5 Ways An Ending Can Ruin A Movie

Okay, let’s talk about endings. A friend suggested to me that I do a ‘Top 10 Good Movies Ruined By Their Ending’ list a while back, and I tried to work on it only to realise that there are very few examples of that. Not too many can still be considered “good” if the ending did not nail it, and it’s really hard to nail an ending. One film, for example, where the ending does not quite work but the film did quite well was Hereditary. Hereditary’s ending is actually a bit of a weird one all round and it seemed like the writers did not know how to end the movie but had the twist in mind so they just kind of threw everything at the wall and hoped something would stick.

So for this list, I decided to talk about 5 films that demonstrate why an ending is paramount. These films are prime examples are something you really should put a lot of effort into – if you fail at the ending, you fail with the story. Now note, I am not going to be talking about underwhelming endings, I’m going to simply be talking about films that lost all of their good will that they possibly could have had by their endings. And incidentally, since I will know how to talk about the ends of these movies, this one will be the first time I’ll have to put a massive SPOILERS warning here. As a result, I’m just going to have to come out and say that the following films are going to be talked about: Dragon Quest: Your Story, Red Lights, I Am Legend, The Girl With All The Gifts, Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald, Book of Eli and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II. With all that being said, this will not be done in a specific order; these are going to be rather random. But each of the films that I’m going to go into more detail about will represent one of several ways an ending does not quite work.

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald

Reason Why The Ending Sucks: It forced multiple retrospective continuity changes and leaves the audience more confused than when they started.

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald is not a very good film. I actively reviewed it last year and it is indicative of how far off the ball JK Rowling has fallen. It seems that Rowling has never been that comfortable with just putting the Harry Potter universe to one side. There were a lot of big twists in Crimes of Grindelwald. The ending left with Grindelwald leaving with his cultist, including the taking of Ezra Miller’s character from the first film, and they had really been building up this character. After resurrecting him from the first film, they were trying to go with the idea that he was actually the long lost little brother of Leta Lestrange, however they then completely dump that twist because it turns out that that baby was swapped with another one on the trip to America on a ship that sank, which means—yikes—we’ve now had a film with two cases of infant death within it. But then, by the end, Grindelwald reveals two credence: He’s actually the long lost brother of Dumbledore, and this now forces a massive load of retrospective continuity changes since the Harry Potter books and films both went into great detail about Dumbledore’s family history, and this never came up. This does not put all the other Harry Potter stories into a new perspective like a good twist would. Instead, it’s just a twist for the sake of a twist even though it makes no sense.

Also, this means a franchise that was promising now has no enthusiasm going forwards. I really have no enthusiasm for the third part in this trilogy which is kind of stuck in development hell right now, and I would not be surprised if it is just abandoned entirely. What’s more, I’m not hopeful for David Yates coming back to direct it. I’ve heard some reports that he is not too keen on going any further, and honestly this ending is a prime example of it. Another ending that is similar in my mind in terms of how they make the older films worse was Blair Witch (2016), which had a similarly bad ending that did not fit in line with continuity changes.

I Am Legend /
The Girl With All The Gifts

Reason Why The Endings Sucks: The ending was either changed from the book and did not match the tone, or they kept the ending from the book but did not keep the events leading up to the ending.

I put these two together because they are both examples of adaptational changes but for different reasons, and they’re both zombie apocalypse storylines. The Girl With All The Gifts goes with a zombie apocalypse that is a bit different – it’s a fungal infection rather than a viral outbreak that causes a rise of the zombies in this world, which is interesting considering that it was coming out around the same time as The Last of Us which would do the whole concept a lot more successfully. The problem is that, while it does keep the ending from the book, they made tons of changes to the middle of the book, which did not make sense. The Girl With All The Gifts is essentially a story about children being asymptomatic carriers of the zombie virus and a group of adults learning how to control it, with the main character being potentially immune to what essentially is zombie-ism. Wow, now that I actually say it out loud I realise just how much The Last of Us borrowed from this. However, the end of the film has this idea of a rejection of most of the adults and the destruction of humanity, but it comes completely out of nowhere – there have been several character changes from the book throughout the film so this ending feels tacked on and does not actually work. As a result, the film was a complete mess. Still, it’s got nothing on I Am Legend.

I Am Legend did a pretty good job doing a modernized take on a very old book. Will Smith does a very good job having to play essentially a role with no one to interact with, and the way they do zombies in this one is really interesting. The fact they can’t come out in daylight is genuinely cool, and they do a very good job having the idea of a man going through his daily business in order to stay sane. The film has him looking for a cure and then results in the zombies coming to overthrow the house in which he has been keeping an infected person he has been treating, following by the two newcomers that Will Smith discovers having to hide in a safe bunker whilst he takes himself out along with the zombies with a grenade, and they deliver a potential cure to a survivor’s colony. The problem is that this was not what the message of the book was, and the worst part is that they shot another ending. Yeah, they shot a brilliant ending: Will Smith’s character makes the exact same pleas but the zombies do not attack him, they take the infected woman and they leave. It was a brilliant twist – the zombies were entirely sentient, and he is now the monster in their world, not the other way around. Why was this ending scrapped? This was a much better ending! It really ruins any good will the film had prior to this. Trust me, we’re going to be getting back to that one.

Red Lights

Reason Why The Ending Sucks: It comes completely out of nowhere and contradicts a lot of what has been established throughout the film.

This film was a prime example of a twist ending that does not work. I talked a bit about this a few weeks ago but as a recap, Cillian Murphy plays a psychic debunker who works with a woman played by Sigourney Weaver to expose a supposedly blind psychic medium played by Robert De Niro. I was actually really on board for most of this film, but then it had its second half where it dips, culminating in an appalling ending. It does not help that a lot of the actors don’t really get a lot to do in the film outside of Cillian Murphy. Robert De Niro is not in it as much as you would expect in spite of his top status, Sigourney Weaver’s character actually dies halfway through the film, and Toby Jones feels wasted.

Now let’s gets to the ending, however. The film has a lot of weird scenarios going on in it, and then culminates in an ending where it turns out that, in spite of the fact he thinks he has the ability to expose the psychic, Cillian Murphy’s character actually has paranormal powers and has had all throughout the entire film and has been causing most of the weird things that have happened. Right, quick point, this ending comes out of nowhere! This is sub- Shyamalan levels of bad. Incidentally, to put this film in was one of the reasons I had to take out virtually all the bad Shyamalan endings from this list. It also goes along with Book of Eli which also similarly had another twist which falls into the category of this-film’s-twist-is-not-as-clever-as-the writer-thinks-it-is. Red Light’s ending really was just another ending that was there as a twist for the sake of a twist, and it really shows. The film really fails to build up this ending, and as a result it comes completely out of nowhere, and it also comes off as really pretentious. There’s a reason why the critics eviscerated this film. I’m also thankful that this film hasn’t achieved a cult following because I really don’t want to have to defend my position on this film’s ending much longer. Honestly, my description hasn’t done it justice – it’s one of those where you will not get how insane it is until you’ve actually seen it.

Dragon Quest: Your Story

Reason Why The Ending Sucks: It made the entire film pointless.

Dragon Quest: Your Story was one that myself, Reece, Elliot and Ren all devoted a part of an episode of Anime Amigos to talk about. It came out on Netflix earlier this year, and we all were going to bat for it – it’s actually a really excellent recreation of the plotline of Dragon Quest 5, and it tells a very interesting high-fantasy story, recreates Akira Toriyama’s famous designs really well and the animation is excellent. It’s a pretty light-hearted fantasy story but it’s one that really works. It’s kind of a story in two parts, and while the second part does not work quite work as well as the first part, it is overall a genuinely good film. That is, until the ending happened. So, there are all sorts of moments leading up to the events of the final act. A Dark Lord is preparing his big apocalypse, the main character now discovers that he is not exactly the chosen one but that the child he and his love interest had earlier on in the film is actually the one that will save the world, and it’s all building to this final battle which they are beginning to lose, and then… It’s revealed that the entire thing is a virtual reality video game in a slightly futuristic Japan, and none of it was real. It was all within the main character’s head. Are you kidding me?! Nothing they did was worth it – the ending even clarifies that he will have a limited time in this world, and it will disappear soon after he is done.
This film was set to be great, but that one twist meant that none of it was worth it, none of the excellent character interactions; none of the great fights that were set in place; none of the sweet romance story that was set up; none of the cool character dialogue. All of it was pointless because of that one twist. Dragon Quest: Your Story is the prime example of a film that failed miserably because they could not nail the ending. If they took out that end twist, this film would have been excellent. As it stands, it sucks, and that is just because of that ending alone. If you want more details about what we did and did not like about the film, please watch our Anime Amigos episode. A lot of our perspectives come from people who have played the game and haven’t. We were all willing to go to bat for this and say this is one of the best things you can watch on Netflix right now, but as it stands, we really cannot recommend it just because of that ending. But I’m interested to hear what you guys think: What is an ending that failed miserably for its film and why?
Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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