TOPS: 10 Worst Film Endings

Warning: There be major spoilers ahead. Anything you read from this TOPS is at your own risk. You have been warned.

10. Grease:

Bye, bye individuality!

I don’t hate this movie at all. It’s a great summer flick that I grew up watching and singing along with. But, as I grew, the ending started to bother me more an more. Think about it: at the end, both Sandy and Danny are willing to change who they are to stay together; Danny is a jock, Sandy is a rebel. However, in the first minute that Sandy arrives at the carnival, Danny reverts straight back to his old self, while Sandy remains changed. It’s just a pet peeve that bothers many others as well, and has been found in quite a few film – such as Hangman’s Curse, or Ten Inch Hero. And then to top it off, there is a flying car. Really?

9. King Kong:

Wait, we don't get character arcs in a three hour movie?

At over three hours, King Kong drags, unlike Peter Jackson’s other long epics, The Lord of the Rings trilogy. This movie fails to capture the classical nature of the original King Kong and fails to hold our attention like The Lord of the Rings. The ending is what’s really bothersome. So many characters are introduced and then killed of without a moment of grief, but even worse are the survivors. Some of the survivors are not even mentioned, like the captain and Jimmy, and the ones that are have not grown, or have grown very little. The fact that Jack is writing a comedy or that Ann is a chorus girl does not seem to correlate as an effect of the adventure they just had. In fact, the only member of the expedition with a cohesive character growth is Denham’s assistant, Preston, who finally comes to see Denham for the dangerous opportunist he is. Plus, King Kong is an abusive abductor, so Ann’s decision to risk the life of herself and all the other humans to save Kong is befuddling.

8.The Lake House:

I don't remember you, even though we've already made out in the past!

Awww, it’s a cut romantic story that reunites Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves of Speed fame (THAT IS BASED ON A PARADOX  EVENT!). At the end of the film, the audience finds out that the entire chain of events that brought Bullock to the lake house is brought on by the death of Keanu Reeves. Because somehow, after Reeves meeting her twice in her past (Bullock is living two years ahead of Reeves) she still  doesn’t recognized him after he dies in her arms. So when she finally figures out this fact, she of course warns him not to go. But she wouldn’t have gone to the lake house if she hadn’t been so distraught by being unable to save a patient (Reeves). So at the end, he waited and they end up together, after having totally altered the course of the past, but somehow the future remains the same. This is however opposite in “the tree scene”, where he plants a tree in the 2006, only to have the tree magically appear over her head in 2008. No sense. At least in Il Mare, the original Korean film, they have the decency to have the original timeline erased at the end because of their actions, while still making it a romantic ending.

7.  War of the Worlds:

Okay, what plot twist will save me this time?

I might not have the highest opinion of Orson Wells as a person, but no one can deny his contributions to film and radio nor his ability to entertain an audience in the original broadcast of “War of the Worlds”. Spielberg, also, is considered one of the best storytellers alive today, however, his reimagining of War of the Worlds lacks cohesive story.  The story jumps for one location to another, and one amazing survival after another. Up until the point where, like in the original, the aliens die because of lack of immunity to common earth bacteria. But because characters rarely survive because of wit or strength and instead are merely lucky, the ending feels so deus ex machina that even though it is the original ending, it falls flat. It also doesn’t help that somehow, the son survives and makes it back home on his own, when Cruise and Fanning could barely make it together.

6. Premonition:

This. does. not. make. any. sense!

Sorry, Sandra Bullock, you do not pick the best time travel films to act in. The Lake House is at least romantic, enjoyable, and has a great amount of chemistry between the leads (which is saying something, considering that they hardly have any screen time together). The audience just has to get past the incomprehensible ending (It you haven’t or don’t want to learn quantum theory, the ending is easier to accept; I however haven’t been able to let it go yet). But back to Premonition, this movie is still as mind-boggling as The Lake House, but the dramatic/horror/thriller/ overtones of the film make it so much more of a struggle to sit through. The fact that Bullock causes the event that she so desperately tried to prevent, and the meaning of the “life is a miracle” theme at the end feels cheap when looking back at the events of the movie.

5. AI: Artificial Intelligence:

It's the really twisted Pincocchio movie!

I feel really guilty having Spielberg on this list twice, but even the best of directors can have a few bad apples in their long line of successes. This movie, a joint effort between Spielberg and Stanley Kubrick, lacks a cathartic ending (more on this later). In the end, the human race is gone, and the android boy who just wants to be a real boy and be loved by his human mother has just enough time to say goodbye to her, sort-of thanks to cloning technology. The ending comes across as depressing and unsatisfying, especially since this is coming from a storyteller who is usually known for writing satisfying endings.

4. Planet of the Apes:

Ape-raham Lincoln

            To be honest, I haven’t even seen this movie, but I’ve heard from enough people that it has to be on this list.  It sounds awful. Unlike the original, there are wormholes and time travel and such. So in the end, the apes change Earth’s history, and this is shown by the Lincoln Memorial now having an ape’s face? Okay.

3. “It’s not over yet”

Die already!

This ending is a staple for almost all horror movies. Friday the 13th. Halloween. Nightmare on Elm Street. It doesn’t mean that it’s a good ending, however.  Remember how I was talking about cathartic endings? The “its not over yet” model cancels out any catharsis that was created. There is a difference between a “happy ending” and a ending that fits the arc of the story. If a movie calls for not-s0-happy ending, it should have one because that’s what it’s been leading to. In horror movies, however, the movie decides that after the protagonist that has survived is still in danger of getting killed, because the killer is still out there, no matter how many pieces he’s been chopped into. All for the sake of a possible sequel. This twist has become so commonplace, I can’t help but roll my eyes and immediately lose respect for the film.

2. “He/She was the killer all along”

I'm gonna pretend to be afraid!

Let’s list some films that have used this storyline. High Tension. Perfect Stranger. Hide and Seek. Secret Window. Number 23. No matter how bad these movies are, no matter how badly they do in theatres, they keep making more! The two main problems of these movies is that A. It’s obvious from the first act of the movie or B. The twist at the end makes no sense to the characters. Think of Perfect Stranger. The ending of that movie is that Halle Berry was the killer all along, although we follow her throughout the movie and she shows herself to be scared when she is alone in the “killer’s” house. What? It just doesn’t work at all.

1. Alien 3:

            Honesty alert: The number one movie on my list is not about the ending of the movie. To be fair, the ending is bad, but that’s not the worst part of the movie. So the ending of Cameron’s Aliens is that Ripley(Sigourney Weaver) can finally start a normal life again, the nightmare’s over, she “can dream”, and can dream of having a daughter again and even maybe a relationship with Hicks(Michael Biehn).  However, at the beginning of the Alien3, the script (one out of eleven written, I might add) called for the ship to crash and for Newt and Hicks to die so that Ripley could continue to be a lone warrior woman. This is includes that after a nicely simple, subtle, and not at all sappy flirtation with Hicks, she suddenly decides to jump into bed with the first person she meets on the planet, probably less than a day after she finds out Hicks was killed. On top of this, she only looks at Newt as a possible host to a xenomorph, not as a girl she had just taken care of and saved her life. In Aliens, Ripley was expanded upon; in Alien3, Ripley’s personality is changed. Plus, it’s bad form to have two different ships at two different times at the beginning of two consecutive Alien movies to become lost and end up in a different location than where the ship’s computer was supposed to go. With Cameron’s it was a way new, even if kind of lame, however, to have it twice makes the technology of these people seems very unreliable and dangerous. It’s amazing that this mess of a movie was created by one of the greatest director’s of our time, David Fincher.


7 thoughts on “TOPS: 10 Worst Film Endings

  1. First off, I’m going to disagree that King Kong is an abusive abductor! King Kong just so happened to be a giant gorilla whose environment was encroached upon. Kong was simply a wild animal that people and their desires for fame and wealth couldn’t ignore. So it’s not the gorilla’s fault, thus I agree with Ann’s rush to save him at the end. Ann clearly fell in love with Kong over the course of the movie and didn’t want to see him dead. I’ll have to chalk this up as disagreement.

    Planet of the Apes wasn’t terrible, sure the ending was bit cliche, but don’t you think it’s harsh to include something you’ve never seen as the #4 worst ending?

    And I’ll have to disagree with you again on Perfect Stranger, I thought the ending was clever and smart. Then again, I love a good third act twist!

    Love the photo captions, btw.

  2. I can see your point of view as well on King Kong, which is why it’s only number nine. I tried to put ones that are more of just my opinion near the top, since I know they are more just my pet peeves than a widely excepted opinion.
    As far as Planet of the Apes, three different people while I was writing it said it deserved to be #1, so actually number 4 is not as bad.
    And, I’m sorry I just couldn’t stand the Perfect Stranger.

  3. Hi Margaret and thank you for your thoughts on this Top 10.

    I would have to say that this list probably contains not only some of the worst endings but some of the worst movies…..period!

    Suffice it to say that Sandra Bullock features prominently, ugh she is horrendous.

    Planet of the Apes……I assume you are referring to Rise of the Planet of the Apes…..from this year……a bit too cheeky don’t you think having not even seen the movie. I would disagree with Rise being on this list as I felt like many other movie enthusiasts that it was an excellent film and I was not disappointed with any part of the movie.

    By the way in your retort to Bobby did you really mean “…widely excepted opinion.”


    Do the ASB reviewers submit their offerings to be proof read (not censored) before they are posted….? I always feel that a second set of eyes is invaluable.


    • ASB readers are never censored and are not proof read either. Mistakes are mistakes.

      As far as which movie is in question for #4, it’s Planet of the Apes from 2001, not Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Do you recall an Abraham Lincoln-esque statue in Rise of the Planet of the Apes?

      As for Sandra Bullock, she’s not horrendous. I’d venture to say 90% of the time she accomplishes what she’s supposed to in regard to her characters. Actors are sometimes only as good as the script. Her performance in The Blind Side is probably her greatest and a testament to how much she’s improved since her days in Speed.

  4. …how can you criticise something without actually seeing it?? PotA (that’s what the cool kids call it) is quite a bad film but you can’t bitch about it if you haven’t actually seen it.

    You also can’t really complain about the Nightmare on Elm Street type films as they go out their way to make it bad… I’m guessing you don’t watch a lot of 90’s horror flicks I’m sure your eyes would just roll out of your face.

    Any ways, make a better list… you were almost there.

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