Monday, April 14, 2008

Next!!

At the risk of being repetitive, I'm reviewing another movie. Only it's going to be more of an angry rant, which I'm hoping will be cathartic. I'm pissed, you see. I just wasted a night watching a movie that paid off with exactly nothing.

Be warned, I'm about to spoil this movie for everyone that hasn't seen it. I'm hoping that by spoiling it (and the movies in the list below) you won't want to watch it. By limiting the number of people that want to see this crap, I'll effectively change Hollywood into making movies that have endings that actually make sense. Money talks and if movies like this don't make money, then they'll stop making them.

It won't happen, but I can dream.

The movie in question is 'Next' starring Nicholas Cage, his awful hair piece, Jessica Biel, and Julianne Moore. Cage's character has the unique ability to see two minutes into the future, but only his future and ONLY two minutes. This two minutes is crucial to the plot, as you'll soon see.

Moore plays an FBI agent trying to track down a nuke that is floating around the Los Angeles area and will soon be set off. She seems to think Cage can help her find the nuke using his abilities. Cage, understandably, is reluctant since 'people like you put people like me in cages'. Or something like that. He runs and this turns into a fun chase movie with Cage able to anticipate their every move since, you know, he can see two minutes into the future.

This is also used to great effect during an opening scene where Cage needs to escape a Vegas casino and avoid the swarming security. He stops, turns, bends at just the right moment to avoid being seen.

But Cage is a troubled man (aren't they all) and is obsessed with a certain girl who he has envisioned showing up at a diner. Only she doesn't show up after two minutes. So Cage spends every day at the same time at the same diner waiting for her to show up. She does, of course, and it turns out to be Biel (looking fantastic as always). He charms her and part of the fun of this movie is how he mentally tries different approaches on her to see if which ones will succeed. He finally charms her and manages to hitch a ride with her to Arizona because, well he knows where she's going, you see. He can see the future (eerie music here, please).

So far, so good. The movie gets involved in the terrorists trying to kill Cage for a reason not even they seem to know. Moore's FBI agent spends more time trying to catch Cage then tracking down the nuke (which, call me crazy, might be more productive). There is some haziness with how exactly Cage will help them when he can only see two minutes into the future, but whatever. This is an action movie and there are some cool scenes; the best being a down hill chase that involves dodging bullets, rolling logs and a runaway jeep.

But the girl gets caught of course. Biel gets taken by the terrorist, Cage gets taken by the Feds and tie him up in a basement and force him watch the news and 'stretch that two minutes as far as you can' in order to see where the nuke is going to explode. Only instead he see news footage of Biel tied to a wheelchair, vested with explosives and finally blowing up on top of a parking garage.

He MUST STOP IT! He escapes, helps rescue Biel, but in a last minute twist realizes he made a terrible mistake. In the distance the nuclear bomb goes off and it wipes out all of Los Angeles and we see Cage and Biel die in a fiery blaze of radioactivity. Cool.

But just as suddenly, Cage wakes up and he's still in the Arizona cabin with Biel. That's right. He managed to see days into the future and everything in which we just invested ourselves didn't really happen!! What the fuck!!!???

Cage calls up Moore's agent (still staking out the cabin) and says he'll help on the condition that Biel isn't involved in any way. Fine, she says and he heads out to save the world. The end.

No, really, THE END. The movie doesn't even tack on a 10 minute chase to find and disarm the nuke! We see Moore and Cage heading off in a black SUV, driving rather slowly considering the urgency of the matter. The fucking end! I hate movies like this. They suck you in, get you invested, then pull the rug out from beneath you and say 'Gotcha! Suckers!' Nothing that happened really happened.

Nevermind the cheap, cop out of an ending, there is another issue with this ending in that the terrorists were still watching Cage's character in the cabin, too. They know the girl is still there. How is leaving her alone and going with the Feds helping here at all? If anything it's leaving her in the lurch. And how is his two minute seeing in the future thing going to help? And how did he suddenly manage to see days into the future?

Again, I say what the fuck??!!!

This is the equivalent of the 'Lost' finale showing Jack waking up in a jolt and realizing he was just having a bad dream. How pissed would you be if that happened? That's how I feel now. Not just because of the ending, but because the ending effectively ruined everything that came before it. What came before it was pretty entertaining, too. I think that's what really got me riled. They put all this thought and effort into this movie then couldn't think of an ending so let's just make it a dream. WHAT??!!

I'm done. I'm now on a crusade that I will ruin every bad ending I see. Hollywood, you have been warned! I don't mind endings that make you think or endings that are 'happy' or even endings that attempt to tie everything together. Even if they fail, make it interesting and don't cheapen everything that came before it. Not only are you offending every person watching this tripe, but you're screwing yourselves over and exposing yourselves as unoriginal and lazy. Think of something! Anything!

In this vein of thought, here are some of the worst endings I have seen. I'm giving the endings away, just so you know. Spoilers galore below, so don't read if you want to see any shitty movies.

Perfect Stranger: Halle Berry plays the friend of some girl that gets murdered and she thinks Bruce Willis' fashion magazine founder is behind it (because that's what millionaire fashion magazine guys all do with their free time). She spends a crap load of time trying to tie it all together when it turns out she is the killer all along! Yay for her! She even kills her best friend when he figures it out, which is when we find out. So....um....why exactly was she spending so much time tracking Willis? Sorry, they never explain any of that. I'm guessing it was to frame him, but that's just a guess. By the way, this is the same ending of 'Hide and Seek' with DeNiro and 'Secret Window' with Johnny Depp. There I just ruined three crappy movies in one paragraph.

Vanilla Sky: Another borderline brilliant and interesting story killed by a 'we're in a virtual reality' ending. Nothing really happened. The entire movie was bullshit. Thanks for coming.

The Game: Michael Douglas gets the most confusing, expensive and ultimately useless birthday gift of all time. At times frightening, paranoid and thrilling, this movie ends with Douglas jumping to his death but winds up falling on a big cushion and finding all his friends there cheering his attempted suicide. See, his entire crisis was manufactured and he was never in any real danger. I subtract points because it didn't explain what they would have done if he jumped off another part of the building and splattered to his death. Ironically, that ending would have made this movie an all time great.

Identity: This is the one with John Cusak and Ray Liotta and bunch of other people stuck in a motel when people start dying in increasingly gruesome fashion. I loved the first hour of this movie. It was gory and creepy with a curious super natural bent to it all. I was dying to figure out what was going on. Then it was revealed that they really weren't people at all. They were different personalities of one mental patient. The personalities were being 'killed off' in the patient's head and one of them.....and that's when I lost all interest in this movie. Who gives a shit which personality takes over? Not me.

High Tension: Another ending that not only ruins everything that came before it, but it was physically impossible for it to have happened. A girl spends the night with a friend's family and witnesses them all brutally murdered by a huge, lumbering guy. Could be one of the goriest movies ever made, but it's destroyed when it turns out the girl is really the killer. Holy shit is that a stretch and kind of confuses the fights she had with what we thought was the real killer. This one really needs to be seen to be believed. In fact, I kind of want to watch it again knowing the ending to pick out all the scenes that couldn't actually happen. Then I remembered that would be every single scene and scrapped the idea.

Basic: By far the most confusing ending on the list. Still not sure what happened or what the explanation was, but I do know that all of the characters that died didn't actually die but are part of some elite crime fighting unit. I think. The one thing I can say for certain is that Sam Jackson says 'motherfucker' a lot. Created more questions than it answered by a solid 10 to 1 margin.

The Forgotten: Julianne Moore (who is becoming the queen of crappy endings) is convinced there is a vast conspiracy when she thinks her son has died and nobody else remembers he even existed. Starts off very interesting and unnerving until it's revealed that aliens are behind it all. And not the aliens that mow our lawns, either. The ones that have flying saucers and mind control and somehow find it necessary to steal our kids to see if we can remember them after they're gone. Because Moore does remember her son it ruins the entire plan and all the kids are returned. I wish I was kidding.

That's all I can remember off the top of my head. I'm sure there are more, but if it didn't leave a lasting impression on me then it probably wasn't that bad.

Today's distraction: Interesting article on alternate endings that come with some DVD releases. I must say that often times the 'original ending' (meaning the ending the director wanted to have) is far superior than what's actually released in theaters. Check out the original ending to 'The Descent' if you haven't seen it. Then compare it to the one released in the U.S.

2 comments:

Hammen said...

I actually really, really liked Vanilla Sky.

BeachBum said...

I like it, too, up until the explanation of what was going on. That's what most of these endings had in common - they ruined an otherwise good movie.