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Weekend Roundtable: Worst Movie Endings

SPOILER ALERT! This week’s Roundtable is all about movies ruined by their lousy endings. It stands to reason, therefore, that we’re about to give away those endings. Scan the list of bolded titles and consider yourself warned. Frankly, we wish that we’d been warned in advance before wasting our time watching some of these.

This topic was inspired by a recent YouTube video making the rounds on the internet that celebrates great movie endings.

Aww, isn’t that uplifting? Don’t you feel inspired by the power and potential of cinema after watching that?

Because we’re a bunch of grumps, we figured that we’d take the opposite approach and complain about movies with the shittiest endings we’ve suffered through. That’s how we roll around here.

Shannon Nutt

There are so many options for this, it was hard to choose just one. Do I pick a bad ending to a good movie? An awful ending to a bad movie? Or just an ending that really ticked me off? I chose to go with the latter. 2002′s ‘Signs‘ was on its way to becoming one of M. Night Shyamalan’s best movies. (Granted, this was back in the day when he was still making good movies.) The film is filled with tension and fear over an impending alien invasion of Earth. So, what happens during the climax when the aliens finally show up? We learn that they can be killed with water. That’s right, spray them down with a hose, throw a glassful at them, or just spit in their direction and they’re toast. Suddenly, this alien force that we’ve been dreading all movie-long turns out to be the dumbest lot in the entire universe. Who plans to invade a world that’s two-thirds water and where it rains all the time without some protective gear? At least bring a raincoat or something! The ending is an insult to the audience and ruins an otherwise entertaining movie.

Mike Attebery

Remember the twist in ‘The Usual Suspects’? If you’re a fan of that movie, then the moment that Keyser Soze is revealed, everything falls into place and you think, “Yes, that’s perfect.” It just feels like the proper, final piece of the puzzle.

Then there’s the ending to ‘Now You See Me‘. Without giving too much away, when you find out who was behind all the plot shenanigans, your most likely response will be “Yeah, right!” or “Whaaaaat?” or just “Bullshit!” What a crappy ending. It’s like someone couldn’t find the last piece of a crappy 500 piece cardboard cutout puzzle, so they took a piece from another puzzle entirely, grabbed the kitchen shears, and did a half-assed job cutting off the extra corners and nubs before they jammed it into place. Its mere presence makes everything around it look even worse.

Aaron Peck

The choreographed dance ending of ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘ is really terrible. Yes, I know that it happens while the credits roll and technically isn’t part of the story as far as the characters are concerned, but that doesn’t really matter, because it only serves to undermine whatever emotion and conviction Danny Boyle created with his Oscar-winning film.

I feel the same way about movies that provide outtakes while the credits roll. All these endings do is take viewers out of the escape. It’s like a giant slap on the face from the filmmaker, saying, “Oh, you became totally invested in this story and its characters? Sorry, it was all completely made up.” Why do so many filmmakers want to call attention to their movie’s phoniness? I want to escape in the story, not be reminded that I’m watching something and not experiencing it.

Also, I had to add this in here too: Animated movies that can’t seem to end their stories so they stop on an obligatory song-and-dance number are just awful.

M. Enois Duarte

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Wind – Part 2‘ comes with one of the worst twist endings I think I have ever seen in any motion picture. It’s a horrible, blatant and apparently intentional use of the red herring. As I wrote in my review, it’s “the dumbest of all clichéd twists, the sort thought of as clever by only the worst and most amateurish writer.” If you actually plan to see this mess at some point, I suggest you read no further, as I’m about to ruin it for you.

The plot, or whatever the filmmakers think is reason enough for this making this piece of garbage, uses the existence of Edward and Bella’s miracle baby as an excuse to build up a war between vampire clans. For some stupid reason, the head vampires led by Michael Sheen think the baby was made into a bloodsucker, not born. Of course, the mess could be easily cleared up if the characters would just talk to one another, but any attempt at logic or intelligence is impossible in the ‘Twilight’ universe. When we finally arrive at that the vampire-on-vampire, vampire-on-werewolf climactic battle, wouldn’t you know it, the movie suddenly turns entertaining for a while. But after nearly fifteen minutes of awesome fighting and bloodshed, the whole thing turns out to be only a prophetic vision of what would happen if the characters continued down that road.

It’s the biggest WTF slap on the face of audiences in all movie history!

Gordon Miller

The worst ending I have seen this year is ‘Star Trek into Darkness‘. Of course, it didn’t help that the beginning and middle of the movie were terrible as well. Endings are always the hardest part of a story, so it’s not a surprise that these writers failed us, especially considering their track records.

Repurposing the ‘Wrath of Khan’ death scene was a mistake. When Spock died the same way in that earlier movie, it was meaningful to Kirk because of the length and depth of their relationship. However, the ‘Into Darkness’ writers not only showed that death could be overcome, they also showed McCoy conducting experiments with Khan’s blood, voiding any emotion from Kirk’s death. I can’t imagine that anyone thought Kirk would really remain dead past the credits.

The movie’s final action sequence finds Spock chasing Khan on foot and in the air through San Francisco so that Khan’s blood can save Kirk’s life. Uhura has to remind Spock to bring Khan in alive, though it’s hard to believe that he would kill Khan or that Khan’s blood wouldn’t work if it was taken shortly after his death. It’s even harder to believe that no one thought to check whether the blood of the other 72 members of Khan’s frozen crew had similar life-restoring properties.

Finally, a title card at the end states, “[Into Darkness] is dedicated to our post-9/11 veterans with gratitude for their inspired service abroad and continued leadership at home.” It seems rather bizarre to honor veterans with a movie where the plot involves an attempt to start a war based on lies, and which brings to mind conspiracy theorists who think that 9/11 (imagery of which was evoked in the film) was an inside job to get this nation into war, as at least one of the screenwriters has publicly admitted.

Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)

Okay, okay, I hear you. Superman didn’t reverse time by spinning the planet backwards like I always thought growing up. Its reversed rotation reflects the fact that the Man of Steel is orbiting the globe so quickly that he’s hurtling into the past. This is still one of the absolute worst ways to end a movie ever. If the guy can turn the clock back with no real consequences whatsoever, it stomps all over anything resembling drama or conflict. If anything ever goes south, Supes just has to zip around and undo it. Any catastrophes that plague our planet are just things Superman deems too insignificant to reverse. Sure, Jor-El says it’s forbidden for his son to interfere with human history, but since Superman’s involvement is shaping history anyway, is readjusting events minutes at a time any different? Ugh! I get angry just thinking about it.

Chris Boylan (Big Picture Big Sound)

One Word: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”

Even if that wasn’t the final scene in ‘Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith‘, the bullshit tied-together crap that came afterwards was as forgettable as the rest of the prequel trilogy. That ‘Frankenstein’ moment was when I knew that all the good will and reckless optimism I had through Episodes I and II and even into III were completely for naught.

Josh Zyber

Shannon already grabbed my first choice of ‘Signs’. Nothing about that ending makes any damn sense. Why would these aliens, who are allergic to water, ever come to our water-filled planet in the first place? Having done so, why would they run around butt-ass naked through dew-misted cornfields in the early dawn hours? And why would a TV news broadcast in the background of the scene report that the secret to stopping this alien invasion (with water) was discovered in the Middle East – a freakin’ desert, rather than… oh, I don’t know… Seattle or London or someplace where it rains a lot? M. Night Shyamalan is such a dipshit.

That said, my second choice goes to ‘A.I.: Artificial Intelligence‘, Steven Spielberg’s attempt to quickly and haphazardly toss together the remnants of a project that Stanley Kubrick had toiled away at for almost two decades prior to his death. I knew that the movie was pretty much doomed from the beginning, when William Hurt’s daffy scientist announces that he wants to build a robot that can looooooooooove, because looooooooooove is the most important thing in, like, forever. It was pretty clear from that moment that Steven Spielberg understood absolutely nothing about Stanley Kubrick, and must have tossed all of the master’s notes in a trash can and lit them on fire as soon as he signed on to direct. Spielberg’s touchy-feely sentimentality clashes badly with Kubrick’s cold intellectualism, and Spielberg ultimately wins the tug-of-war between the two.

But we’re not here to talk about beginnings. We’re here to talk about endings, and ‘A.I.’ has a doozy of a stinker. Truth be told, despite its many problems, ‘A.I.’ is an interesting film with some interesting ideas, and tries to explore some fascinating questions about human existence. After a long journey, the story almost wraps up with a beautifully poetic conclusion involving the death of its main character, the young robot child named David (Haley Joel Osment). Sadly, that’s all undermined when the whole thing shoots off into a howlingly absurd epilogue. Apologists will try to pretend that the flash-forward to the distant future, in which a race of super-advanced robots resurrect David in order to let him have a few more moments with his mommy before he dies again, was part of Kubrick’s original concept, but there’s simply no way that Kubrick wrote any of the reams of bullshit technobabble exposition about “space-time pathways” and “memory traces in resonance with a recreated body.” I imagine that Kubrick envisioned something more like the ending to his ’2001: A Space Odyssey’, something ambiguous and enigmatic left for the audience to decipher on its own. Instead, we get pure Spielbergian pap, a desperate attempt to explain away any hint of ambiguity, and it’s insufferably awful.

What are your picks for movies with truly crappy endings? Tell us in the Comments.

88 comments

  1. Fight Club, it was too soon after The Sixth Sense and I feel that ever since that movie was made, there has to be an obligatory twist ending. That sucks because it makes me predict the movie more because I’m always looking for a twist. DAMN you Shymalan!!! I really liked Tyler Durden’s character and still love the first half of Fight Club. High Tension is another awesome movie ruined by a shitty twist. I’m willing to forgive it just because I love the movie so much. It’s a damn near perfect horror movie until those last few minutes.

      • What I remember of the ending of Fight Club was everyone watching the skyscrapers topple. Someone asked me my opinion of he movie shortly after seeing it and my comment was, ” oh boy, that was Anarchy in the USA”, punning on the Sex Pistols. As a New Yorker a few years later I got to watch the real life version when the towers went down.

  2. Rick Muncie

    I know this is unpopular, but I HATE the ending of Cabin in the Woods. Yes I get it, and don’t even mind the final image. I liked the horror comedy too.

    It’s when you see Sigourney Weaver that I cringed. Just seeing her made me cringe, and then what she said/did made it even worse.

    Again, I know I’m in the minority but I hate when you watch a movie, are into it, you “get it,” and then it all comes crashing down with a horrible cameo of a horrible character at the end.

  3. Rick Muncie

    Just to be clear, it’s not Weaver herself that made me cringe, but the sickening feeling that the movie is going to become VERY lame. And then she started talking and with what she said, yep, lame.

  4. Daniel Rowen

    remember The Thirteenth Floor? 1999 SciFi that could have had a really good Twilight Zone-type ending, but instead had the worst, tacked-on, happy ending ever, completely ruining the entire movie for me.

  5. Mark Rundy

    Recently, how about “Disconnect?” It’s a great movie with three inter-connecting storylines…until the last 5 minutes. It does NOT know how to end. Perhaps the best ending was the one with the webcam guy. But for the kid who gets bullied? TERRIBLE TERRIBLE way to end it. The other story with the victim of identity theft was just ho-hum. Bottom line: Disconnect is great, but don’t want the last 5 minutes of the movie.

  6. Jon

    Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.
    You could make a sandwich and go for a walk around your neighborhood and the “ending” of that movie wouldn’t be halfway done. Completely overstays its welcome.

    • RollTide1017

      I completely disagree. All 3 LOTR movies are basically one long movie so, after spending almost 12 hours with these characters I think then ending was very much earned and very satisfying.

      I went to one of those theaters that showed FOTR and TTT EE before premiering ROTK at midnight and, after seeing all 3 at one time, the ending didn’t feel long at all.

      • Elizabeth

        How about the fact that after all that time and supposedly being a huge Tolkien fan, Peter Jackson couldn’t even give us the real ending of the the story (the Scouring of the Shire)? It kind of removes a huge theme of Tolkien’s work, that of the dangers of industrialization. (I will admit I hated most of Jackson’s LOTR movies, The Hobbit Pt.1 included.)

  7. Pedram

    The original ending to I Am Legend was very disappointing to me. No real resolution for the main character, just blow everything up. Sure, there was some element of sacrifice for others, but it was annoying because Neville killed himself to save the woman who led the monsters to his house in the first place.

    Anyway, I didn’t realize just how disappointing it was until I saw the alternate ending. In that version he realises just how wrong he was about them losing all trace of humanity, and it opened his eyes. He took the risk of going out amongst them to redeem himself and return the female to them. He saw that they weren’t just dumb beasts, and that they had some emotion and a sense of hierarchy. And lastly, he didn’t have to essentially be a suicide bomber and make us watch a character we spent the whole movie becoming attached to, die for stupid reasons.

  8. Wayne

    Whenever asked this question, for some reason the movie “Bone Collector” comes to mind. You never even really see the serial killer (except one short scene at the very beginning that has nothing to do with the reason he is the killer) or know anything about him until the end .. and then it is this wimpy whiney nerd .. and the story he gives about why (from my memory) is not even alluded to during the film .. he and the reasoning just seem to come out of the blue leaving the movie very disjointed and lacking at the end.

  9. Timcharger

    How about the Dark Knight? Yes, yes, it’s a favorite among many here and everywhere.

    Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face, a bad guy, and that will legally set free all the criminals he put away when he was a good guy?!

    Don’t you know, when a cop gets a speeding ticket in the future, it voids all the speeding tickets he’s ever written in the past! True. You read it on the internet.

    And to top it off, let’s blame the Batman for Two-Face’s crimes, yes! That’s it! Good idea. It’s not like the movie had a villain with a clown face all over the news committing acts of terrorism throughout the city for months. Yeah, who in the world would think of blaming the Joker for commiting crimes? You can’t expect the writers to be Einsteins for thinking of this alternative.

  10. Brent

    Skyline. Dumbest ending for a potentially “good” sci-fi movie. It’s like the writers picked it out of a hat.

    I don’t agree with Fight Club being in the mix. The ending was not obligatory at all. I mean, it’s not like they tacked it on for the “wow” factor. It was true to the plot and book on which it was based.

  11. Kevin

    Tim Burton’s “Planet of the Apes”. Yes, the rest of the movie isn’t particularly good either, but what the frak was THAT ending with ape-Lincoln memorial and ape cops?

    • It is almost exactly the ending of the book. He returns to earth starts hitch hiking is picked up by passing trucker who when he opens the cab doori is an ape.

      • EM

        Not quite but close. The protagonist-narrator lands his shuttlecraft at an airport, and a wheeled vehicle comes from one of the buildings to investigate. When its passenger, a uniformed officer, emerges from the vehicle, the narrator realizes that this officer is a gorilla.

        Actually, that’s not quite the ending either. The novel is wrapped in a framing tale in which a couple enjoying a spacefaring vacation have found a bottle containing a manuscript of the narrator’s adventures. The end of the framing tale reveals that the couple, who doubt the manuscript’s veracity, are apes.

        • Thanks. I read the book around the time of the original films release, quite a few years ago now. I knew there was a vehicle and then he discovered the driver was ape. Totally blanked on the wrap around.

          • EM

            Such is memory. It’d been a while since I last read the novel too (not nearly so long, though; I hadn’t even been born when the first film was released!), and I needed to pull it from one of my bookshelves to fact-check my correction. In particular, I had falsely “remembered” the airport gorilla as a baggage handler. Maybe there was too much contamination from American Tourister commercials…

  12. Daniel

    No Country for Old Men. Without question, one of the most rage inducing endings I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

    • Timcharger

      Agree. An Oscar winner that wasted my time and dared me to waste more time by pretending to be more. No, I’m not rewatching. People get paid money to analyze dreams, and Coens didn’t send me a check. Yes, the ride was interesting, but I didn’t drive through Tuscany to go to a Jackson Pollack museum. Those specks of splashed paint are worth millions and earned Oscars. F*ck you; I aint giving you another dime.

  13. Jeddick Reinhold

    3:10 to Yuma (2007). I thought it was a truly great western … right up until the end when Ben Wade does something entirely not supported by his actions during the movie. Look for the Most Helpful 1 star review by Benjamin Kidman on Amazon. I am not alone.

      • timcharger

        Aaron, does it bother you when you see Brad Pitt on Entertainment Tonight or on Letterman, and he isn’t running scared from zombies? Cuz that also ruins the escapist make-believe world of movies.

        Okay, that was below the belt. Refs throw a flag for a 15 yard penalty. Hey you come across the middle with opinions like that, you sometimes get hit.

        • motorheadache

          I agree with Aaron IF the movie isn’t just a goofy comedy. That kind of stuff I don’t mind seeing bloopers or outtakes or something funny going on that breaks the fourth wall.

          But otherwise, I don’t like to be pulled out of the film immediately when the credits role. One example of this was that last X-Files movie. Not a great movie, but I hate the Unrated version of the movie, simply because you have to watch behind-the-scenes photographs of the film right when the credits start up. I only watch the theatrical cut because of this (nothing significant is added in the unrated version anyway).

  14. John W

    Oh “Signs”, you had such promise until that ‘destiny’ bs ending…and you know someone in the alien recon force received a MASSIVE chewing out on their trip back…”You found us a planet that’s SEVENTY-FIVE percent covered in the stuff that kills us? Morons! I’ve got morons on my team!”

    Gotta go with “Abrams Trek Into Darkness” with this one. Take ‘Wrath of Khan’, and remove all context and suspense…and PRESTO! You have a movie that had me thinking “Maybe I was too hard on the 2009 entry…”

  15. I agree on ending to Now You See Me and Star Trek Into Darkness being really infuriatingly lame. I would add the fake out ending to Savages also being very bad, but that whole movie was pretty bad.

    Have to disagree about AI.. That is one tricksy movie. It is a post morton for us as a species because of our love of technology. I made the sme mistake, when coming out off the theater the first time and was trying to explain it to my wife and I’m going, “can a robot love ….” the second time seeing the kind of depraved culture and NYC flooded up to the 10th floor through out the city, I realized it was a cautionary tale about us embracing the Artificial instead of the Natural and destroying ourselves. And the end scene is really goodnight Homo Sapieans as David’s memory and mother’s DNA allows the last fleeting glimpse of a real human.

    This is also the real meaning of The Happening, albeit much more poorly executed. We as a species are committing suicide by not respecting and taking care of our natural planet which sustains us. It wasn’t that the trees were attacking us, we are commiting suicide by destroying our air and water and Eco systems. Search your feelings Luke and you know it is true.

  16. Makes me laugh when people cry about the “magic blood”.

    In the original Wrath of Khan Spock transfers his mind into McCoy and when his body is magically resurrected by the Genesis Planet his mind was transferred back……..and people are whining about magic blood???

    • Timcharger

      Yes. Ask any one you encounter that complains about “magic blood”, why they think Spock’s “magic fingers” resurrection is any better?

      • Point taken, but the whole “remember” thing that Spock does to McCoy harkens back to an TOS episode where Spock did the same thing to Kirk, but said “forget” – so at least they were mining something established in ST canon.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Spock’s soul-transfer and resurrection were ret-conned in Star Trek III, not Wrath of Khan. In Wrath of Khan, all Spock is actually seen doing is a Vulcan mind-meld, which is a pretty common thing in Star Trek and had never previously involved transferring a soul. If you want to complain about this (and it’s a valid complaint), it’s Star Trek III you should go after, not Wrath of Khan. Most Trek fans will agree with you that STIII is a very flawed and problematic movie based entirely around a huge cop-out conceit. I don’t see how this excuses Into Darkness from doing the same thing. The magic resurrection deus ex machina was lame the first time, and it’s still lame the second time as well.

    • That actually doesn’t happen in Wrath of Khan as Josh pointed out, so your comparison is flawed.

      The problem with the “magic blood,” setting aside why no scientist involved in genetically enhancing Khan used his blood before now, is why does Khan have to be alive for it to work (aside from needing the chase scene to occur) and why does no one check to see if the blood of the 72 people already on board works the same way (aside from needing the chase scene to occur).

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        It must also be pointed out that, now that McCoy has used and can replicate Khan’s magic blood, the concept of death is officially meaningless in the new Star Trek universe. No one will ever die and every character will live forever.

        Right?

        I mean, J.J. Abrams wouldn’t implement a game-changing plot point like this and then completely ignore any ramifications it might have, would he? :)

        • Timcharger

          It must be pointed out that as the result of ST3, every Vulcan with the knowledge of the secret facial handshake is essential immortal now. The concept of death is official meaningless for ST3 onwards.

          Klingon children instead of practicing battle with their cool Klingon swords, now practice the Vulcan salute. Training their fingers to attain magic finger powers. The Klingon ideal is no longer a good death in battle, but a good soul transfer before many deaths in many lifetimes.

          Oh yeah, that’s the one thing Abrams won’t have old Spock tell new Spock in their conversations, no “magic finger” secrets are shared.

          See, I can do exactly what you did, and “magic blood” isn’t any worse than “magic fingers”. ;)

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            Tim, we’ve already been through this. Just because an earlier movie did something that everyone acknowledges is lame doesn’t give the new one excuse to repeat that mistake.

            Also, you are factually wrong. Spock was only able to be resurrected as a combination of the soul-transfer and the Genesis device reanimating his body. Not every Vulcan can do this. With the Genesis planet destroyed, it cannot be repeated. However, in NuTrek, now that Khan’s blood has been synthesized, everyone should live forever.

          • Timcharger

            Josh, likewise, you’re assuming “magic blood” can reanimate anything, regrow severed heads, bodies burned to ashes, with your “no one will ever die” comment.

            You’re a rabble-rouser with your high-faluten comments. So I’m rabble-falutening back.

            You know Kirk will not die, we all knew that he’ll have a miraculous recovery. That plot point was always going to be. Would you rather have Kirk die in Abrams2, and have the Search for Kirk in Abrams3?

          • Josh Zyber
            Author

            The movie tells us that the magic blood can cure anything. Khan uses it to save the little girl in the beginning, and McCoy resurrects a dead Tribble at the end.

  17. The heart transplant in Terminator Salvation. WHAT. THE . FUCK!!? Granted the movie was not great to begin with but that dragged it into shark jumping and fridge nuking levels for me. Also Helena Bonham Carter as the face of Skynet not cool.

  18. thulsadoom

    I agree with the Terminator Salvation heart transplant being ridiculous. It wasn’t the best movie, but it wasn’t too bad and good fun in places, until that absurdity.

    My most recent “What was the point of that?!” ending was The Woman In Black. We really enjoyed that till the ending that rendered the entire film completely pointless.

    One of the endings that angers me the most, is Explorers. I absolutely love that film. I think it’s one of the best kids movies ever made. Up until the meet the aliens. As an adult, I saw what they were going for, with the irony etc. But you wouldn’t give that ending to an adult for an adult story, so why do it to kids? As a kid I was so utterly disappointed after all the excitement and mystery and build up. I wanted something with some real depth and meaning.

    Okay, it wasn’t a ‘bad’ ending in the way some of the examples above are, but it was bad because of what the film could have been.

  19. William Sommerwerck

    The overall intelligence of these comments (whether or not I agree) encourages me to contribute.

    Both “Signs” and “My Cousin Vinnie” share the same major fault. They were written backwards, with a predetermined ending forcing that everything that went before. *

    * This is technically true of most stories — but you’re not supposed to be so obvious about it! “Vinnie” is especially bad, because Vinnie’s girlfriend //just happens// to be an auto mechanic (!!!) who thoroughly understands differentials. HOW CONVENIENT!

  20. William Sommerwerck

    One other remark… It’s interesting that most of the objections here are to films with endings that are bad storytelling (that is, poor drama), not simply an “I didn’t like it” reaction.

    Along those lines… “Field of Dreams” is confused throughout, and its ending directly contradicts how the film itself says the story will end.

  21. Timcharger

    Aaron,
    You shouldn’t have a gripe about this:
    “The choreographed dance ending of ‘Slumdog Millionaire‘ is really terrible. Yes, I know that it happens while the credits roll and technically isn’t part of the story as far as the characters are concerned, but that doesn’t really matter.”

    It does matter, that it isn’t really part of film.

    You say:
    “Why do so many filmmakers want to call attention to their movie’s phoniness? I want to escape in the story, not be reminded that I’m watching something and not experiencing it.”

    But the film is over. After seeing THE END, you still want to in “escape” mode? You need to get up and leave the theater, and get back to real life.

    Aaron, you better not go to a play or musical. Or you better be first to leave before the crowd does. Do you know that at the curtain call, sometimes the leading hero and leading villain will walk out together during the crowd applause. And they, the hero and villain, will be nice to each other (often deflecting the crowd praise to each other). That will totally dispel your belief that the hero and villain hated each other in the story.

    (Sorry, just having some fun; but I do think your Slumdog beef is really about the same point.)

  22. Spiderjerusalem

    Josh has got some facts colossally wrong about Spielberg and A.I. Spielberg was given the project by Kubrick and the two developed it together for years while Kubrick made Eyes Wide Shut, along with keeping intact the ending that Kubrick originally had wanted – the one that is in the film. Also, it’s more than fair to point out that Spielberg probably “got” Kubrick far better than you, considering Kubrick pretty much felt that Spielberg was the only one fit to finish the project in the first place.

    But that’s beside the point that misreading the ending to A.I. as a sappy one is probably more due to the viewer not understanding the extremely dark and bleak story that is better and more nuanced than anything Kubrick in all his greatness could have accomplished – a sublte man he as not.

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      It’s funny how the story about Spielberg and Kubrick being besties for life, and Kubrick begging Spielberg to please make this movie for him, only surfaced as part of the PR wave for the movie, well after Kubrick’s death.

      As I said in the post, I can believe that Kubrick may have devised the general concept of the flash-forward, but there’s simply no way that his version would have played out even remotely like the explainy-explainy-explainy schmaltz-fest that Spielberg tacked onto the movie. When I saw this in the theater, the entire audience howled in derisive laughter at the scene. I gave it many years before watching again, and it doesn’t play any better at home. It’s an awful, awful scene.

      When Spielberg delivered the eulogy for Kubrick at the Academy Awards following his death, he described Kubrick’s films as being filled with a “magical sense of hope and wonder,” which is just about the most profound misreading imaginable of everything that Kubrick (an avowed pessimist and misanthropist) ever felt, believed or expressed during his lifetime.

      I’m not even going to touch your comment about the scene being “better and more nuanced than anything Kubrick in all his greatness could have accomplished.” If you really believe that, there’s just no way that you and I will see eye-to-eye about anything, ever. You might as well try to convince me that a pile of dog crap on a broken plate is better than any gourmet meal at a Michelin three-star restaurant.

      • Spiderjerusalem

        Calling Kubrick a misanthrope is just more evidence to you not actually understanding him, or his films, in the least. Even Jack Nicholson and Kubrick’s own daughter will call you out on that (Nicholson has always maintained Kubrick was “a bloke” and great with people, even if he was more introverted than anything. Vivian Kubrick has countless times called people who claim Kubrick a misanthrope as ‘clueless’).

        Even more to the point, the Kubrcik archives detail in length the process for A.I. and specifically state that it moved from Kubrick to Spielberg well into the 90′s.

        Visually, the art design was done under Kubrick’s supervision during the 80s. Spielberg also went to great lengths to replicate Kubrick’s camera movement and pacing. (Where Spielberg strays visually is the lighting, which is very Spielbergian.)

        The entire story along with its character arcs were also completed during Kubrick’s life. Now there is much contention over the ending. The original notes had David mixing drinks instead of making coffee for his mother. Many thought Spielberg changed this (as it alters the ending of the film), but Kubrick himself changed the ending shortly before his death. (The other notable difference is the renaming of the William Hurt character. He was simply “The Visionary” in Kubrick’s notes, but Spielberg named him “Prof. Hobby” as a tribute to Kubrick’s production company (Hobby Films).

        Something else: even the incorporation of Ministry as the band at the Flesh Fair was Kubrick’s idea. (One of the set builders was listening to them during the pre-production of “Eyes Wide Shut” and Kubrick immediately made a note to use them for the movie.)

        But truth be told, Kubrick always wanted Spielberg did direct “A.I.” but Spielberg was hesitant to do so. It wasn’t until Kubrick’s death that Spielberg accepted the offer upon Kubrick’s widow’s request. (Kubrick himself was hesitant about doing the film because of the more sentimental aspects– he felt that Spielberg was better suited for it.)

        And Spielbergs quote? Kubrick was a highly moral filmmaker, who didn’t shy away from sentimentality (the singing at the end of Paths of Glory, the end of Spartacus) or optimism (the cut from a primitive tool to space exploration in 2001). So Spielberg giving a shout out to a man he knew personally and to his own view of this hope that Kubrick implemented into his films (something Kubrick never denied and even on a number of occasions denied claims that he just wanted to do stories about humanity sucking) is completely valid.

        So, yeah, we might have to disagree, but with the difference that our opinions are conflicting because facts don’t get along with prejudices.

  23. Bill

    Most of you have picked really recent films. I can’t agree. Most of today’s movies have at least an attempt at a denouement. Go back to the 30′s, 40′s and 50′s or even the 60′s and 70′s. The gangster gets shot, the end. Lovers are reunited, music swirls, the end. Monster is killed, cut to end title. German raider is sunk, cue the credits on top of the disappearing stern etc. etc. Those old endings were all way too quick and a slap in the face for the audience who has just invested two hours or so in the story and the characters only to leave the theatre wondering “is that all there is”? Today’s movies on the other hand give a much stronger sense of closure. At least that’s how I see it.

  24. motorheadache

    This ending has mixed opinions, but I really hate the added on ending of Frank Durabont’s The Mist. Really good horror movie (love it in black and white!) but the ending is ridiculous. It was so over-the-top mean-spirited that I actually found it funny. It’s the ultimate “d’oh!” moment.

    • Joel

      The ending of The Mist really pissed me off, really absurd, why Darabont didn’t use the ending from the book I have no idea.

      • HengstKSE

        While I agree as far as not liking the ending, it was not until I read the novella that I realized that the Darabont ending was something that had been written about in the story. Obviously he never followed through. Interesting that he would skip the depressing ending for a much different and even more depressing ending.

    • Pedram

      I also agree. I really liked the movie right up until the ending. It’s just a slap in the face really. Far from dramatic payoff or something that makes you wonder what you’d do, it just kept thinking “why did they have to do it like that”?

      I’ve seen negative endings that made me go “whoah, that was crazy” before, but this one was just depressing.

    • Akiva

      Actually, Stephen King really liked Darabont’s ending and at one time said that he wished he had the balls to have ended it that way himself.

    • NJScorpio

      The ending was one of the best parts of the movie. It was highly memorable, felt appropriate, and was certainly not a generic ending.