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Whether writing a movie, TV series, novel, or any other form of storytelling, one fact rises above all:
. The sentiment is proven on a yearly basis, as countless films deliver an intriguing premise, compelling action, or powerful messages, only to fumble with the closing act. Sometimes, the film’s final impact can be so poorly executed, it leaves audiences wondering whether the film that preceded it was even worth the trouble.
It’s rare that a film’s finale can be so poorly handled, it negates what the movie
up to that point, but it’s just as unfortunate to realize that the characters, the conflict, and the plot in its entirety were all building to an ending that was doomed to fall short from the very start.
Our list of 10 Good Movies Ruined By Terrible Endings shows that strong films can still succeed despite a flawed climax, but in our opinion, they would be even more beloved if their conclusions were just as flawless. Needless to say, SPOILERS abound, so read at your own risk.
story – injected with elements of science fiction and the more unseemly sides of humanity – was put on hold with Kubrick’s death in 1999, eventually falling into the hands of Steven Spielberg.
For most of the film, the story of a robotic boy’s quest to be loved by his human family, cast out, pursued, tormented, and seeking a mystical ‘Blue Fairy’ to make him ‘a real boy’ fall in line with Kubrick’s style. But just when the film reaches its somber conclusion, a plot twist comes screaming in unannounced, leaping David (Haley Joel Osment) millenia into the future. The film’s ending can’t decide whether it wants to be sentimental or somber; a thought-provoking conclusion, but one far cleaner and straightforward than the preceding film (steeped in Kubrick imagery and meaning) seemed to promise.
was anticipated by many, both for its star and the director’s past work on
. Following rare book dealer Dean Corso (Johnny Depp) as he works to verify a centuries-old book designed to conjure the powers of Satan, countless characters are murdered along the way before Corso must watch as his work is used to ‘enter the ninth gate’ – with the attempt resulting in nothing but another death.
Just as a missing page is revealed to be the culprit, said page literally flutters into the story, landing squarely in the main character’s lap. Finally revealing the true story that has been playing out, the film brings Corso to the threshold of immortality, book in hand – and the screen fades to white. Fans have crafted their own theories, but more than any other entry on our list,
fails by simply lacking a real ending. So instead of the eery, moody thriller that preceded it, viewers are left scratching their heads as to the film’s real message.
When discussing “bad endings,” it won’t take long for M. Night Shyamalan’s name to pop up. Although the stunning ending of
proved a twist was going to be something of a trademark), it wasn’t long before some flaws started to show. None of his films are more divisive than
, following a small family in rural Pennsylvania as they suspect and personally witness an alien invasion of Earth.
While a majority of the film has kept to the idea of a single family witnessing an alien invasion, the twist ending plants an alien attacker in their living room, revealing that each traumatic event, failure, and eccentricity of the family was fated to save them. Divine intervention is fine, but the twist is delivered more bluntly than anything prior. Aliens choosing to invade a planet that is covered in water (their only weakness) is enough of a plot hole, but the fact that the drinks scattered throughout the house could have been
shows just how unnecessarily clumsy the conclusion really was.
managed to not only offer a demonic/supernatural drama that was actually grounded in real world New York, but one bolstered by a strong cast – Al Pacino as the aforementioned Devil at the top of the list. It also packs one heck of a twist: after Pacino’s ‘John Milton’ has welcomed young defense attorney Kevin Lomax (Keanu Reeves) to the top of his field – costing him his wife and soul in the process – he reveals that he is Lucifer himself, and Kevin is his son.
Asked to father the Antichrist with his half-sister, Kevin destroys his father’s plan in an act of free will: killing himself. Instead of the movie ending with the Devil once again thwarted, the story rewinds, returning Lomax to the film’s first scenes. No explanation is offered for exactly
(did Satan return him to try again? Was it all in his head? Does Satan have mastery over the universe?), but Kevin takes the chance to do the right thing. That would have been a slightly sappy ending itself, but the final shot of a laughing Pacino clearly still set on corrupting his son turns the movie into a confusing morality tale, instead of the dark, depressing descent into immorality that it had been to that point.
a mystery would be an understatement, but it’s not the enigmatic and unresolved nature of the story itself that turned out to be the problem. The film’s core mystery – the strange black monoliths seemingly calling to mankind – looks to be solved, but the final contact instead sends the audience hurtling through space, before closing on a shot of the infamous ‘Starchild’; a colossal fetus floating in space next to Earth.
Understandably, many critics were just as confused as audiences, with the message hard to grasp beneath the shocking visuals. But the message isn’t entirely ambiguous: the monolith gave apes the wisdom to use weapons and tools, and this second leap (more clearly understand in the “2001″ novel) takes humans beyond their own life and death, emerging as a newborn into a brand new awareness of the larger universe.
remains a classic for everything from its music to set design, but the willingness to leave even curious viewers confused meant that its message remains lost on many, if not most. After charting out the themes sci-fi would follow for decades, the film ends on more of a whimper than the (intellectual) bang it had earned.
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--> TAGS: 2001: a space odyssey, i am legend, signs, sunshine, superman, the wolverine
there have been a lot of good movies with bad endings, but the one that stands out for me (besides every m.night flick), is a kids movie called ‘ring of bright water’…not to spoil anything, but…let’s just say that every parent should shut off the disc about ten minutes before the actual inane ending…
The point of (some) of these movies IS what happens at the end!!! WTF??
I agree with whoever it was that complained about The Mist being left off of this list. The movie was so good, but that ending….
The Mist had an awesome ending! Why does an ending have to be happy? Was it bad because he killed his family or that they could have been saved just moments later?? I think it would have been good if they just ended it at the kills but to KNOW he made the wrong choice made it the perfect ending. Another great movie with an unhappy ending is Arlington Road.
So they weren’t BAD Endings but rather unhappy endings which seems to make people UNHAPPY
Ditto with you, Nicaho. I thought the ending was amazing, and Stephen King himself said he wished he’d thought of that.
“There Will Be Blood” had me rolling right along–”this is an epic!” “This is great!”–until the last twenty minutes. The ending makes no sense, a real letdown.
So you use a still from ‘The Mist’ to lure folks in, then don’t include it on your list? Boooo.
The ending to that film was shocking, yes…but utterly awful. It betrayed the established characters, and reduced the entire preceding story to a single incident, rather than the beginning of the Apocalypse, as it did in the original novella (which still managed to end with the word ‘hope’)…the book ending was more epic and more ambiguous…it left you wondering what happened to the characters, which can be a great thing for thoughtful, intelligent storytelling. If you preferred the novella ending, and own ‘The Mist’ on DVD, get your free copy of the fan edit (The Novella Cut) which contained deleted scenes, chapter headings and the book finale…for FREE.
Totally wrong about the Ninth Gate. The ending lets you imagine what comes next which is just as fun as being spoon-fed the story..
If you don’t immediately think of the original 1969 version of The Italian Job for this list, then you haven’t seen it. I still feel like kicking the director and producers in the behind. They simply left the movie unfinished, which otherwise is a very good, entertaining flick. An allegedly intended sequel was supposed to resolve the story, but it was never made.
the ending of “2001: A Space Odyssey” is evidently Too intellectual for you. Read the book: that explains it a Bit more literally.
“Stephen King himself said he wished he’d thought of that”
If King HAD done that as the ending originally, the story would NOT have had the following it has had for over 20 years…it was trite, out of character, forced and phony…and, again, it changed the finale from being an epic ‘end of the world’ horror epic to an isolated ‘it’s all over folks, nothing to see here’ bad Twilight Zone ‘twist’ not even worthy of M Night.
I’ve seen all but NINTH GATE and agree with all except for SIGNS, I AM LEGEND and WOLVERINE. Didn’t care for WOLVERINE but enjoyed the ending. On I AM LEGEND, the alternate ending may be better (don’t know, haven’t seen it) but I loved the ending of the original – sorry). And, the ending to SIGNS was really good. Both it and I AM LEGEND were two of the best movies in the year they were released.
On a side note, in the book version of 2001, the monolith opens up and the last words of the astronaut to Earth are “My God, it’s full of stars.” Now THAT was a chilling, spine-tingling moment in the book that the movie desperately needed. Of course, Arthur C. Clarke is nuts and the Star Child ending of 2001 is like the stupid ending to his science fiction classic CHILDHOOD’S END.
According to physics, time slows down the closer one travels to the speed of light. Now, it is even theoretically impossible to fly faster, but mathematically it is not and the consequence would be time reversal.
So what we see in the end of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE is actually his perspective of what happens. First he travels near the speed of time and thusly Earth slows down in its time ticks, and as he crosses the speed of light he sees earth reverse. And so the ending of SUPERMAN explained by the mathematics of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.
Time slows down for you (the one going really fast) in relativity to the time of everybody else around you.
Imagine that you leave earth on January 1st 2015 and you travel really fast through space for 5 years. That’s 5 years on your onboard clock. You live 5 years. You experience 5 years. But when you return to earth, it’s January 1st 2025. 10 years has passed on earth. Time slowed down for you. Not in the whole universe.
The idea that time would reverse assumes that time would be able to hit 0 and then go backwards. But it doesn work like that. I’s the gap between your time and the time of everybody else that becomes bigger and bigger as you travel faster and faster and your own time moves slower and slower.
So there isn’t a 0 to be reached. And no reversal. It should be meassured as a ratio between your time and for example the time on earth. It can be 1:2 or 1:5 or 1:10 and so on. It’s not a scale that reached 0 and goes beyond into the negative.
“Time slows down for you” – this is what I mean when I say from his perspective. The faster he flies, the slower everything else will look, like the rotation of earth.
“So there isn’t a 0 to be reached.”. False. Speed of light means times stops from the travellers perspective. A photon leaving the sun takes 8 minutes from our or the suns perceptive, but from the photons perspective it leaves the suns surface and hits your face instantaneously. And this is because it travels by the speed of light. The mathematical consequence of Einstein equations is that faster than the speed of light will reverse the notion of time. Since nothing can go faster it is only a mathematical consequence for sure. However, Superman is super so it explains how a fantastic being could travel back by speed alone.
No no, naturally when he travels the earth will spin faster and faster from his perspective (because his time is slower)…. that is until he reaches the point of the speed of light, when time will stop. And crossing this limit it will reverse, and so his view on earth should be a reversing planet.
In other words he does not reverse the spin, he reverses the time. However, I will give you this: When he travels to the speed of light, the earth should increase in its spin from his perspective. As I remember, it does not. Only its reverse spin can be explained by Einstein.
“The faster he flies, the slower everything else will look, like the rotation of earth.”
It’s actually the other way around. Because his time slows down, to him it would look like the time on earth is going faster.
Here is a better decription made by someone else:
“Imagine you’re standing on Earth holding a clock. Your friend is in a rocket zooming past you at nearly 186,000 miles per second. Your friend is also holding a clock. If you could see your friend’s clock, you’d notice that it seems to be moving a lot more slowly than yours. Your friend, on the other hand, thinks the clock in the rocket is moving just fine, while your clock on the ground seems to be moving very fast.”
And the very important detail is that it is his own time that slows down when he moves faster. But that doesn’t do him any good in relation to the time on earth because it is still moving along at its own speed. So even if his own time could reverse as you suggest, the time on earth wouldn’t.
But there is just no way that his time could reverse. Einstein didn’t say there is a 0 where time stops. It’s relative. There is one speed and another speed and the difference between the two.
Superman could spin around the world for what seemed like 10 seconds to him and when he went back to earth, 20 seconds would have passed. No matter how fast he flew, he would always arrive later than he took off. Because his time when flying makes no difference to the time on earth.
I realised and corrected my blunder mistake. See my comment above. Up until he hits the speed of light earth should look at though it moves faster. When he crosses the speed of light though, it will begin reversing. So part of what we see can be explained by Einstein’s equations.
Regarding: “And the very important detail is that it is his own time” Partly true, it does not do him any good until his is reversing his time, as he then can go back and perhaps stop both nukes.
“So even if his own time could reverse as you suggest, the time on earth wouldn’t.” Incorrect. He would enter at a previous moment in time.
“Einstein didn’t say there is a 0 where time stops.” Incorrect, see deGrasse Tysons clip clop above.
“No matter how fast he flew, he would always arrive later than he took off”. Incorrect, mathematically faster than the speed of light means reversal of time. It is a fact – although impossible to ever accomplish. Also note that I intentionally always mention “mathematically” because theoretically and thus practically it is impossible.
“as he then can go back and perhaps stop both nukes”
No, he can’t. Time on earth has been moving forward at its own speed.
“He would enter at a previous moment in time.”
No, he would not. You’re talking about the theory of relativity and at the same time ignoring the relativity part. His own time is slow in relativity to the time on earth. No matter what happens to his own time, it doesn’t affect the time on earth. So even if his own time could reverse, time on earth would not.
“Incorrect, see deGrasse Tysons clip clop above”
I did see it. But it doesn’t change that it’s all about that relativity. The time only seems to stop in relativity to the time on earth. It doesn’t actually stop. Our time on earth is not universal time. Just because the time of another object seems to have stopped in relation to our time, doesn’t mean it actually have.
“mathematically faster than the speed of light means reversal of time”
I do get that you are talking about the math only and not the practicality. But if you have a formula that gives you this result, it would need to rely on a variable that is the time on earth.
And since the time on earth is only a variable, you would get a different result if you used the time of a different planet than earth.
But the traveler never feels that his time is slower than the time of others. If an hour passes for him, an infinite (probably not infinie, but really high) number of hours have passed on earth. But he would have experienced that hour as an hour. If he had put on Superman The Movie, he would be about half way in
I don’t mind the movie magic. I also love other time travel movies. We can believe that Superman can do this in a movie. No problem.
But if we’re talking about the actual thing and Einstein’s theories, I have to say that Einstein never said time could stop or reverse. The keyword really is relativity.
I’ll end this with another quote from my link:
“And since time can slow down but never goes backwards, there’s no way he could grow younger.”
“His own time is slow in relativity to the time on earth. No matter what happens to his own time, it doesn’t affect the time on earth”. Very true. His time slows so much that it reverses, and when his time travel stops (when he stops flying extremely fast) he and earth sync up, except he is either in the future or in the past. It is not disrespecting relativity, it is accepting it.
You do agree with me that his time can slow down, so he can travel to the future this way.. it is this SAME function I talk about: if taken fast enough, time will slow so much down that it will reverse. The reality is that whenever he stops, he is either in the future time on earth, or the past time… when, depends on his speed before stopping.
“But if you have a formula that gives you this result, it would need to rely on a variable that is the time on earth.” It is the same formula you use, when you accept he can travel to the future. The consequence goes mathematically further than just slowing down and stopping. The consequences goes beyond stopping time, it goes to reversing it.. So says the equations of Einstein if pushed to the limit.
“Einstein never said time could stop or reverse. The keyword really is relativity.” This is blatantly wrong. As an Einsteinian, it is almost blasphemy
The reversal is a well known consequence of his equations, however unimportant it is as the speed limit of light in final. And I also with respect see you misunderstand the concept of relativity. Yes, his and earths times are relatively different, but once he stops flying fast and go back to earth the locality of the two are identical. Actually you agree, you just did not know that speed can stop and eventually reverse time. The function is the same. He flies fast, and 10000 years past on earth. He stops, and he is next to the future earth. Same locality and same time. He flies even faster, and the same equations as before predict time will reverse (times slows so much down it becomes negative) and when he stops, just like before, he is now next to a past earth. Same locality and same time. That is relativity.
Perhaps this consequence is a little known fact in the mass media, but now you know too.
“It is the same formula you use, when you accept he can travel to the future.”
Well, yes and no. A formula would be necessary to calcculate the actual difference depending on the speed of the two objects.
But you can think of it as two different timelines running at two different speeds. And when one of the timelines moves slower, the other timeline will get ahead.
You call it to travel into the future when he leaves the timeline of earth, flies really fast so his own timeline slows down and then returns to earth to find that more time has passed on earth.
But Einstein’s own example of the twin paradox doesn’t see it as a journey into the future but as a slower rate of aging.
And to me that’s a very good way of seeing it, because it becomes clear what time actually represents. It’s not just events around us. It’s everything. Metabolism. Ageing.
If time could reverse for Superman, he would also grow younger.
But it just doesn’t work that way. Time, motion, change is always going forward. The speed is relative. But it’s always forward.
“Mathematically one can go backwards or forwards in the three spatial dimensions. But time doesn’t share this multi-directional freedom.
In this four-dimensional space-time, you’re only able to move forward in time, Liu told LiveScience.”
You can convince me that the formula gives you a negative result if you put in a speed beyond the speed of time. But not that it would work like that in reality.
“However I need to stress again that this is just a crazy thought experiment which produces some weird imaginary time and has no physical meaning.”
“Special relativity states that nothing can go faster than the speed of light. If something were to exceed this limit, it would move BACKWARD in time, according to the theory.”
“There are a lot of barriers to approaching light speed, much less breaking it, but if you could, you could theoretically experience time running BACKWARD, Kaku said. Here’s how it would work: As you approach light speed, you might time goes slower in the outside world than it does for you. When you hit light speed, the outside world goes so slow in relation to you that it stops (again, in relation to you; people in the outside world feel as if time is the same as always). So if you could push past that speed limit, the outside world would be so slow as to be moving backward in relation to you.”
1. Kaku actually says the same thing you did before you corrected yourself and that is that it is the time of the outside world that appears to go slow in relation to you.
But his conclusion relies on that, so if he’s getting that bit wrong, he’s conclusion can’t be right. Right?
2. The experiment performed at CERN showed the neutrino outrunning the light by 60 nanoseconds. This clearly demonstrates that time on earth passed from the time the neutrino was send off until the time it arrived at the finish line. Whatever pace of the neutrino’s own time, the time on earth went forward and the arrival took place after the departure.
It may only have been nanoseconds which to a human observer is no time at all, but to a computer that counts nanoseconds, it’s time going forward.
By 1, My best estimate is that he is impressively quoted. It is obvious if you read the rest of the article. I found those links for you – it is not from where I have my knowledge. It is a general understanding of Einstein’s equations, and rarely something I see in the pop culture. Anyways, times slow down when someone (Superman) is travelling. That means time doesn’t slow down for those not travelling (Earth). When at light speed time will stop. However, mathematically the function continues and time reverses when the speed increase the light speed. And this is what this article tries to talk about.
By 2: No one in the science community believed that the CERN had proved neutrinos could travel faster. And in the end it proved they had not. This neutrino experiment this article from 2011 talks about was erroneous, was expected by most – except maybe the tabloids back then.
“But it just doesn’t work that way. Time, motion, change is always going forward. The speed is relative. But it’s always forward.” I am not talking about nature of things. I am talking about the mathematical consequence of Einstein’s equations, and that they permit reversal of time if one would travel faster than the speed of light. This is an oxymoron in itself. Theoretically though, the flow of time could go in both directions – but that is a different discussion.
“ut not that it would work like that in reality.” It would never work in reality; nothing with mass can ever cross the speed limit of light. The universe would collapse, hence my mathematical references… reality has nothing to do with it.
“However I need to stress again that this is just a crazy thought experiment which produces some weird imaginary time and has no physical meaning.” Yes, because no one can travel faster than the speed of light, and even if, it complicates on multiple other levels than mere time.
Allow me to summarize my point of my original post (as I feel it is lost a bit): According to Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity, time slows as one travels. If at the speed of light, time will stop. If (by magic or kryptonian physic) beyond the speed of light, time will reverse. These facts could help explain the ending of SUPERMAN THE MOVIE.
You opposed my post because you did not realize stopping time was allowed. deGrasse help me explain this. And I suppose you now accept that the extreme I am referring to is a mathematical and known consequence of Albert’s equations. So what we have left is to watch SUPERMAN THE MOVIE it a little different light.
Anyways, Einstein wrote a book back in 1918, and I happen to have a copy of the 1958 edition (in English). It is a small book, where he describes his theories for none-physics. A little heavy, but not crazy. Amazon sells it. I just took it down from my bookshelf, and he describes what I am talking about on page 23-27¨. It is simply called “Relativity: The Special and the General Theory “. Go nuts.
Yup, I probably misunderstood you because I thought you mean that it could be actually possible when it was mathematically possible.
And I only discussed it from the actually possible perspective.
I admit, I clicked on this because of the still image from The Mist so I wanted to read what you had to say about it. Alas, there was no mention of it so whatever..fair enough I suppose. I didn’t care for the ending of it but still think the overall movie was awesome.
Now there is one other movie that comes to my mind when thinking of good movies with bad endings and that is Law Abiding Citizen. If ever there was a poster child for bad movie endings, it would be that movie right there. Excellent movie till the ending where it just leaves you asking yourself “Ok…I loved the film but what was the point of it all now?”
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