50 Great Movies Accused Of Being Rip-Offs

Outland (1981)

The Accusation: Sean Connery's space sheriff waits in real-time for the arrival of a shuttle full of assassins. Any critics who didn't note the parallels to High Noon were fired. Probably.

The Spark Of Originality: To be fair, Connery only turns into Gary Cooper during the film's final act. Until then, the plot is a cop thriller about a drugs ring.

Body Heat (1981)

The Accusation: Already wised up to a noir revival by 1981's earlier remake of The Postman Always Rings Twice , critics were quick to chorus that the details of Lawrence Kasdan's thriller - in which a lawyer helps his lover to kill the latter's husband - were modelled on Double Indemnity .

The Spark Of Originality: The final act curveball - Matty Walker (Kathleen Turner) has been playing Ned Racine (William Hurt) all along.

Avatar (2009)

The Accusation: Where to start? For all the high-tech sheen of James Cameron's epic, his influences were old-school, with various commentators noting parallels to Dances With Wolves , Pocahontas and - perhaps most strikingly - Ferngully: The Last Rainforest .

The Spark Of Originality: Avatar is very much a triumph of style over substance, with its 3D motion-capture proving to be a genuine game-changer that saw Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson taking notes on a new way of doing things.

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

The Accusation: The giveaway is the pseudonym John Carpenter used for his credit as editor, John T. Chance - the name of John Wayne's character in Rio Bravo , the Western which provided Carpenter with his inspiration.

The Spark Of Originality: Updating Western tropes to the urban hellholes of 1970s action cinema, to create something that was as topical as it was timeless and mythic.

The Shining (1980)

The Accusation: Most casual moviegoers were aware that Jack Nicholson's cry of "Here's Johnny!" when he axes his way into his family's bedroom was cribbed off The Johnny Carson Show , but only the most cine-literate clocked that the sequence was lifted shot-for-shot from Victor Sjöström's silent classic The Phantom Carriage .

The Spark Of Originality: Nicholson's leery improv turned a stock slasher movie trope into one of horror's most pop-art moments.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)

The Accusation: The characters were allegedly derived from 1990 computer game The Secret of Monkey Island , although what goes around comes around: the game's creators were themselves influenced by the Disney theme park that Pirates is officially adapted from.

The Spark Of Originality: Johnny Depp's portrayal of Captain Jack Sparrow as a washed-up rock-star of a pirate, more staggering than swaggering.

The Hunger Games (2012)

The Accusation: The cry of a thousand bloggers earlier this year - it's just Battle Royale ! The novel's author, Suzanne Collins, denies ever having seen or read the Japanese story about teenagers forced to fight to the death.

The Spark Of Originality: Contrary to popular opinion, Battle Royale wasn't a reality TV show satire (the events aren't televised)... and not even similar stories like The Running Man came up with the fiendish conceit of playing for the camera to attract life-saving sponsorship.

A Bug's Life (1998)

The Accusation: Going where The Magnificent Seven and Battle Beyond The Stars had gone before, Pixar's insect epic borrowed Seven Samurai 's premise of villagers paying outsiders to protect them from bandits.

The Spark Of Originality: This time, the saviours aren't samurai, but a circus troupe hired in a case of mistaken identity.

Airplane! (1980)

The Accusation: That Zucker / Abrahams / Zucker pillaged 1957 disaster movie Zero Hour for their plot and visual style. Frankly, they did.

The Spark Of Originality: Airplane! isn't about the plot, but the dozens of verbal and visual gags overlaid on top.

Inception (2010)

The Accusation: Several bloggers noted surprising parallels between the plot of Christopher Nolan's movie and the Scrooge McDuck comic strip, Dream Of A Lifetime , in which a gang of criminals enter Scrooge's dreams to discover the combination to his vault.

The Spark Of Originality: The complexity of Nolan's rules, with its need for architects, forgers and chemists.