As far as the entertainment medium goes, movies rank right up with little or no competition. Everyone loves great characters and plot. A movie can start out with terrific three-dimensional actors and a unique, awe-inspiring premise. Yet when it comes to the third act before the curtain call, some movies can blow our minds, albeit not in a good way. Some movies just leave us stone-cold, confused, and disenchanted.
A.I., a movie directed by Steven Spielberg, started off well enough by introducing us to the boy robot, David, who is on a quest to find the “Blue Fairy”, which is a key plot device that might restore him to his mother (who gave him up) and grant his wish to be a real human boy. David does finally catch up to the Blue Fairy, but it is only by accident when he falls from a structure and lands in the ocean. He then sinks to the bottom and comes to rest in full view of Blue Fairy.
Had the movie ended at this point, it would have used the bitter-sweet trope and would have sufficed. Instead, there comes a bizarre sequence in where we are transported to a far-off future to see that advanced robot aliens have rescued David from his watery grave and restored him to functionality. As though reading the boy’s mind, the aliens clone a duplicate mother for David from a strand of hair that was kept by the boy’s toy robot, Teddy. David is given one day to experience the love and companionship of his mother before she ultimately dies, with him following her shortly after. The tack-on ending, meant to draw draws tears, succeeded in drawing a lot of blanks from the audience.
Layer Cake, starring Daniel Craig and directed by Matthew Vaughn, is an admittedly hilarious British crime film that instilled a lighthearted tone and atmosphere for the majority of its running time. In stark contrast, the ending, meant to throttle the viewer like a taser hit, has the star (Craig) mercilessly shot and killed.
Any enjoyment of the movie’s delightful romp up until the death blow is lost on the incomprehensible and needless demise of the MC, which the movie goes to great lengths to develop. Just as the movie had no mercy on its main character, it also had no mercy on the invested audience, ripping them from their comfort zone.
Signs is an alien invasion story starring Mel Gibson that borrows from the crop circle trope but never really explores it, at least like Contact did with the radio telescope. When this movie finally gets around to the alien confrontation we find that these advanced, super-intelligent space beings capable of interstellar flight, not only run around naked and unarmed, but they are incapable of unlocking doors and have a deathly aversion to water–to water, the life-giving solvent of the universe.
It seems all that it takes to repel one is a home-run hitting baseball swing with a Louisville slugger. Or was it actually the faith of the dormant priest in Mel Gibson that felled the enemy? The movie was not only implausible, but too convenient an ending to wrap up this bigger than life plot.
Chasing Amy, a Kevin Smith romantic comedy, is a fun, non-stop laugh fest about discovering one’s identity. It’s pretty deep, given all the witty dialogue, the irony and seriously deep human emotion. Ben Afflick’s character, Holden, has issues and personality turmoil that really reach down to gut level, drawing empathy and understanding.
We really start to feel for this guy and wonder what kind of a new leaf he intends to turn over to set everything right. At the end, and out of nowhere, he blows all ballast from his deep philosophical meanderings to the surface and end up in very shallow waters.
He proposes that the answer to his emotional turmoil is to have a three-way with Jason Lee’s character, Banky, and Joey Adam’s Lauren. That’s right, love solves everything. Only it did not love really, but plain old carnal lust that puts everything life-worthy back into perspective. The movie was like eating steak for dinner then having jelly beans for dessert.
It’s probably one of the funniest movies ever made and it takes the audience right along with Arthur’s quest in search of, you guessed it, the Holy Grail.
However, Arthur never gets to fulfill his quest and win the prize as would be expected or surely anticipated. The final scene takes an abrupt and staggering departure out of left field when cops, who had parts in a previous scene within the film, bust in on the actors and arrest them.
It has the subtlety of a tornado in a trailer park, leaving the audience with a huh what? It appears that they had no ending in the script and flipped a coin for the lamest cop-out they could invent.