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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.