#1  
Old 04-23-2012, 09:43 AM
Worst Endings!

For me the way a movie ends can make or break it.

For instance, I really enjoyed No Country for Old Men right up until the end.
Spoiler:
Killed Josh Brolin off-screen after you'd been rooting for him the whole time and then had Tommy Lee Jones talking some crap about a dream he had. I suppose I'm missing some hidden sub-text or deeper meaning, but it ruined the movie for me.


Indian Jones and the Crystal Skull, not exactly a masterpiece, but it was enjoyable enough....until the ending
Spoiler:
ALIENS! Seriously?!


Return of the Jedi. Furry teddy-bears save the day.

LOTR: Return of the King - seriously, pick an ending and stick with it.

The Veteran
Spoiler:
totally shouldn't have killed off Toby Kebbell at the end
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  #2  
Old 04-23-2012, 11:29 AM
I use to feel similarly of No Country for Old Men's ending, but I've actually grown to like it.


Bad endings:

The Village
Signs
A Nightmare on Elm Street (the original)
There Will Be Blood (okay, maybe calling bad is a tad harsh, but I had serious problems with this ending in an otherwise fantastic movie)
2001: A Space Odyssey (I defy ANYONE to tell what the fuck is going on in the last 20 minutes!!!)
The Fountain (see 2001: A Space Odyssey)
Push
Secret Window
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  #3  
Old 04-23-2012, 11:44 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemovies View Post
Signs
I quite liked the ending to Signs. The entire film is about Graham's loss of faith and while on the surface it seems a bit ridiculous, I always found the way it plays out to be pretty poignant.

The one that stands out for me is Sunshine. Talk about truly fucking up an otherwise excellent film for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That's the difference between the ending of Sunshine and the ending of something like Signs. The ending of Signs actually makes sense within the context of the narrative and themes. There was no logical reasoning for the ending of Sunshine. It was the equivalent of the film cutting to a continuous shot of Danny Boyle and Alex Garland giving the audience the finger for the last 20 minutes.

Last edited by Bourne101; 04-23-2012 at 11:50 AM..
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  #4  
Old 04-23-2012, 01:11 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bourne101 View Post
The one that stands out for me is Sunshine. Talk about truly fucking up an otherwise excellent film for absolutely no reason whatsoever. That's the difference between the ending of Sunshine and the ending of something like Signs. The ending of Signs actually makes sense within the context of the narrative and themes. There was no logical reasoning for the ending of Sunshine. It was the equivalent of the film cutting to a continuous shot of Danny Boyle and Alex Garland giving the audience the finger for the last 20 minutes.
The ending of Sunshine is a curveball stylistically - shifting genres and tone (which I've argued elsewhere is something Boyle does in nearly every single film he's made) and not fully successful (I wish it didn't remind me, as so many others, of Event Horizon), but at the very least, it is thematically consistent with what comes before it. I'm not sure what you mean by no logical reasoning though or the lack of making sense within the "context of the narrative". Like so much science-fiction, it's an allegorical story and while I haven't analyzed the film in-depth, I see it as a fairly consistent argument for human perseverance, values, and rationale over blind zealotry. In other words, we come closest to the divine when we put our faith in humanistic values, not religious ones.

Last edited by JCPhoenix; 04-23-2012 at 01:13 PM..
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  #5  
Old 04-23-2012, 01:24 PM
I fucking love High Tension but the ending was such a BS move on Aja's part. I always pretend the ending doesn't even exist.
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  #6  
Old 04-23-2012, 04:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by JCPhoenix View Post
The ending of Sunshine is a curveball stylistically - shifting genres and tone (which I've argued elsewhere is something Boyle does in nearly every single film he's made) and not fully successful (I wish it didn't remind me, as so many others, of Event Horizon), but at the very least, it is thematically consistent with what comes before it. I'm not sure what you mean by no logical reasoning though or the lack of making sense within the "context of the narrative". Like so much science-fiction, it's an allegorical story and while I haven't analyzed the film in-depth, I see it as a fairly consistent argument for human perseverance, values, and rationale over blind zealotry. In other words, we come closest to the divine when we put our faith in humanistic values, not religious ones.
Granted, I haven't seen it in a while, but I felt that the third act went against every aspect of the aesthetic of the first two acts. It merely turns into a crappy Jason X-esque slasher flick. It may allegorically make sense, but narratively, it does not. There is nothing that happens in the first two acts that justifies what comes after it. Again though, I do need to see it again, so I may be off base here.

Last edited by Bourne101; 04-23-2012 at 04:10 PM..
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  #7  
Old 04-23-2012, 04:46 PM
My two cents: The Adjustment Bureau. It had an interesting premise, but it settled for a cliche ending.
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  #8  
Old 04-23-2012, 05:26 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by echo_bravo View Post
I fucking love High Tension but the ending was such a BS move on Aja's part. I always pretend the ending doesn't even exist.
Agreed. Completely undermined the intense as fuck ride we just experience by making it another
Spoiler:
ITS A SPLIT PERSONALITY/IT'S ALL IN THE CHARACTERS HEAD
ending. It can be done well, but it totally wasn't in this case.
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  #9  
Old 04-23-2012, 05:52 PM
I don't know, I loved the endings to High Tension & Sunshine.
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  #10  
Old 04-23-2012, 06:28 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bourne101 View Post
Granted, I haven't seen it in a while, but I felt that the third act went against every aspect of the aesthetic of the first two acts. It merely turns into a crappy Jason X-esque slasher flick. It may allegorically make sense, but narratively, it does not. There is nothing that happens in the first two acts that justifies what comes after it. Again though, I do need to see it again, so I may be off base here.
I definitely don't disagree with you about the aesthetic shift - and the first time I watched it, my thoughts ran in the same direction as yours (crappy Jason X-esque slasher flick). The way it's shot doesn't help - but I think if you get past the aesthetic level, you will find the ending is consistent with what came before. Yes, it becomes slasher-y but in service of the ultimate theme of the film, rather than simply just the guy hacking and slashing. The way they shot Pinbacker (as all blurry light you just can't see) is very intentional and imo turns him into a visual embodiment/metaphor for blind faith. To me, he's kind of like what Searle (the guy who always wanted to see the sun at its brightest) could have evolved into eventually. Unfortunately, when everyone first watches it (as was my experience), it just comes off as a bad Event Horizon wannabe which is why I say I don't think the last act works fully the way it was meant to. But Pinbacker makes a lot of points that show just what they're trying to demonstrate, as he rambles on quite a bit about God.

I'm not sure how the film is supposed to justify the events of the last part of the narrative in the earlier part. On a literal story level, it set up what it needed to do in the first two acts (going on board Icarus I, Pinbacker's communique, the sabotage) to get to that last act. To me, it's generally the other way around for a film. The third act I feel needs to to justify the first two acts. The third act is where a movie's point (if there is one) is revealed. To put that onus of justification earlier would mean the third act would always have to be an obvious progression, rather than spin what you saw earlier into something new. I don't see why Sunshine can't turn a little more metaphorical/symbolic in the last act, while keeping one eye on making sure the narrative is still coherent.

Throughout the movie, the characters all discuss and make hard decisions on who has to live or die, etc to make this work. They ponder what a life is worth in relation to the world's, etc and with each obstacle they run into, they plan things out rationally, taking into account differing points of view and democratically coming to decisions based on their own personal human values. I mean, that really IS the movie, watching them come to these hard decisions (one of the reasons I love this movie despite its flaws). It's like a test of their humanism.

Pinbacker is just the ultimate obstacle, the most revealing one thematically - a human who has been corrupted by values that have no justification or rationale (blind faith). Capa's triumph over Pinbacker (and I'll admit, they could have made it a more interesting finale than purely physical but maybe that would have made the point too obvious - and maybe it would have been impossible considering you can't really debate with irrationality and blind faith so what is left but the physical?) is the triumph of human values and rationality over zealotry - which leads him to the moment where he is able to stand in front of the sun/the divine/God for a moment (obviously would burn up faster in reality but) and looks at peace.

On a narrative and thematic level, the film works for me (with some reservations). I think the issue with the third act is mostly an aesthetic one. The way it's filmed feels like a standard slasher flick, even though there's far more of a reason for the visual techniques here than in any normal horror flick. But it's that jarring change of tone that makes the third act feel disjointed from the first two acts I think, and not the fundamental narrative itself.

Also for the record - the third act works better on repeat viewings. The last act works on the most basic level - but I didn't feel that the first time around, and I think that's the case for a lot of people because the aesthetic change is so jarring. In that sense, the ending is a bit of a failure. I don't love the final act - it's the only thing stopping this from being a masterpiece imo - but it's not a deal-breaker for me the way some other last acts have been in the past, and it's much more palatable and with a less jarring shift second time around. I do think the point could have been made in a more interesting way than just a literal standoff between "avatars" representing rationality and zealotry, but on a basic level, I think it serves its purpose/makes its point.

Also totally agree with the mention of High Tension on these lists.

Last edited by JCPhoenix; 04-23-2012 at 06:49 PM..
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  #11  
Old 04-23-2012, 07:08 PM
Quote:
For instance, I really enjoyed No Country for Old Men right up until the end.
Spoiler:
Killed Josh Brolin off-screen after you'd been rooting for him the whole time and then had Tommy Lee Jones talking some crap about a dream he had. I suppose I'm missing some hidden sub-text or deeper meaning, but it ruined the movie for me.

2001: A Space Odyssey (I defy ANYONE to tell what the fuck is going on in the last 20 minutes!!!)
The Fountain (see 2001: A Space Odyssey)
Oh no! Ambiguous endings! How dare a filmmaker try to stimulate our brains rather than merely entertain us!

Quote:
There Will Be Blood (okay, maybe calling bad is a tad harsh, but I had serious problems with this ending in an otherwise fantastic movie)
Honestly, the ending MADE that film for me. Take it away and it's a standard-order prestige drama.

Quote:
Indian Jones and the Crystal Skull, not exactly a masterpiece, but it was enjoyable enough....until the ending
Spoiler:
ALIENS! Seriously?!
... because 'God' coming down and laying waste to a small band of Nazis (NOT because they're Nazis, mind you, but because they opened the Ark of the Covenant ) and then vacuuming them up into the sky was sooooo much more plausible.

Quote:
Return of the Jedi. Furry teddy-bears save the day.
Lucas' whole point was for the Empire to be brought down by the most primitive of weaponry... though I do agree it might've been even more effective if he'd made the Ewoks less cute and cuddly-looking.

Quote:
LOTR: Return of the King - seriously, pick an ending and stick with it.
Have you read the book?

Quote:
My two cents: The Adjustment Bureau. It had an interesting premise, but it settled for a cliche ending.
Actually, this is one of the few times in modern filmmaking that I've been OK with the well-worn 'love conquers all' ending.
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  #12  
Old 04-23-2012, 07:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoojib127 View Post
Actually, this is one of the few times in modern filmmaking that I've been OK with the well-worn 'love conquers all' ending.
I thought the ending of the adjustment bureau was too tidy, convenient, and it felt like the writers just tacked it on too quickly to resolve the problems the plot posed for the two main characters. I'm not against a happy ending to a love story, but this ending felt superficial, phony, and flat. It was just plain unsatisfying.
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  #13  
Old 04-23-2012, 07:36 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by hoojib127 View Post
Oh no! Ambiguous endings! How dare a filmmaker try to stimulate our brains rather than merely entertain us!
I have no problem with ambiguity. But 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Fountain do not have an ending that is ambigious. No, those endings are incomprehensible and incoherent. There is no way to tell what is going on. Just a bunch of (admittedly cool) visuals being thrown at the screen.

And yes, I know some people say that the ending makes more sense if you have read the book for 2001, good for those people. If you have to read a book to understand a movie's ending, then it fails as a movie IMO.
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  #14  
Old 04-23-2012, 08:37 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by ilovemovies View Post
I have no problem with ambiguity. But 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Fountain do not have an ending that is ambigious. No, those endings are incomprehensible and incoherent. There is no way to tell what is going on. Just a bunch of (admittedly cool) visuals being thrown at the screen.

And yes, I know some people say that the ending makes more sense if you have read the book for 2001, good for those people. If you have to read a book to understand a movie's ending, then it fails as a movie IMO.
The Fountain was a deeply philosophical meditation on death. The ending is about death and rebirth; it could not be more unambiguous without a film-school style voiceover narrative explanation from a lead character.

But I think more generally speaking, you're asking deeply metaphorical, opaque, stylistic films to suddenly break their raison d'etre and become perspicuous traditional narratives, which is just down right inane.
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  #15  
Old 04-23-2012, 09:28 PM
Good write-up JC. I'll definitely need to give the movie another look. I think I was ultimately just hoping for something else. The first two acts are quite honestly on the level of some of the best sci-fi I have seen, but then it just resorts to something so silly in order to convey what it wants to convey.
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  #16  
Old 04-23-2012, 09:47 PM
I should mention, just because I'm a big fan of the first two acts of all of his work, that Alex Garland's screenplays and works of fiction all end the same way. I mean think about all the stuff of his you've ever watched or read. Didn't they all end with some dude running around a location chasing a bunch of other dudes? Didn't this always come in stark contrast, seemingly incongruously, with the rest of the work? Doesn't this happen every time despite genre: Adventure, Drama, Zombie, Sci-fi?

By the way, I'll just point people to this

Last edited by Gordon; 04-23-2012 at 09:50 PM..
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  #17  
Old 04-23-2012, 10:45 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
By the way, I'll just point people to this
QT is so hilarious to listen to, but honestly, I don't think I would be able to stand to be in the same room with the guy for more than half an hour. That being said, I completely agree with him on Sunshine's third act. Like Bourne, I completely loved it up until it became a slasher film.

JC's write up does make me want to see it again though.


One of the worst endings I've seen recently: Kill List.
Spoiler:
OMG the whole point of the movie is to get the guy to kill his wife and kid! SHOCKING! It was predictable from the moment he went back to his house, made no sense for the narrative, completely ruined a film that had so much potential and was made purely for shock value. In my experience it failed, miserably. I was angry when I walked out of the screening.


I loved High Tension's ending though, didn't feel cheated at all and completely surprised me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordon View Post
The Fountain was a deeply philosophical meditation on death. The ending is about death and rebirth; it could not be more unambiguous without a film-school style voiceover narrative explanation from a lead character.

But I think more generally speaking, you're asking deeply metaphorical, opaque, stylistic films to suddenly break their raison d'etre and become perspicuous traditional narratives, which is just down right inane.
Spot on. The Fountain and 2001 could not have ended in any other way: a neat sum-up or conclusion to the stories would of been a disaster.

Last edited by DaMovieMan; 04-23-2012 at 10:48 PM..
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  #18  
Old 04-24-2012, 01:50 AM
Life Of David Gale is always the first movie that comes to mind when this topic comes up.

I would also add:

War Of The Worlds
Psycho (The final shot on Anthony Perkins is great though)
Mystic River (It should have ended a few minutes earlier)
Source Code (Same as Mystic River)

I also agree with the Lord Of The Rings and High Tension mentions.
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  #19  
Old 04-24-2012, 06:58 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchbox225 View Post
Life Of David Gale is always the first movie that comes to mind when this topic comes up.

I would also add:

War Of The Worlds
Psycho (The final shot on Anthony Perkins is great though)
Mystic River (It should have ended a few minutes earlier)
Source Code (Same as Mystic River)

I also agree with the Lord Of The Rings and High Tension mentions.
Psycho?

Psycho?!

PSYCHO?!!
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  #20  
Old 04-24-2012, 07:01 PM
I'll say The Innkeepers ending really made the movie an overall disappointment.

But the two worst endings I've ever seen were:
The Devil Inside
Paranormal Entity

For those not familair with Asylums' Paranormal activity ripoff - Paranormal Entity - the films final moments play out like this:

Medium who's come to help the family: "I'm here now, everything's going to be fine."

CUT TO: the camera is knocked over. Everyone's dead.
Roll credits.

Thats really the ending.
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  #21  
Old 04-24-2012, 07:05 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaMovieMan View Post
One of the worst endings I've seen recently: Kill List.
Spoiler:
OMG the whole point of the movie is to get the guy to kill his wife and kid! SHOCKING! It was predictable from the moment he went back to his house, made no sense for the narrative, completely ruined a film that had so much potential and was made purely for shock value. In my experience it failed, miserably. I was angry when I walked out of the screening.
Couldn't agree more. Kill List is fucking dogshit and with a fucking dogshit ending. If I hadn't paid $10 to rent it on VOD, I would've stopped the movie halfway through.
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  #22  
Old 04-24-2012, 07:12 PM
Agree on High Tension. The ending isn't bad, but the movie didn't need it. It was working just fine as a survival thriller; why try and complicate it?

Invincible with Mark Wahlberg. I only remember this movie because it suddenly ends just when you think it should be starting.

And then there's Knowing...

Spoiler:
"Let's see, how can we end this film without seeming like assholes for killing off a couple of kids? Oh, right, aliens!" Seriously? ALIENS?They literally show up out of nowhere. Talk about a cop out. If you're going to end a movie with the end of the world, go through with it instead of cheapening the whole thing.
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  #23  
Old 04-24-2012, 09:59 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamjohnson View Post
Psycho?

Psycho?!

PSYCHO?!!
Yes.

Yes.


Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by adamjohnson View Post
I'll say The Innkeepers ending really made the movie an overall disappointment.

But the two worst endings I've ever seen were:
The Devil Inside
Paranormal Entity


For those not familair with Asylums' Paranormal activity ripoff - Paranormal Entity - the films final moments play out like this:

Medium who's come to help the family: "I'm here now, everything's going to be fine."

CUT TO: the camera is knocked over. Everyone's dead.
Roll credits.

Thats really the ending.

Mind sharing the ending to The Devil Inside?

I visit other forums and recently The Devil Inside is always mentioned as having the worst ending ever.
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  #24  
Old 04-24-2012, 10:54 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by EZM22 View Post
And then there's Knowing...

Spoiler:
"Let's see, how can we end this film without seeming like assholes for killing off a couple of kids? Oh, right, aliens!" Seriously? ALIENS?They literally show up out of nowhere. Talk about a cop out. If you're going to end a movie with the end of the world, go through with it instead of cheapening the whole thing.
Shit! How could I have forgotten about Knowing! The KING of all bad endings IMO! I don't eat movie theater popcorn because I don't like it, but if I was, I'd have wanted to throw it up on the screen when watching that movie.

Unfortunately, the whole movie is pretty bad. It's a movie with a great concept but unfortunately, it didn't know what to do with that concept.
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  #25  
Old 04-25-2012, 03:51 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by poopontheshoes7 View Post
Agreed. Completely undermined the intense as fuck ride we just experience by making it another
Spoiler:
ITS A SPLIT PERSONALITY/IT'S ALL IN THE CHARACTERS HEAD
ending. It can be done well, but it totally wasn't in this case.
I thought High Tension had one of the best endings I've ever seen. Totally didn't see that coming!
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  #26  
Old 04-25-2012, 03:55 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by oh-dae-su View Post
Couldn't agree more. Kill List is fucking dogshit and with a fucking dogshit ending. If I hadn't paid $10 to rent it on VOD, I would've stopped the movie halfway through.
I agree Kill List was a massive disappointment for me. Great until about the half-way point and then WTF?!
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  #27  
Old 04-30-2012, 10:12 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matchbox225 View Post
Yes.

Yes.


Yes.




Mind sharing the ending to The Devil Inside?

I visit other forums and recently The Devil Inside is always mentioned as having the worst ending ever.
Apparently the filmmakers ran out of money. so, while the main girl is possessed, they drive her back to (wherever), the spirit randomly possess the driver, who plows the car into a truck. And they all die.
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  #28  
Old 04-30-2012, 09:53 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamjohnson View Post
Apparently the filmmakers ran out of money. so, while the main girl is possessed, they drive her back to (wherever), the spirit randomly possess the driver, who plows the car into a truck. And they all die.
While that's pretty stupid, I don't know if I would call it the worst ending ever.

Most horror films have shitty endings, but I haven't seen it, so I don't know what the lead up was to it and with that in mind, I'll trust the audience on this.
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