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We’re all a little sick of remakes. So prominent in cinema that they have their own subcategories – reboots (The Amazing Spider-Man), readaptation (True Grit) and shot-for-shot (Psycho), to name a few notable ones – even the most optimistic film fan rolls their eyes at the very mention of one. Everyone knows them and everyone bemoans them, as if it’s something new in cinema.

Personally, I have no problem with a remake if the motivation is creative. While the likes of the Michael Bay produced horrors are obviously deplorable there can be some cracking ones. The Departed is the most commonly cited one, but the likes of Ocean’s Eleven and The Thing are hard to fault. Even I Am Legend and The Wars Of The Worlds did something interesting.

But what’s more interesting (and often tolerable) than these prominent remakes are the films that take the plot of an existing movie and repurpose it. While it can sometimes be obvious (and more than a little derivative), sometimes great films are actually just ripping off already existing plots for their own needs.

Here are eleven such films. Some are good in their own right, using the story to go in a new direction, but some sadly exciting concepts by producing a remake that no one really realised was one. Needless to say, there will be a fair few plot spoilers lurking here.

 

11. Rango = Chinatown

China

Coming between the third Pirates Of The Caribbean and The Lone Ranger, Rango stands out on Gore Verbinski’s resume because it’s actually, well, good. Winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature (formerly the Pixar Award For Fresh Ideas), the film’s testament to the fact that animation is much more of a collaborative, equal medium than director obsessed live action.

Rango is a film lovers compendium, with references to Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas, the Man With No Name popping up as the spirit of the west and a hilarious sequence gloriously dubbing to Rise Of The Valkyries. But the film Rango owes the most to, taking the entire basic plot, is Chinatown.

The film that bridges the gap between traditional film noir and neo noir, Chinatown is a masterfully directed picture that pulls you in so far that when it’s iconic final line is said you hardly blink. The plot focuses on a scheme involving keeping water from the drought ridden LA. Some of the darker elements are different, but there’s no doubting this is the same case with Rango

This similarity was raised when the film was released, but nobody cared – Rango was just too funny.

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This article was first posted on July 20, 2013