Choosing An Unlikely Double-Feature
The idea of taking two films that may in fact be polar opposites and yet still drawing the similarities between them is a really cool idea and one that I've done many of times over my life of watching movies.
I struggled a bit on how I wanted to submit my most unlikely double-feature article as there were so many different ideas that I had whether it was Man of Steel and Passion of the Christ, where I draw out the similarities between the two films and how Superman is essentially a Jesus Christ allegory (well, technically a Moses allegory, but Moses showed us Christ-like behavior). But I didn't want to get into a religious debate on the article because the article is meant to be fun. Plus, Man of Steel was a bit on the nose with that one and so I didn't feel it was all that much "unlikely".
The other idea that I had for an unlikely double-feature that I was going to go for was Avatar and Pocahontas (or The New World). Avatar was James Cameron's baby project that he'd worked on for a decade. The ideas behind the planet Pandora, it's alien inhabitants the Na'vi were all completely original and played out beautifully on the IMAX screen in 3D, but as I began to think about the film, I realized that it was all essentially just a story of Pocahontas in a sci-fi setting.
You had Jake Sully, an invader from another world who ends up becoming apart of this new world and then you had Neytiri, the female native that becomes the sole motivation for all of Jake's actions. You see how that's very similar to Pocahontas and John Smith. It was a perfect no-brainer if you really think about it. But it had been so long since I had seen either of those films, so I didn't know if that was the best idea for me as I could have missed many plot points, which I didn't want to do.
So after much deliberation, I've come to my decision. The two movies that I'd pair up for a seemingly unlikely double-feature is 2005's Four Brothers and 2014's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
On the surface, you might think that these two movies are a huge contrast to each other and tonally you'd be right (actually, in a lot of ways you'd be right) but there are similarities to be drawn out between these two films beyond the obvious fact that both films are about four brothers who are having to stick together for the greater good.
First off, let's start drawing the similarities between these two films.
1. The Origin
The story of Four Brothers (which is an adaptation of the old western, The Sons of Katie Elder) begins with a tragedy of this woman, Evelyn Mercer, the foster parent to the four brothers we meet in the film. She is mercilessly shot down in a store robbery. These terrible incident brings the four brothers together in a big way.
It's soon found out though, that the gunning down of Evelyn Mercer wasn't a simple case of "wrong place, wrong time". Evelyn Mercer was greenlit to have hit put on her by the film's antagonist Victor Sweet (Chiwetel Ejiofor) which motivates the brothers to act and take action.
We see a similar theme in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles where we have four brothers who are raised by a single, non-biological parent, Splinter. In the film we see the home of the Turtles attacked and the plot really begins to move forward whenever we see Splinter becomes seriously injured during the attack.
This leads the four turtle brothers to unite for a common cause of stopping the villain, Shredder, from getting away with his wicked schemes.
Overall, the story of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is nowhere near as tragic as Four Brothers, but you can still see the vague similarity there.
2. The Characters
Mark Whalberg stars as Bobby Mercer in the movie, a man who was raised with three other boys who are misfits who are all foster children to Evelyn Mercer. Bobby himself is the son who feels the weight of the responsibility to take care of his brothers after Evelyn dies.
We also see in the film that Evelyn puts a lot of expectation on Bobby as she knows that he sort of takes lead when it comes to his brothers. Similarly, we see the same happen with Splinter putting much stock in the expectations of Leonardo who also leads his team of brothers.
Tyrese Gibson stars as Angel Mercer who is a bit of a hot-head (really all of the brother in Four Brothers are except for Jeremiah). But Angel has a sort of solo act that he likes to follow, similar to how Raphael likes to do his own thing often.
Another similarity that we see between the two characters is that they both love their brothers dearly and honestly probably have the most heart out of their respective brothers. But they're not always the greatest at showing their feelings and often times the characters can be hard-headed which can lead to some major head-butting between themselves and their leader-esque brother (Bobby/Leo) as well as his other brothers.
Andre Benjamin stars as Jeremiah Mercer who seems to always be the level-headed brother out of the four. Out of the four brothers, he's the least prone to violence. In fact, I don't recall him ever taking part of the action in the film, but he definitely is on the side of his brothers.
We see some of those characteristics in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Donatello who seems more prone to enjoy the lack of violence while focusing on things that he deems more important. The difference is that we see Donatello dive right into the thick of things with his brothers every step of the way, no matter how scary things may be.
Last up, we have Garrett Hedlund starring as Jack Mercer. Jack is the runt to the group, he's the one that the other brothers don't put much faith in considering his abilities, but the boy has a heart for fighting alongside of his brothers and avenging the death of his foster mother. His story is one that ends in tragedy, but his presence is felt throughout the film and we know just how much he means to his three brothers.
Mikey, like Jack, is the runt of his group. He's the roudy, head-strong brother that is the most prone to find himself in over his head. But no matter how seriously his brothers take him or don't take him, he's faithful to the end and a great brother, just like Jack was.
The theme of "FOUR" seems to be running rampant as both movies feature FOUR brothers (one of them even has that in the title) but also the fact that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out on August 8 and Four Brothers came out August 12 which is a FOUR day difference (give or take 11 years).
See? No? Okay, moving...
There's a running theme here for the two films and that is no matter how hard life gets, no matter what life throws our way, we should never discount our family. Our brothers are there for us and will fight for us till the end and likewise we should be willing to do the same for them. If you don't have brothers, the theme of family is still prevalent whether it's a sister, father, mother, guardian, or cousin.
Don't take your family for granted, we never know how long we have any of them and we all only live once, let's make the most of it for our families.