In today’s Independent, there’s a feature that looks at the best movie endings of all time. In among there are the usual suspects: Chinatown, Casablanca, The Third Man et al are all, justifiably, present and accouted for.
But for those of us without a degree in film studies, or who also like films made of a geeky nature in the last twenty years or so, what are the other great movie endings in recent memory?
Well, how about this little lot top get the debate started….Terminator 3A much-maligned film, but you have to admit the ending has real balls. Instead of the slap-happy-we’ve-escaped-la-di-da usual stuff, off goes the nuclear bang and John Connor and his soon-to-be-missus realise that their whole journey has been about keeping them safe, not saving the world. Fair game.
The ThingKurt Russell and Keith David settle down in sub-zero temperatures, their arctic camp burning up around them, each with no idea whether the other is infected and about to ‘thing out’. They sit at a respectful distance from each other and (perhaps rather foolishly) share a bottle of whiskey. “So what are we gonna do?” asks David. ‘Let’s just wait and…see what happens.” replies Russell. Credits.
Batman BeginsThe crowd-pleasing action bit at the end was blatantly the worst bit of Batman Begins, an otherwise damn-near-perfect superhero movie. But Gary Oldman showing the Bat the playing card with the Joker on it? That’s goosebump cinema right there.The Blair Witch ProjectIs it geeky? Who cares. An ending that doesn’t layer on lots of happy explanations and instead delivers something that’s both logical and terrifying. What’s not to love?
The Empire Strikes BackGenius. An ending where the good guys blatantly haven’t won, are weaker than they were at the start of the film and staring bleakly into a future that they know holds their biggest battle ever. Oh, and one of their number is frozen solid. Even given Simon’s middling feelings towards the Star Wars franchise, there’s little doubt that this one’s a cracker.
Spider-manWe’ve argued this one, but at the very worst an ending them sets up a future conflict with Peter and Harry has to be applauded. The fact that Harry is blissfully unaware at this stage of Peter’s alter-ego, and vows to kill Spider-man, is enough to sell you a ticket for the next one. Shame they bollocksed-up the story arc in Spider-man 3.
A Boy And His Dog ABAHD (1975) was almost the last hurrah for post-nuclear sci-fi (apart from Logan’s Run in 1976). A cherubic Don Johnson leaves his faithful mutant telepathic mutt behind and descends into a secret underground civilisation for love of one of its denizens. Probably the very last thing most viewers would expect is that the dog turns out, in the last few seconds, to have eaten his master’s love interest. Johnson shrugs it off and they head off into the sunset.
Field Of DreamsWe’ve talk about this film before on DoG, not least because, well, Simon loves it. But this is an ending that genuinely ties up a story arc in a moving, pitch-perfect manner. It also justifies that entire film’s premise in one foul swoop. Not bad, for a film pitched around hearing voices in a cornfield.
Blade RunnerAfter breaking his fingers and generally beating the living hell out of Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer’s oddball replicant decides not to kill him, and concludes a 20-minute fight with one of the most poignant dialogues in sci-fi history. “All these moments will be lost in time..like tears in rain” now ranks with Klaatu’s closing speech in The Day The Earth Stood Still.
The VillageWe’re split. Appreciating that M Night Shyamalan has shown that he pretty much writes his films around the ending, the ending of The Village nonetheless has its fans at DoG. The film before it doesn’t, but the idea that it’s lots of people living in a ye olde community in the modern day is still a neat idea. You can have cracking endings to piss-poor films after all…
Thoughts, rants and opinions in the comments box please, along with suggestions for part two of this feature…!