Deep Impact vs. Armageddon (1998)
Pitch: Man, sure sucks that asteroids are coming to destroy the world.
Crucial Differences: Deep Impact is a story of love, hope, and survival in the face of natural disaster. Armageddon is about EXPLOSIONS! (There's also a subplot about how the laws of physics are stupid.) Strangely enough, though, it's the former that makes good on its promise of having an asteroid (comet, whatever) actually hit Earth.
Winner: Deep Impact. Although Armageddon has the right cast and more blockbuster appeal, we can't honestly recommend any movie that willingly unleashed Aerosmith's "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing" on middle school dances everywhere.
The Truman Show vs. EdTV (1998/1999)
Pitch: Reality TV is evil!
Crucial Differences: The star of The Truman Show (Jim Carrey) doesn't know he' on TV, whereas the star of EdTV (Matthew McConaughey) does know he' on TV. You can tell Truman is unaware of the fact that he' being watched because he' played by Jim Carrey, and yet doesn't talk through his ass once throughout the entire film. In fact, he doesn't do much of anything. Sound boring? It is! Just like the show the movie' about! How' that for realistic filmmaking?
Winner: While Truman Show is a little self-serious, we're not sure that anyone even saw EdTV-which is sort of problematic when the whole point of your movie is "Americans are so stupid, they'll watch anything." Apparently that depends on whether or not it stars Matthew McConaughey.
Mission to Mars vs. Red Planet (2000)
Pitch: B-list celebrities with a need to fund expensive sex addictions become stranded on Mars.
Crucial Differences: One's got Jerry O'Connell as a rocket scientist; the other has Tom Sizemore as an experimental geneticist. Take your pick.
Winner: Honestly, in 2000, we couldn't pick one crappy Mars movie to be marginally better than the other crappy Mars movie, so we just went and saw Gladiator for the sixth time.
The Cave vs. The Descent (2005)
Pitch: Caves! They're like big, underground haunted houses!
Crucial Differences: Pretend you are the director of The Cave. You convinced your cast to spend four months freezing their ass off in a hole in the middle of Romania to get that "authentic cave vibe." How to explain, then, why your sets and effects still look cheesy compared to that other movie's, whose actors spent five weeks on a heated back-lot soundstage?
Winner: The Descent is a layered, engaging horror film. The Cave has an actual cave. It's your call.
Garden State vs. Elizabethtown (2005/2006)
Pitch: Turning thirty is depressing. Time to go back home, listen to pop rock, and get a quirky love interest played by a well-known Hollywood starlet.
Crucial Difference: See, in one, Zach Braff's mother dies, while in the other, it's Orlando Bloom's father"Â¦ Never mind. Finer plot details aside, check out the balls on Braff for writing a movie in which Natalie Portman wants him to bone her. On the contrary, in a world where Zach Braff has a Grammy for scoring a movie with his favorite mix-tape, do we really need to worry about global warming?
Winner: As much as it hurts us to endorse JD from Scrubs over the guy who made Almost Famous, Garden State is still the better film.
The Illusionist vs. The Prestige (2006)
Pitch: Let's invent a premise so unique, there's no way our competition will come out with something similar! I'm thinking a movie about obsession and love between lifetime rivals, set against the backdrop of Victorian era magic! Let's see them copy th- they're making what now?
Crucial Differences: Despite each being billed as "that other magician movie," only the Hugh Jackman/Christian Bale vehicle The Prestige is really about magic. The Illusionist just uses magic as a draw to trick you into watching a period romance, which in turn ends up just being an exercise in exactly how creepy Ed Norton looks next to Jessica Biel.
Winner: Clearly The Prestige, or as we like to call it, Batman vs. Wolverine (With Magic!)