actors portraying the dwarves with camera trickery. Both were largely forgettable and although Snow White and the Huntsman made more than twice as much at the box office as Mirror Mirror, it still came about $15 million short of making back its budget. Currently, there are no plans for Disney to remake its own version (yet).
Olympus Has Fallen (March 2013) vs White House Down (June 2013)
The White House is under attack and only a beefy guy can save the president. Olympus Has Fallen not only made back its $70 million budget, but also out-grossed White House Down by a whopping near-$26 million. Kim Jong Un got upset about The Interview but these two films came out within just three months and featured wanton destruction of our nation’s capital and no one batted an eye. There’s some kind of commentary to be made about that, but I’m not the one to make it.
Do you find different films with similar concepts redundant or does it not bother you at all? Let us know in the comments below!