The Ones That Choked


Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Ed Harris in The Abyss (courtesy 20th Century Fox)

Your team is in the final stretch of the game, and they have been scoring like mad and over-powering the other team. Then all of a sudden, blam, they choke. What are we talking about?

Although it may have sounded like it, we weren't just describing the game you saw last week, but that movie you might have seen that seemed like it was destined for greatness. It was great throughout the first three-quarters for instance, and you thought for sure it was a lock for a bunch of awards. But then towards the end of the movie it "nose-dived and crash and burned", so to speak

There are lots of movies that fit into this type of scenario, but below we will describe just a couple, and let you think of others you might feel are similar.

Remember the 2007 movie No Country For Old Men? That was a really good movie for the most part, and probably could have won more awards than it did, but it suffered from an incoherent and silly ending that was probably not expected or thought of by most of the viewing audience. Now the Coen Brothers (Joel and Ethan, directors and writers) are known for having atypical storylines, but this movie should not have been one of those. Josh Brolin's character was being set-up through the whole movie as a hero with more morals than the other characters in the movie, and a character who has to proceed against a stronger and more deft "enemy", but then surprisingly is killed off only minutes before the credits. Now this may have worked to the movie's advantage, yet it was so suddenly and incoherently introduced that the viewer was left wondering what just happened. One second the two main characters in the movie are in a cat-and-mouse chase, then the next Brolin's character is dead in a motel room after a shoot-out we never see. It is this incoherence that makes us say this movie falls into our category of "a great movie until the final minutes".

Another movie that we feel also deserves this category is James Cameron's 1989 movie, The Abyss. While being a touch long (clocking in at 145 minutes), this movie is spectacular throughout until the final 5 or 10 minutes. With beautiful photography work, exquisite special effects for the time and characters who we either clearly rooted for or conversely hoped would fall flat on their faces. This was true right up to the final minutes where the oil rig is "brought" to the surface by the aliens. Once the rig was on it's way to the surface the movie took a huge turn to the land of poor special effects, over-laden corniness and a healthy dose of crap writing. What do we mean, well check out this line that is said by one of the characters trying to understand how their one minute ascent to the surface did not kill them: "They must have done something to us." Come on James, couldn't you or the writers come up with something better than that?

We'd like to also mention the 2005 movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, it choked too but in a different way. This movie was relatively even-keeled throughout, in that there was no crash and burn at the end, yet another weird problem arose that we'd like to make reference to here; that is, the fact that the special effects throughout the movie were fairly good, including the gorgeous shots of Aslan the lion and other talking animals such as the beavers, yet when it came time for the main human characters to be in front of a green-screen shot against a near-distant background, it seems the budget just took a huge drop. Take for instance the sequence of shots leading up to, and during, the chase across the frozen wasteland. Every time the children were shown with mountains in the near distance, it became only too obvious it was a green-screen shot. Tsk tsk. The CGI and effects departments could have done a much better job than that.

Now it is your turn, can you think of any similar movies you have seen, that crash and burned at the end, due to bad writing, or because of poor special effects? You probably can, and fairly easy at that.

If you are interested, we came across a "Top-ten list" of disappointing blockbusters that crash and burned for one reason or another.   Follow this link to check the list that Time came up with: http://www.time.com

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