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|Top Ten Worst Endings|
|Written by Trent Daniel|
|Monday, 26 July 2010 13:34|
1. High Tension (2003)
This one was particularly frustrating for me as a horror fan. For much of its run time, High Tension is arguably the best and scariest slasher film since the original Halloween. It is an intense, gory and unrelenting cat and mouse game between a young woman and a brute of a truck driver who is holding her friend hostage. However, the film is nearly ruined by a totally ridiculous twist: the young woman and the killer are actually the same person. This twist is senseless because A) some of the kills seem to require superhuman strength. They might be possible for the bear of a truck driver, but improbable for a woman roughly half his size; and B) there is a car chase in the middle of the film between the victim and the killer. Did she somehow drive two cars at once and chase herself? Is the audience supposed to somehow suspend disbelief and accept that she (and the kidnapped girl, for that matter) imagined the car chase? If it had maintained the pace it started with and found a more believable ending, this could have been a horror classic. What a waste.
2. The Life of David Gale (2003)
In this oh-so-serious drama, a militant anti-death penalty activist (Kevin Spacey) finds himself on death row in Texas for the rape murder of a former friend. Though the film clearly intends to take an anti-death penalty stance, its ridiculous twist at the end not only undermines the film, but its message as well. At the end, a reporter (Kate Winslett) finds a video that shows the victim killed herself, yet Spacey, with her assistance, elaborately and convincingly frames himself for the murder. The problem: the best argument against the death penalty would be to prove that a completely innocent person was put to death-yet Spaceyís self-framing was convincing enough to make it look like he did it! You donít prove something is broken by breaking it further. The ending would not convince anyone really that the death penalty is wrong. It would just convince them that Spaceyís character was an idiot.
3. The Return of the Jedi (1983)
Though Iím not a Star Wars fanatic, I do enjoy the films immensely. However, one major flaw in the story arc simply cannot be ignored. The fearsome, unstoppable Empire, which imposed its will on much of the universe throughout the series, was taken down in large part by-a planet of Care Bears. Did the entire saga really need to end with all the Ewoks dancing their little legs off around a campfire?
4. Planet of the Apes (2001)
To be fair, the original Planet of the Apes (1968) had one of the greatest movie endings of all time (and I donít want to spoil it for those who havenít experienced it). There was no way the remake could top it and a complete copy of the ending would not have been as effective. Still, the remakeís ending makes no sense whatsoever. After spaceman Mark Wahlberg seemingly returns to Earth, he finds a desolate Washington DC. He heads to the Lincoln Memorial-only to find that Lincoln has a simian face. It is a jarring shot, but what does it mean? Did he simply crash land in a different part of the same ape planet? Is he in an alternate universe? What the heck? An ending should not be shocking just for shockís sake. It must make at least some sense.
5. Collateral (2004)
For most of its run, Collateral is an excellent crime thriller, with cabbie Jamie Foxx being forced to drive around a cold blooded hit man (Tom Cruise, in a subtle but strong performance) as he makes his rounds. The film is suspenseful and has surprising depth at times (including a beautiful and poignant shot of coyotes loose on a downtown LA road). However, the movie is nearly ruined by forcing, like a square peg in a round whole, an unnecessary action filled ending. It turns out Jada Pinkett Smith, who Foxx only briefly drove around before picking up Cruiseís character, is the final hit. Foxx then turns into ìsuper cabbieî and successfully outwits and outfights Cruise, who was coolly efficient and innovative throughout most of the movie. Iíve always strongly suspected that the makers of this film intended a deeper, perhaps darker ending, but were forced to add action and a happy ending by the studio.
6. Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
The movie ends with the ring being destroyed and Frodo and Sam making it off Mt. Doom. Perfect ending to a landmark trilogy. No, wait, we need to see Aragon become king, then bow to the hobbits. The end. Whoops! The hobbits need to go back to the shire and have Sam get married. Great. Wait, hold on, Frodo starts to write an account of his adventure, setting the story full circle. The end. No, wait a second. Frodo has to get on some boat and sail off into the sunset with Gandalf and Bilbo. Ok, is that it now? Finally!
7. Arlington Road (1999)
In this well cast thriller, a professor (Jeff Bridges) suspects that his new neighbor (Tim Robbins) is a domestic terrorist. As it turns out, heís right. However, this film is yet another example of how a forced twist ending can ruin a picture: at the conclusion, Bridges races to a federal building to alert them of an impending terrorist attack, but it turns out he unknowingly drives the bomb, hidden in his trunk, into the federal building himself. Why this doesnít work is that the whole sequence is completely implausible: it depends on Bridges seeing a suspicious truck at precisely the right moment, as well as being able, James Bond style, to successfully outmaneuver several police cars and security agents in his domestic sedan in order to get into the basement of the building.
8. Psycho (1960)
First off, Psycho is still a masterpiece and still ranks among the scariest and all around best films ever. Still, why did Hitchcock conclude the film with the long and unnecessary scene where the psychiatrist has an ìokay kids, let me explain just what happenedî monologue? If the film had instead cut from the introduction of ìmotherî to Normanís blood curdling leer in the cell (ìWhy she wouldnít even hurt a fly!î), it would have been nearly perfect (and unbearably chilling).
9. The Great Escape (1965)
This is perhaps a rare case where fudging the truth a bit wouldnít hurt. Based on a true story about Allied POWs planning an elaborate escape from a Nazi prisoner of war camp, the movie is for the most part a truly exciting thriller as the heroes put their elaborate plan into action. However, at the end . . . nearly every hero is either captured or killed (including a sequence where 50 or so escapees are machine gunned in a field). Though the ending is truthful, it is a major downer and sours much of the excitement that preceded it.
10. The Day after Tomorrow (2004)
One of the stupidest movies of all time ends on a particularly stupid note. This disaster movie (literally and figuratively) intends to communicate a pro-green message, but is instead a mishmash of faulty science (yeah, Iím sure Jake Gyllenhall can physically outrun FROST) and wink-wink anti-American digs (ho-ho! the Americans are crashing the Mexican border!). At the end, after the surviving Vice President apologizes for past treatment of Third World nations and thanks them for their hospitality (translation: ìWe suckî), an astronaut looks out the window of a space station, sees the desolation that has occurred over most of Europe and North America and coos ìThe Earth has never looked so GREEEEEEN!î Yep, the world is better off now that most of the Americans and Europeans are dead! Drive home safely!
|Last Updated on Monday, 26 July 2010 13:39|
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