How many times have we heard the argument that a movie is awful because it’s unoriginal? Originality would seem like a very relative subject, but that’s not to say Hollywood’s brimming with great ideas. In fact, studios nowadays are opting to rehash successful, but tired, movie plots in the hope of making lightening strike twice. But just because a story has been done before doesn’t mean it can’t be used again to some great effect or improve upon the established formula. Regardless, people still complain about familiar stories making for bad movies. Check out COED’s list of 8 movies that have gotten a bad rap for their lack of originality!
1) Avatar “Ripped Off” Dances With Wolves
We’ve all heard the jokes: Smurfs in space, Dances with Wolves in space, etc. The main reason people call it a ripoff of Dances with Wolves is due to the familiarity with the whole espionage-agent-turned-defender-of-the-oppressed plot, which makes people condemn the movie for being unoriginal. The problem is that this is not the first movie to use this plot. Not once did I hear anybody complaining about The Last Samurai or The Mission.
Usually when a movie becomes as unbelievably as popular as Avatar, people will find anything and everything to complain about: the plot, the 2 1/2 hour run-time, the aliens that resemble cats and James Cameron in general. If anything, people should be happy that the biggest box office success of all-time is not a movie about a boat sinking. It’s a movie about war, space, aliens and robots. Does that not sound the least bit cool?
2) The Magnificent Seven “Ripped Off” The Seven Samurai
These two movies share a lot more in common than just the numerical similarities. Both movies are about seven badass warriors who are brought together to defend the weak. While I admit the stories are very similar aside from the cultural differences, the two movies are awesome in their own right. They share similar traits and one could easily accuse of The Magnificent Seven of stealing from Kurosawa’s classic.
But the difference between an homage and a ripoff is a very fine line, so what is the big deal anyway? Both of them are awesome movies that share a great action movie structure. We have a classic western about cowboys doing badass feats while the East has a cultural classic that is considered one of the best films from Japan. Everybody’s a winner, except, of course, the complainers. Let’s just consider ourselves lucky they didn’t have internet forums in the 60s.
3) The Lion King “Ripped Off” Kimba The White Lion
Although the more popular argument has been accusing The Lion King of ripping off Hamlet, the Disney blockbuster bares an uncanny resemblance to the anime classic, Kimba the White Lion. Aside from the same story elements of a young cub’s rise to power, there are certain artistic similarities that are almost eerie. Shots such as Mufasa’s stance on Pride Rock mirrors Panja’s stance. Some early concept art for the movie revealed that Simba was originally going to be white like Kimba. Even Mathew Broderick was under the impression that he was going to be playing Kimba when he went in for the role of Simba.
Let’s not forget to mention the names Simba and Kimba don’t seem too different. It’s hard to say that this whole controversy is one big misunderstanding, but when The Simpsons will crack a Lion King/Kimba joke, it’s hard not to notice it. I’d like to say it’s a big tribute to the classic, but, come on, replacing Kimba with Simba? That’s just lazy thievery.
4) The Condemned “Ripped Off” Battle Royale
From The Running Man to Gamer, the genre of prisoners-fighting-for-freedom-in-a-competition has been a common plot. But The Condemned in particular shares many elements with the Japanese exploitation movie, Battle Royale. Aside from The Condemned being about prisoners and Battle Royale about students, both involve captives on an island, bombs strapped to their bodies and forced to fight to the death until one leaves.
The biggest difference I could find between the two was in the body count. The Condemned involves 10 captives while Battle Royale involves about 42. Not to mention The Condemned is more about big guns and explosions while Battle Royale is more about stylized action scenes. It seems only natural that such a scenario would repeat itself at least once.
5) Metropolis (2001) “Ripped Off” Metropolis (1927)
There’s bound to be some overlap in movie titles with the passing of time. Unfortunately, the 2001 animated version of Metropolis shares more in common with the silent German classic than just the name. Both stories involve a futuristic society with a rigid caste system and a robot girl at the center of the conflict. However, the animated version plays the female lead more as a secret weapon than an instigator of revolution. Though they have much in common, the 2001 version is not actually based on the original movie, but a comic book. So I guess if anyone is to blame it would be the original author of the comic book, Osamu Tezuka. Except he died long before this movie was released.
Be thankful that a remake of such a classic movie was done in the form of a lavish cartoon rather than a Michael Bay explosion fest with generic dialogue. I don’t want to see a version where the city comes crumbling down in front of Will Smith as he utters “This sh*t just got real.”
6) Critters “Ripped Off” Gremlins
Despite constant refusal from director Stephen Herek, it’s hard not to believe that Critters wasn’t made to cash in on Gremlins. He claims that Critters was written before Gremlins and actually had to go through several rewrites before going into production to avoid similarities. So it’s possible this could be the other way around. Still, the similarities are quite apparent. Both are horror comedies that involve little monsters terrorizing a town.
However, the Critters are different from the Gremlins in that these terrors have their creature-babble translated via subtitles (and, yes, they cuss). Not to mention Critters went on to three mediocre sequels while Gremlins only had one campy installment. But if you still insist on damning Critters, have you seen Munchies?
7) Shark Tale “Ripped Off” Finding Nemo
It seems awfully suspicious that Dreamwork’s Shark Tale debuted one year after Finding Nemo. Fortunately for Dreamworks, Shark Tale was too busy being panned for Italian stereotypes and promoting homosexual awareness to be called a hack. That and the abundance of fake product placement. Both movies involve the whole sharks eating fish dynamic, but the biggest difference is that Finding Nemo was easier to understand than a plot about throwing a fight to become popular.
8) Mac & Me “Ripped Off” E.T.
Did you think the alien in E.T. was cute? What if he was a full-grown adult with a family? Mac & Me displays just how bizarre and scary a family of aliens can be with faces that look like blow-up dolls. Not to mention that their nudity is strangely uncomfortable despite the lack of genitalia. What could be worse? How about an unprovoked dance off at McDonald’s that came off as sleazy product placement?
At any rate, by the end of this movie you’ll have much more respect for the fact that E.T.’s family was seen only in silhouette, and that E.T. left with them and never came back. The alien family in Mac & Me end up staying on Earth, complete with them becoming a normal American family. But you just know a redneck is going to blow them away with a shotgun the first chance he gets.
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