Posted by: Kelsey | September 6, 2013

The World’s End (and other potentially great movies ruined by crap endings)

I was sold on The World’s End, the new film by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright–I mean, really sold–before I even saw it. What’s not to love? The third and final installment of the so-called “Cornetto Trilogy” (following Shaun of the Dead–one of my favorite flicks–and the funny but less-impressive Hot Fuzz), The World’s End follows five bros as they go on the mother of all pub crawls, the goal to consume 12 pints in one night, but, true to Pegg-Wright form, they ultimately find themselves on the wrong side of a sinister plot in a seemingly innocent town. It’s not spoiling anything to say that the gentle townspeople are not what they seem to be; they are, in fact, evil robots.

"We're going to see this through to the bitter end. Or... lager end."

“We’re going to see this through to the bitter end. Or… lager end.”

Captivated by Pegg’s performance as a coke-snorting, metal-loving, wannabe/has-been, moved by the relationship between the five men (who are both bound by a 20-year-old sandbox love and immense pity for Gary, Pegg’s character), and doubled over by the amount of hilarious and subtle one-liners (“What the f*** does WTF mean?”), I truly thought that this film was going to be the trilogy’s crowning glory. (Which is saying a lot, since I would give Shaun of the Dead a solid “A” rating.)

Unfortunately, Pegg and Wright made 5/6th of a truly great film. As the robot-on-human violence escalates, and the complexities and turmoil underneath the friends’ relationships becomes heartbreakingly apparent–spurred on by the consumption of a wicked amount of the world’s original truth serum, alcohol–it seems an explosive climax is in order. But that doesn’t happen. I won’t spoil the ending for you (I’ll leave that to the screenwriters), but suffice it to say that it was… bizarre. Unexpected and unwelcome. A real buzz-kill. Have you ever been on a roller coaster where the ascent is the most thrilling part? Of course not. It would be stupid to build up that much suspense as you climb and climb the steep hill, clutching your harness handles tighter with every ominous click, masking your fear with quiet shrieks as the incline narrows to 50, 45, 40 degrees, shivering with antici——-pation–only to get to the top and find you have a smooth and slow 10-foot descent back into the little roller coaster shed (whatever that’s called). Boo.

That’s how I felt as the credits rolled on The World’s End. A film that would’ve easily been an “A” is pushing a B/B- in my book. (As a high school math teacher once told me, you can get a 100% on 3 papers, but if you don’t turn the fourth one in, you’re gonna have a 75% average.) It’s so unfortunate. But not the first time I felt this disappointment.

Paranormal Activity (2007)

They call this an "unholy trinity."

They call this an “unholy trinity.”

The original PA was a fantastic horror flick, building suspense with its documentary-style camerawork following a couple who become increasingly and terrifyingly harassed by a demonic force. It was truly what the audience didn’t see that struck fear in our hearts. Mysterious footprints, sheets pulled back by invisible hands, bodies thrown around without an opaque aggressor… yikes! But this fear of the unseen was broken in the last five seconds of the film. Five seconds. That’s the amount of time it took to nearly ruin this great movie for me. Like eating a fantastic five-course meal, then, on your way out of the restaurant, being handed an after-dinner mint that tastes like bile. I still recommend this movie–you’ll feel the urge to cover your eyes a lot as the horror builds, but try save your shut-eye for the last 5-10 seconds.

The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

"Say hello to my little holograms!"

“Say hello to my little holograms!”

I’m sorry if I offend any die-hard Tolkeinites, but this Best Picture Oscar Winner just sucked. After investing like 7 hours of my life to watch the LOTR trilogy, I came upon the BIG FINAL BATTLE in Return of the King with much anticipation and hope. Sam and Frodo are so close to dropping THE ONE RING in the big fiery tower place. Aragorn is about to be done in by the spooky spirits of a bunch of dead traitors. Gandalf & Co. are thisclose to being completely slaughtered by a much bigger, much more powerful army of evil orcs and hooded screech-beasts. Aaaahhh! The tension! The inevitable doom! Edge. Of. My Seat. … What happens?  Frickin’ ghosts on a boat. In less than a minute, the OHMIGOD! HUGE BATTLE! is over, a bunch of stupid transparent silvery-blue dudes having swept in to TOTALLY DEMOLISH all the bad guys. What. Ever. Okay, and all of this doesn’t even mention that the movie still goes on for like ANOTHER HOUR, in which there are no less than FOUR “endings” with loads of sappy reconciliation and elf and hobbit love and boats to heaven and just myriad lameness. Pointless pointlessness.

Gladiator (2000)

"Sing 'Desert Rose' to me one last time, Maximus."

“Sing ‘Desert Rose’ to me one last time, Maximus.”

Ridley Scott’s story of a Roman general-turned-gladiator is overall a pretty decent tale of vengeance, loyalty, and power. The fighting is cool, especially when there are tigers involved. (Tigers!) Joaquin Phoenix does a fantastic job in his portrayal of an insecure, sniveling, jealous, murderous Emperor-to-be, and he’s a lot of fun to loathe. The climax of the film is when the very popular, much-loved and much-respected gladiator(-but-used-to-be-a-GENERAL! SURPRISE MOTHER******S!) finally enters the coliseum ring to fight whiny and much-hated Commodus, who has murdered the gladiator’s family! This is gonna be good! And it is. The boys both get their blows, and in the end, they both perish. Good ending? Woulda been, if the film didn’t suddenly take a trip to the “Afterlife,” where Maximus sees his wife (long hair blowing, of course) and son in a beautiful, peaceful wheat field, beckoning him to join them, as a Sting song plays. Okay. There’s no Sting song. But they’re might as well have been. What is this, Grease? Sandy and Danny Zuko riding a chariot off to heaven? Sap City.

Signs (2002)

Not many people know that Jack LaLanne had a cameo in "Signs."

Not many people know that Jack LaLanne had a cameo in “Signs.”

M. Night Shyamalan has THE WORST track record with dumb gotcha! endings. After The Sixth Sense (I know none of you saw that one coming), his storytelling just really went downhill. It doesn’t get worse than 2004’s The Village, but that’s not on this list because that whole movie totally blows, so the crap ending kinda fits. Also, totally predictable, if you passed 6th grade English. But Signs coulda been really great. Mel Gibson gives one of his best Sad Dad performances (and there are a lot to choose from!) as a father and former capital-F-Father who is losing his religion after his wife is killed in a horrible car crash. Also, there are aliens. They make awesome crop circles–which are so cool, and I’m so glad that there’s a movie that’s kind of centered around them–and everyone wonders if they’re the Mac and Me kind or the To Serve Man kind. Surprise! They’re bad aliens! But some of the long camera shots are really compelling, and I totally found myself jumping out of my seat when Joaquin Phoenix’s character is watching news footage of a big green man crashing a kid’s birthday party. The notoriously hated ending ruins all of this suspense and will-they-or-won’t-they-kill-us tension when they show the alien, and he’s made by the same CGI guys who recently worked on Sharknado. I mean, he looks awful. Not frightening at all. And the way they kill this unstoppable menace 2 society?  A glass of water and a baseball bat. Turns out the dummies are allergic to H2O but still decided to land on a planet that’s 75% water. *rolls eyes*

What do you think? What movies have disappointed you? What flicks could’ve been great but were ruined by a bad final act?



  1. […] The World’s End (and other potentially great movies ruined by crap endings) ( […]

  2. I think your’re totally off on The Village. I love the atmosphere. It’s a fall favorite for me!

    • I can definitely agree that The Village has a great autumn atmosphere. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I remember finding it predictable and over-dramatic. I will admit that there are some great performances, though! Speaking of fall favorites, I think I’m going to make a Top 10 of my favorite fall flicks soon. 🙂
      Thanks for commenting!

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