The Horrible Phenomenon of Twin Movies


There’s an odd phenomenon in movies, something that happens far more often than probable to chalk it up to pure coincidence. It’s been referred to as “Twin Films”, and you have without question noticed it before. Simply put, a Twin Film is a movie that has an extremely similar plot to another movie that is released at or around the same time. These movies are both put out by major studios, and often one of them is a blockbuster movie that pulls in hundreds of millions of dollars.

These aren’t to be confused with Mockbuster movies; mockbuster’s are direct to DVD movies that ride on the coattails of major studio releases. Mockbusters have similar names to the bigger movies, meant to trick people into buying what they thought was the blockbuster movie they really wanted to see. Basically, mockbusters are meant to fool grandparents into getting their grandkids movies that they’ll hate.

Poor Gramma

She tries so hard.

Anyway, Twin Films have been happening for decades. I often like one of them more than the other, and it’s not always the more popular movie. This also happens in television, but for today I’m  just going to talk about movies. So here’s a list of some notable Twin Movies, and some thoughts I have about them.

1986 – Top Gun / Iron Eagle 1

OK, back in 1986, I loved them both. I admit this. But Iron Eagle just didn’t age very well, at all, and has gone unviewed for over a decade now.

1986/1987 – Platoon / Full Metal Jacket (and possibly 1987’s Hamburger Hill) 2

These are both great films, then and now. I think FMJ held up a little better over the years, but that could just be the ‘Kubrick Effect’… ok that’s not really a term, but I like it and I’m going to start using it.

Anyway, you could also make the argument that the 1987 movie Hamburger Hill could be included with Platoon and FMJ as another Twin Film. It’s also a great movie, but a bit different than the other two, because it keeps a much tighter focus on a single storyline and event. I would include it in the mix, but that’s debatable, with no right or wrong answer.

1989 – The Abyss / Leviathan 3

Simply put, Abyss is amazing, Leviathan is not. I felt that then, I feel it now, I’ll feel it forever.

 1989 – Turner & Hooch / K-9 4

Really, both of these kinda suck. But I mention them because this is the first time I really took note of the fact that twin movies were kind of “a thing” that happens. Do yourself a favor though and don’t watch either of them.

 1993/1994 – Tombstone / Wyatt Earp 5

Tombstone is the obvious winner here. Wyatt Earp was arguably the first in a string of Kevin Costner stinkers (Waterworld came soon after, followed by The Postman) that he still probably has nightmares about.

1995 – Braveheart / Rob Roy 6

I love them both, but for different reasons. Rob Roy is just a better built movie, but Braveheart is the more enjoyable film. You won’t be upset watching either of these, you’ll have more fun watching Braveheart but you’ll feel more smug saying you watched Rob Roy.

1995 – Johnny Mnemonic / Strange Days 7

While these two are similar at first appearance, I find them to be very different in overall ideas. Johnny Mnememeomicabic is classic cyberpunk adventure, and is a real blast to watch. Even with Neo’s  Keanu’s wooden acting. Strange Days on the other hand is a look at how technology could become addictive, and how addiction can screw up your life and not let you move forward. Sadly, Strange Days doesn’t hold up very well, because it’s set at a very specific point in time, the Y2K era, and it most definitely got the level of technology , and the state of society, completely wrong for Y2K.

1997 – Dante’s Peak / Volcano 8

Volcano blows. It just does. There’s nothing about this movie that should have been OK’d by studio execs. Dante’s Peak isn’t much better, but it gets the win here.

 1998 – Armageddon / Deep Impact 9

Armageddon may have won the box office numbers between these two movies, but it also cost twice as much to make, and was the far worse movie. Yes, it can be fun to watch in parts, but it’s so monumentally stupid that I get angry every time I see it. Deep Impact is the winner here.

A fun side note about Deep Impact is that it was the highest grossing movie in the U.S. directed by a woman, a distinction it held for a full decade. It was stripped of this title by the Twilight movie in 2008… I weep for humanity.

1998 – A Bug’s Life / Antz 10

Both were pretty good, actually, and hold up well today. Really can’t go wrong seeing either one.

1998… again/1999 – The Truman Show / EdTV 11

Apparently in the late ‘90’s, studio execs just got monumentally lazy, because here’s another pair of movies from that time.

Both are fun movies, and it’s actually kind of arguable just how similar they are. EdTV is set in a much more realistic manner, with a normal guy just being filmed all day, every day. Truman though is a much more complex, sci-fi, dystopian take on how far reality TV could go. I like them both, but the nerd in me prefers Truman. Also, Truman had Natascha McElhone in it, who was a celebrity crush of mine at the time, so it wins there too.

2000 – Mission to Mars / Red Planet 12

Both aren’t very good, but I can re-watch Red Planet on TNT late at night and be OK with my life choices, where as M2M I just can’t handle another viewing without thinking I may have made some mistakes along the way to adulthood.

 2006 – The Prestige / The Illusionist 13

I love The Prestige. I mean, just love it. And David Bowie as Tesla was divine casting, they could not have done any better for that role. The Illusionist is also very good, though it never quite captured me the same way Prestige did. That said, I haven’t seen either of these movies in many years, so it may be time to re-watch both. In fact, it looks like I just figured out my Friday night plans.

 2013 – White House Down / Olympus Has Fallen 14

Why did they make these? No really, whyyyyyyyyyy? Both steaming piles.

And finally, here are some other select Twin Films of note that I haven’t seen one, or both, of the pair. I present these though without comments.

1995 – Babe / Gordy

1995/1995 – Showgirls / Striptease

2006 – Capote / Infamous

2009/2010 – The Road / Book of Eli

2012 – Snow White and the Huntsman / Mirror, Mirror

2013 – After Earth / Oblivion

Anyway, there are actually a ton more of these. Really, they happen practically every single year, often more than once a year. But most of them just simply slip under my radar.

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Danger, Alien Will Robinson, Danger!


It’s true. And if you’re travelling through interstellar space, here’s a short little video explaining why you should just steer clear of Earth and all its nasty, violent humans.

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Television Premiere Dates – 2013-14 Season – Final Post

OK TV nerds:

So first I should point out that there are a few more shows worth quickly mentioning premiering soon (or that just premiered)… White Collar on USA just aired a couple days ago; Grimm and Dracula on NBC both premiere on October 25th at 9PM and 10PM; Almost Human premieres on FOX on November 4that 8PM; Atlantis airs on BBC America on November 23rd; and finally Ripper Street premieres on BBC America on December 1st at 10PM.

Now, here are a few of my thoughts about some of the shows I mentioned the past couple of weeks.

Legend of Korra: I’m liking it a lot better than the first season, and I liked the first season. It has a more epic scale feel to it.

Bones: Better than last season, by a long shot. Still don’t think it’s nearly as good as it used to be though. In fact, I’d still call it pretty bad. For now though, it remains on the DVR.

Sleepy Hollow: It’s a terrible show, but a well made terrible show with good acting (especially the main dude), and a legitimately great ability to be creepy. So it never made it to the DVR, but I have been watching it on Hulu.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: I watched the first episode, but no episode after that. Sounds like I’m not the only one who did that either, as the ratings dropped significantly, and it’s likely to get cancelled.

Castle: Loving this season… they handled the cliffhanger from last season really well. Probably the show I’m most enjoying on TV right now.

Hostages: I’ve been watching it on Hulu… the story is just too ridiculous to be even slightly believable. Also, the show should have ended after the very first episode. It’ll probably be cancelled, no real loss.

Blacklist: It’s really pretty darn good. It still makes me laugh that NBC has two Red Dragon based shows, but honestly they’re both good so good on them. And James Spader is amazeballs.

SHIELD: Honestly? It’s just good, not great. But I’ve been enjoying it. And since it’s a Joss show, I expect it to keep improving and eventually get great.

Person of Interest: As good as always, and the addition of Root as a cast regular is a smart move, because that character (and actor) is awesome.

Glee: I never started the new season… just couldn’t work up the energy to care about it again enough to watch it. So it’s been dropped from my viewing. (Katherine is still planning on watching it though… eventually)

Grey’s Anatomy: Still stupid. Still ridiculous. Still super fun.

Michael J. Fox: I watched the first episode. Not bad actually. I’m still not really into 30 minute shows, but this one was pretty good. And MJF still has it. The pacing and writing made me think of an Aaron Sorkin show, but on speed… witty, smart, snarky, but reeeeeealy fast. Still, I doubt I’ll be continuing watching it.

So there you go.

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Television Premiere Dates – 2013-14 Season – Week 5

TV geeks, it’s a CW Network-heavy lineup this week, with a few other shows of note out there. Also of note is that three of the new shows this week are either spin-offs, or an in-series spinoffy rebooty thingamajig.

Tuesday 10/8:
8PM – CW – The Originals (A “Vampire Diaries” spinoff, set in New Orleans. I’ve heard that VD is a fun show, though I’ve never seen it. Who knows though if this will be any good or not.)
9PM – CW – Supernatural (Another show I haven’t seen, but is supposed to be good. Maybe one day I’ll catch up.)

Wednesday 10/9:
8PM – CW – Arrow (I’ve been saying a lot recently that the CW Network is making legitimately good shows, and this is probably the best example of that right now. This show is thoughtful, complex, action-packed, fun, serious, funny… it’s really quite good.)
9PM – CW – The Tomorrow People (Based on the British show of the same name (that itself had three different series… first in the 1970’s, then again in the 90’s, and then again in the mid 00’s), it’s about people evolving special powers… given the CW’s track record, and the fact that it’s based on a British show, I’d give this show good odds to be pretty great.)
10PM – FX – American Horror Story: The Coven (This is the in-series reboot-spinoff thingy… the third season of the show once again brings an all new story. I know a few people who are absolutely crazy about this show, though yet again I haven’t watched it myself.)

Thursday 10/10:
8PM – ABC – Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (A spinoff of OUaT, I really like the first show. Who knows if this will be any good or not though.)

Sunday 10/13:
9PM – AMC – The Walking Dead (Zombies are back! Woohoo!)

So there’s my list for this week. Looks like I have to get to programming my DVR.

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Television Premiere Dates – 2013-14 Season – Week 4

TV geeks, not much to list this week, but here’s what there is.

Wednesday 10/2:
10PM – NBC – Ironside (This looks to be a remake of the 60’s-70’s show of the same name… I’m dubious, but it’s worth mentioning that it’s happening)

Thursday 10/3:
8PM – CW – The Vampire Diaries (I’ve never seen the show, but I hear it’s decent enough)

Honestly, that’s all I can find for this coming week that’s worth mentioning. Anyone else have anything airing this week worth watching? Because I got nothin’ new I’m tuning into this week.

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Far Cry 3 Review: Violence begets violence.


THERE ARE SPOILERS BELOW. Not big ones, BUT STILL SPOILERS. SO STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED. Allrighty then, now that that’s taken care of, let us continue on to the review…

Let’s get one thing out of the way from the start… if you’ve played Far Cry 2, you’ve essentially played Far Cry 3. There’s definite improvements over the older game, but at its very basic structure the games are the same. Which, frankly, is a good thing, because FC2 was a good game, and the new game is more than a couple steps up over it.

As any open world game, you get out of it what you put into it. Exploring the countryside is usually worth the effort as you’ll find something you didn’t expect. That first time I stumbled on a hang glider in FC3 I thought to myself “Wait, this is something I don’t have to unlock? I can just fly this now?” and happily threw my character into the great void beyond the cliff’s edge, fabric wings strapped to my back. But what makes Far Cry 3 special is that the story that accompanies the game is actually very solid.

Your character, Jason Brody, wakes up in a cage with his friends, after a skydiving trip landed them smack in the middle of an island’s pirate leader’s clutches.  Your character is just a normal guy, but his brother is ex-military, and he manages to break you two free. Unfortunately, that last bit was the best news for those characters, as things quickly devolve into terrible bloody chaos for them, leaving young Jason alone on an island, chased by pirates, with his friends and family still imprisoned by the pirates.


These are not good people to have chasing after you. And I’m pretty sure they’re not going to do nice things to the woman.

From that point, the story centers around Jason’s rise from bumbling playboy, to murdering sociopath, as he works to free his friends and escape the island, descending into darkness along the way.  When early on the thought of even using a pistol is hard for him, he later takes gleeful pleasure in burning people alive with a flamethrower. And the game rewards the player with extra experience the more creatively you murder off your foes.


Did I hear someone mention burning people alive with a flamethrower? Don’t mind if I do!

Throughout this journey, you have access to one of the most gorgeous settings in games out there. The jungle island feels complete, not just with the landscape, and the humans, but also the wildlife. I once abandoned a mission early on in my playthrough because I noticed off to my left a leopard hunting a wild boar, and I wanted to see how it played out (in the end, the boar was toast). Views from up high seem to stretch forever, and there’s nothing quite like a nighttime view from up high, watching a lone jeep’s headlights as it drives up a jungle road.


Having your enemies attacked by wildlife was also always a lot of fun to watch unfold as well.

Weapon selection is good, though by the end I found I had just a small set of weapons I went to every single time I walked out into the jungle. I probably would have had a little more fun had I taken the time to use the other weapons more frequently. But that’s a hard choice to make when you know for a fact that the weapon selection you have outfitted Jason with will get you out of 99% of any situation you’ll find yourself it.  

Syringes are another aspect of the game that you unlock as you progress through the missions, and frankly they’re also the main fault in the game. With powerful enough weapons Jason becomes a one man army unto himself, but he’s still not invulnerable and needs to be careful about just running into a firefight like some 15 year old wanker playing COD. But with syringes? He becomes unkillable. Literally. Various syringes give him different powers for a limited time, but the strongest of them make him bulletproof, bombproof, deathproof. And that makes the game not nearly as fun. I found myself in the very end missions avoiding using these syringes specifically because they did help me so much.

That said, there’s one thing, throughout the game that always, always made me quake in my digital boots. Fucking Tigers. Seriously, one of those things catches you off guard, and you are royally fucked. You won’t have enough time to use one of your invincibility syringes, you won’t have enough time to run away, and guns do practically nothing to them. No, you will end up as tiger food. Plain and simple. Yummy, tattoo covered tiger food. No, that guy with the .50 caliber machine gun isn’t that threatening, you can always duck and cover from him. But tigers? Scourge of the freaking jungle.


That’s my body that tiger is lunching on.

But the game’s difficulty isn’t what makes the game special. And the game truly is special. Far Cry 3 makes you reconsider, as a player, your enjoyment of violence and violent video games. As Jason makes the transition from kid to killer, you the player start to realize that as much fun as Jason is having, and as much fun as you are having as the player, what you are enjoying is really kind of horrible. I know, I’m not the first person to have mentioned this in a review, but it’s still worth mentioning again. As much fun as I had playing the game, in the end I did spend a little time thinking about how much I enjoyed mowing down dozens of pirates. And then, right after that, I grabbed my guns, and headed back out into the wilderness to hunt tigers. Because seriously, fuck those things.  


Wait, where the fuck did you come from?


Hold on a second, can’t we talk this out? Fuckfuckfuckfuckfuck.


Motherfuckergoddamnit. Not again.

Rating: 7.5 (45/60)

Gameplay:            8

Little to complain about; the controls are well placed and the mission structure is evenly paced. The open-world aspect works very well, with lots to explore.

Difficulty:            5

It’s hard at first, but quickly becomes easy. Too easy… as you quickly improve your skills, weapons, and most notably your special ability syringes, it gets to the point where it becomes almost impossible to die. Except for the tigers.

Tech:                        8

I didn’t run into any major glitches in my run through. And it’s gorgeous. And the use of music during certain missions was well picked. That said the load screen every time I died was annoyingly long, and the map interface always took longer to pull up than I would have liked. For something that you need to access on a very frequent basis, that should pull up a lot faster.

Story:                        9

An interesting story, trippy in parts, and very interesting main character development.

Characters:            7

There are some decent supporting characters, and the first Big Bad is a great character. The main character is arguably the best aspect of the game. But overall most characters felt underdeveloped and underutilized.

Fun:                        8

You can make of this game whatever you want, like any open-world game. It does get repetitive after some time however, and the lack of difficulty really hurt the fun factor by the end. That said, the most fun I’ve had playing any game in recent memory was a certain flamethrower mission in this game.

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Television Premiere Dates – 2013-14 Season – Week 3

OK TV nerds, this is a big week of season and series premieres. There’s lots of good stuff coming up, so this list is going to be long.

Monday 9/23:
10PM – ABC – Castle (I can’t get enough of this show)
10PM – CBS – Hostages (I dunno… could be interesting, could be crap)
10PM – NBC – The Blacklist (OK, so this is NBC’s second show based on Red Dragon (of Hannibal Lecter fame), so I’m a bit leery of it. That said, it stars James Spader, and Spader can do no wrong, so it’s worth checking out)

Tuesday 9/24:
8PM – ABC – Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (First, from here on out I’m calling this “Shield”. Second, I CAN NOT WAIT for this show, and the return of Joss Whedon to TV)
10PM – CBS – Person of Interest (Yeay!)

Wednesday 9/25:
10PM – Comedy – South Park (yet another season of insulting absolutely everyone)

Thursday 9/26:
8PM – CBS – Big Bang Theory (I don’t watch it, but pretty much everyone else on the planet does, so enjoy)
9PM – FOX – Glee (More singing, more draaaaaaama)
9PM – Grey’s Anatomy – ABC (I love this show and I don’t care what you think. Yes, it’s terrible, but I love it)
9PM – Michael J. Fox Show – NBC (MJF returns to TV, basically as himself. And kudos to NBC for casting someone with Parkinsons, even if it is MJF)

So that’s it. Or at least, that’s what I care about this week.

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