"Much like a turbulent landing overshadowing an otherwise smooth flight, the realm of cinema has witnessed its fair share of brilliant narratives marred by lackluster conclusions. The trajectory of numerous films intricately woos the audience, only to fumble the crescendo in the final act. Whether derailed by a shocking and misjudged twist, exemplified by the sentimental drama 'Pay It Forward' or M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Village,' or succumbing to a narrative fatigue, these movies stand testament to the delicate art of crafting a satisfying ending.
Occasionally, circumstances beyond the filmmakers' control contribute to the downfall. A notable example is 'Fight Club,' where Chinese censors excised the original ending, replacing it with a lamentable alternative, robbing the film of its intended impact. Conversely, some endings result from the conscious choices of writers, with finales that miss the mark in terms of both story and tone.
Embarking on a cinematic journey through highs and lows, here are 17 otherwise commendable films that faltered at the finish line:
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, John Goodman, and John Gallagher Jr. navigate an underground bunker in this captivating sequel. Yet, the revelation of an alien invasion in the final moments shatters the meticulously built tension, leaving audiences with a bitter aftertaste.
Edgar Wright's Hollywood leap with 'Baby Driver' takes an unfortunate detour in its concluding chapters. Straying from the initial rhythmic lightness, the film careens into melodramatic action, causing a collision of tones that undermines its earlier charm.
Initially a witty and unpredictable Tarantino-inspired romp, 'Bad Times at the El Royale' nosedives into disappointment. The takeover by Chris Hemsworth's cult leader transforms the film into a tedious and overblown spectacle, squandering its promising start.
These movies serve as cautionary tales, illustrating the delicate balance required to land a compelling conclusion and leave a lasting impression on audiences."
"The original conclusion of 'Fight Club' delivered a poignant tableau, featuring Edward Norton and Helena Bonham Carter hand in hand, observing the destructive beauty of exploding buildings. However, the Chinese cut took a drastic departure, substituting this impactful scene with an anticlimactic epilogue: 'The police rapidly figured out the whole plan and arrested all criminals, successfully preventing the bomb from exploding.' The substitution was not merely a damp squib; even Chuck Palahniuk, the author of 'Fight Club,' sarcastically remarked, 'Have You Seen This S***? This is SUPER wonderful! Everyone gets a happy ending in China!'
Moving on to the 2020 Christmas romantic comedy, 'Happiest Season,' the film received acclaim for its spirited narrative, a festive queer love story. Despite its overall charm, the potent chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Aubrey Plaza's characters throughout the film casts a shadow on Stewart's ultimate decision to reunite with the unintentionally toxic Mackenzie Davis. It's a narrative thumbtack in the festive figgy pudding—humbug indeed.
In the realm of iconic adventure franchises, 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull' stirred controversy with its infamous "nuclear fridge" scene. While the film is largely entertaining, its climax takes a nosedive as Harrison Ford's intrepid archaeologist activates an alien spaceship. While Indy's venture into science fiction isn't inherently far-fetched, the film inflates the sequence into something not just daft but profoundly uncompelling.
Lastly, revisiting Middle-earth in 'The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,' the epic fantasy saga concludes with mixed feelings. While celebrated for its sweeping narrative, the film's ending, laden with multiple farewells and drawn-out resolutions, tests the patience of even the most devoted fans. As the curtain falls on the trilogy, 'Return of the King' leaves audiences torn between admiration for its grandeur and a lingering sense of narrative excess."
"Peter Jackson's sprawling fantasy epics, known for their indulgent storytelling and three-hour runtimes, reached their zenith in the 'Return of the King.' However, it's precisely at the trilogy's triumphant end that patience gives way to outright frustration. As the dramatic arcs find resolution, the film takes an unexpected turn into an seemingly interminable sequence where Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) reunites with his companions one by one. The elongated farewell drags on, casting a shadow over the trilogy's conclusion and marking 'Return of the King' as the weakest link among the three."
"Orson Welles' 1942 drama 'The Magnificent Ambersons' is a paradox—celebrated as a masterpiece on par with 'Citizen Kane,' yet viewers are deprived of the original cut. A studio-mandated 'happy ending' appended to this intelligent period drama becomes the only available version. While still worthy of viewing, the film's success persists despite its concluding misstep, with the specter of Welles' original vision lingering like a haunting phantom."
"The 2013 thriller 'Now You See Me' aimed to emulate Christopher Nolan's 'The Prestige,' weaving a narrative about magicians and illusion. However, the film fumbled its grand reveal, disclosing that the magic was, in fact, real—a revelation that proved deeply unsatisfying. 'The wizard did it' stands as a significant cop-out, leaving numerous loose ends untied, and a lackluster sequel did little to salvage the situation."
"Challenging conventional uplifting drama tropes, 'Pay It Forward' takes an unexpected and excessively dark turn. The film, centered around Haley Joel Osment's character attempting to better the world, concludes with a shock twist—his character is stabbed to death. This jarring departure leaves audiences feeling as if they've been slapped in the face."
"Alfred Hitchcock's seminal horror, 'Psycho,' boasts cinematic moments for the ages, including the iconic climax revealing Norman Bates' (Anthony Perkins) unsettling secret. However, a clunky, tacked-on epilogue over-explains Norman's psychology in stiff and outdated terms, tarnishing the film's otherwise impeccable ending. Lose the scene, and the film would only be better for it."
As for 'Remember Me,' its conclusion is notably absent from the provided text. If you have specific questions about 'Remember Me' or any other movie, feel free to ask!
"While Robert Pattinson's drama 'Remember Me' garnered appreciation for its first 100-odd minutes, it was the final shot that transformed the film into a cinematic disaster. The last-minute twist, revealing Pattinson standing in the World Trade Center moments before the 9/11 terror attacks, proved catastrophically misjudged, reducing the film to a poor-taste laughing stock."
"Sam Mendes's return to the James Bond franchise in 'Spectre' had promising elements, including an arresting set piece at a Mexican Day of the Dead festival. However, the film's downfall begins with the introduction of Christoph Waltz's Blofeld, leading to a final set piece that manages to be both overblown and witheringly anticlimactic. 'Spectre' struggles to maintain its early momentum, leaving audiences with a less-than-satisfying conclusion."
"M. Night Shyamalan's 2016 psychological horror film, 'Split,' initially captivates with James McAvoy's compelling portrayal of Kevin Wendell Crumb and his multiple personalities. The tension builds as we anticipate the threat of 'The Beast,' only for the reveal to take a supernatural turn. The revelation that 'Split' is a stealth sequel to Shyamalan's previous film 'Unbreakable' may be unexpected, but it disrupts the tension and diminishes the film's overall impact."
"Danny Boyle's 2007 sci-fi 'Sunshine' impresses with its deft and intelligent drama aboard a spacecraft bound for the sun. However, the film takes an unexpected turn into slasher territory in its final act, undermining the character and psychological believability established earlier. Critics, including Marrit Ingman of The Austin Chronicle, criticized the ending for introducing a 'profoundly implausible plot turn' that veers into 'bogeyman horror,' cheapening the sentiment and leaving the film unrecovered."
"As for M. Night Shyamalan's 'The Village,' the filmmaker once again finds himself in the spotlight for a divisive conclusion. While the film is built on an eerie atmosphere and mysterious premise, the twist in the final act has polarized audiences. Some commend the audacity, while others view it as a misstep that detracts from the film's potential impact. 'The Village' stands as a testament to Shyamalan's penchant for narrative surprises, with results that are as divisive as they are thought-provoking."
"Apologies, M. Night Shyamalan, but you've found yourself on this list once again. The Hollywood 'master of the twist' adhered to his signature style with the 2004 period drama, which, in a pivotal turn, discards its period drama facade entirely. The late, esteemed critic Roger Ebert didn't mince words in his review, describing the ending as more than just an anticlimax – it's a 'crummy secret,' a narrative misstep so lacking in wit that discovering it makes you wish to rewind the film and unlearn the secret altogether."
"Edgar Wright's 'The World's End,' the third installment in his renowned Cornetto Trilogy, exhibits the filmmaker's comedic prowess and clever Easter eggs until its climax. The film takes a hit in its final confrontation, where Simon Pegg's obnoxious Gary King faces off with alien body snatchers. Unfortunately, the conclusion neither delivers sufficient humor nor satisfaction to justify the buildup, leaving the audience with a sense of unfulfilled potential."
"As the cinematic journey unfolds, these films take unexpected turns, leaving lasting impressions on audiences. From Ansel Elgort's pulse-pounding performance in 'Baby Driver' to the iconic moments in 'Fight Club,' 'Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,' 'Now You See Me,' and Alfred Hitchcock's horror classic, each film grapples with the delicate balance of conclusion and impact. Whether it's a triumphant crescendo or a misjudged misstep, these endings shape the overall perception of the cinematic experience."
"In the intricate tapestry of cinema, these films navigate the delicate balance between narrative innovation and audience satisfaction. From M. Night Shyamalan's unpredictable twists to Edgar Wright's comedic brilliance, each director leaves an indelible mark on their respective works. As we reflect on the unexpected turns and divisive conclusions, it becomes clear that the ending of a film is not just a resolution; it's a crucial element that shapes the lasting impact and overall perception of the cinematic journey. Whether it's the crummy secrets of Shyamalan, the misjudged climaxes, or the unexpected brilliance, these conclusions contribute to the rich and ever-evolving conversation surrounding the art of storytelling in film."