Sweaty man: “OK guys, I have a great idea, listen to this. Gimme all of your cash to make a CGI-animated story of the life of a loser-type ant whose madcap ideas somehow save his failing colony? It will be hilarious!”
Executive 1: “You mean Disney’s A Bug’s Life?”
Sweaty man: “Yeah, but we can make it quicker than theirs and it will save us on the marketing costs when idiot children and their idiot parents accidentally attend our film instead! That’s what I meant by it being hilarious.”
Executive 2: “I like it, but we need a catchy name for it. Let’s attract the older crowd. The ones with all the money.”
Sweaty man: “Ants?”
Executive 1: “Say what you see. Ahem…”
Executive 2: “That’s crap. Awful. This is a terrible idea.”
Sweaty man: “OK something edgy – throw a ‘Z’ in there!”
Executive 1: “Antz?”
Executive 2: “Sold.”
I doubt it was anything like this but it’s more than a coincidence that these 2 films were released within a month of each other. Jeffrey Katzenberg (Dreamworks CEO) was a ex-employee of Disney and his friendship with John Lasseter meant he had insider knowledge of the second feature film Pixar were due to release following the huge success of Toy Story (1995). But this cheap impersonation was better than the straight-to-video efforts (aka a Mockbuster) you see in the supermarkets, with big-name stars on the cast and more promotion (and production time) than the conversation above suggests. But which is the best? It’s the originality we’ve now become accustomed to with a Pixar flick (pun intended) which wins the day here, rightly so A Bugs Life will live long in the memory and for almost everyone who has had the pleasure of watching it, there’s a world we’d all welcome a return to whether that be a sequel, a spin-off, or a re-run on TV – watch this space! We’ve been here before you know…
Dante’s Peak vs. Volcano (1997) A volcano-themed-disaster-movie – Dante’s Peak, not just for it’s more subtle title, just edges this battle. The two are on equal footing with it’s graphics but the key to a disaster movie is willing to go on the journey with the main characters and emotionally investing in their survival. Watching Volcano, you kind of just wanted to see them cram in as much destruction as possible.
Deep Impact vs. Armageddon (1998) A comet-heading-for-Earth-themed-disaster-movie – maybe Hollywood cottoned on to the points I made above as both of these go for the human side of the story as opposed to the sheer scale of the disaster, but it’s Armageddon which comes out on top for me. Less complicated to be honest, more of a stretch of imagination and very much dumbed down for the summer blockbuster audience but ultimately the more enjoyable of the two. Although I have to take points off for Aerosmith’s theme song, it really grated on me.
Entrapment vs. The Thomas Crown Affair
(1999) An unlikely older than you might guess cat burglar seduces the woman investigating his crimes – both very stylish efforts, great casting too but I just have to go for The Thomas Crown Affair on this one. I’ve watched it far too many times not to. Great soundtrack, more than a few nods to the original, very clever plot and set pieces, it’s fucking James Bond man (!) albeit on his day off.
The Illusionist vs. The Prestige (2006) 1800s magic man with a sinister side – Christopher Nolan and his stellar cast win this one. Neat idea, nice twist. Not his best but The Illusionist carries enough of Nolan’s magic behind the camera to the silver screen. Also, I can’t ever hear Thom Yorke’s Analyse without thinking of the closing scenes and rolling credits. That’s always a sign of a good cinematic experience.
Dispicable Me vs. Megamind (2010) Animated tale of a super-villain who is actually not too bad – I actually don’t believe these were made intentionally to rival one another, but Dispicable Me outright knocks this one out of the park. A film where we celebrate the baddie of the piece has been a common idea, especially when it comes to superheroes. Think about it, do you enjoy watching Batman or the scenes where his arch nemesis The Joker is more on screen? Steve Carrell is hilarious, the Minions, although a quite obvious idea, are awesomely executed, and the whole concept has got legs. The crowds asked for sequels and by golly they got them.
Friends with Benefits vs. No Strings Attached (2011) Modern romcom, as strictly sexual relationship turns into one of love and strong feelings despite their best intentions – Friends With Benefits shades it, it’s a typical romcom which isn’t too much about the sex despite what you might think. And there’s a great chemistry between Kunis and Trousersnake. A time when being cocky and full of shit actually does you no harm. But for the record, he’ll never make a good actor, I thought he was awful in The Social Network (2010).
The Jungle Book vs. The Jungle Book: Origins (2016) A live-action telling of Rudyard Kipling’s classic stories – neither are out just yet but I get the feeling there’s been a switch-a-roo here with Disney attempting to high jack a potential hit. To be fair the original movie is a classic telling of the story, and I’m sure the version more closer to the original book will offer enough to make it worth viewing. To be fair you have to say the casts for both make this the most epic of cinematic rivalries! Only the trailer for Disney’s version is available just now, listen out for the inclusion of the 1967 soundtrack: