A bad ending to an okay movie is fine. You probably weren't that invested and will just shrug it off and move onto the next film. But when a film is on the edge of greatness and then squanders it with a terrible conclusion, well that's just not on.
All these films were doing well until the final few minutes. Then they ruined it all. N.B. Spoilers-a-go-go, obviously.
There are several M. Night Shyamalan films that start well and then disappear up their own fundament with a horrible twist – The Lady In The Water, The Village – but none of them are as disappointing as Signs. Before the aliens show up it’s a deeply creepy story of paranoia and constant threat and on a path to becoming one of the great alien invasion movies. Then the aliens reveal themselves in a flurry of disappointing CGI and there’s a load of nonsense about dead wives leaving secret messages and the aliens are killed with a glass of water. Why would they invade a planet that has death liquid falling from the sky all the time?
(500) Days Of Summer
Coming to the end of the charming, very funny story of his relationship with a woman called Summer (Zooey Deschanel), Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) has a flirtatious encounter with a woman who we’re led to believe might become his next girlfriend. Her name? Autumn. And then the whole audience dies of twee.
I Am Legend
Hollywood studios are terrified of unhappy endings. The whole point of Richard Matheson’s book about the one man left uninfected by a vampire-like virus that’s obliterated humanity is that he must eventually die, that he’s the anomaly and the ‘monsters’ are the new normal. In the movie, after many excellent scenes showing what it would be like to be the last man on Earth, our hero (Will Smith) finds a cure for the virus, killing himself but offering a future for the few remaining humans. It’s literally the opposite of the story’s point.
In this adaptation of Stephen King’s massive novel, Tim Curry is terrifying as the murderous clown Pennywise. The big ant-monster thing he’s revealed to be at the end is not.
Iron Man 3
For the most part, the third Iron Man is the best of the series. At the end, however, it has the same problem as the first, falling back on a drab, largely nonsensical CG fight. Why did Tony Stark suddenly choose now to call upon his many extra Iron Man suits, and not all the other times they might have been helpful? What was the goal of Killian’s incredibly elaborate plan, other than just being evil? It felt like an ending wholly based on the idea ‘wouldn’t it be cool if there were loads of Iron Men?’ Yes, but as part of a resolution that has logic and the audience can follow.
A terrific, tight horror in which a woman is stalked by an apparently unstoppable lunatic is completely undone when it’s revealed the woman was the unstoppable lunatic all along. It’s a complete cop-out that doesn’t fit together and feels like a very lazy get out.
The reason this doesn't work is that it feels hauled in from a completely different movie. Much of Sunshine is a survival movie, and one that's extremely tense and effective. Then in its final act it becomes a surreal horror movie that's very hard to follow and not nearly as frightening as everything that came before the 'monster' showed up.
War Of The Worlds
The ending of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ alien invasion movie is actually very faithful to the original novel, but unfortunately it’s an ending that’s completely unsatisfying as the conclusion of an effects blockbuster. After 90 minutes of spectacular fights between helpless humans and alien spaceships, the extra-terrestrials keel over when they catch a common cold, to which they have no immunity. Yes, it’s an ending that makes you think a bit, but as a blockbuster climax it’s a whimper not a bang. It's an ending to be read, not watched.
Jurassic Park: The Lost World
Many people seem to remember this movie as terrible from beginning to end, but for most of its running time it's great fun, if not as good as the perfect first movie. However, when the dinosaurs venture over to civilisation it gets sillier and sillier and less and less engaging. It's far less fun when humans massively outnumber the dinosaurs instead of the other way round.
No Country For Old Men
Yeah yeah yeah, some people love this ending, thinking it a poetic comment on the very notion of endings and how a neat ending isn't necessarily the eternal end game. Nonsense. A non-ending is by definition not an ending. Ergo, cannot be a good ending. That's just science.
(Images: AllStar, Rex)