Just Stick with the Original Ending! 5 movies that jacked up the last few minutes
What do you often hear when you think of an adapted movie? The book was better. Oh yes, and the book is almost always better. Why this is, is nothing the film can stop. The stories in novels are generally written that way because the author felt they could be told that way the best. The same goes for graphic novels, musicals, plays and the like. Each author felt that the medium they chose was the best for their work. Changing mediums is always risky.
This article is not about me bitching that adaptations don’t do it right. I know why film adaptations will always be different or, in the college student’s trump card-like excuse, I took a film and literature class. These are the inexcusable changes to endings where it was actually detrimental to the film as a whole, at least in my opinion. Get your geek goggles on, cuz it’s time for a list of five movies (in no particular order) that jacked it up.
Warning: CONTAINS SPOILERS
I Am Legend
The story of I Am Legend is the story of scientist Robert Neville as he fights against zombie/vampires that are turned by a disease. Heralded as a unique take on both fandom’s mythos and a dark look at humanity itself, the book is an excellent and quick read. It has been adapted into three feature films, the most recent of which shares the same name.
As far as movie adaptations goes, it’s pretty good for while, we slowly see a build up, development and plot threads laid throughout (a basic component of writing) leading up to the big reveal at the end. At first, the monsters are viewed simply as that: terrifying monster that will murder and kill anything in their way. As time goes by, we see they are actually clever creatures, capable of building traps, holding meetings and communicating. They also seem to have a form of government with a clearly defined “leader”. There’s also symbolism involving a butterfly laced throughout, linking Neville, his family and the vampires to each other. Then the ending comes and…
Robert Neville blows everything up.
Why it was a stupid change:
Apparently, the studio didn’t like the original’s tone? Test audience didn’t like it? I’m not sure, but the reason it sucks is because it removes the entire point of the original story. The point was that the vampires come and try to rescue a girl that Neville has taken and is experimenting on. The big reveal here is that these are rational creatures on a rescue mission and that he is the monster from their legends. A real “Oh Shit” moment to be sure.
Instead, Neville tosses a grenade and dies as a martyr, essentially trashing every plot thread throughout the movie up to that point. Hooray Hollywood.
Did they fix it?: The original ending is on the DVD release. Watch is as God intended.
The book Rambo is based off of, is called First Blood hence the subtitle of the original film. In it, the character of Rambo is hitchhiking through a lonely Kentucky town, still wearing his Vietnam gear. He is picked up and treated poorly by the sheriffs, shaved beaten and witness to abuse of others who are jailed there. He escapes and hides in the mountains, killing anyone who comes after him in a manhunt, essentially reverting back into his soldier mode as he is pushed to the edge. The book is powerful in its commentary on both the way soldiers returning from the war were treated and how the law often abuses its power, only because it presides over criminals. John Rambo also dies.
This shouldn’t discourage you from reading the book. Rambo is the shit.
The movie sticks to its guns throughout just about everything, from conveying a strong sympathetic view of Rambo and a negative view of the sheriff’s department, right up to the climactic battles in the trees. The only problem? Rambo blows everything up at the end.
Why it was a stupid change:
Not so much a stupid change, I suppose, as it was a sleazy change. After all, if Rambo dies, how would they make cash cow sequels? I am of the opinion that if something is meant to be told in one go, then it should be. It if is meant to have sequels then so be it. I just hated seeing Rambo raped by Hollywood and Stallone for so long.
Did they fix it?: As far as I understand, the uncut ending is on the DVD.
Blade Runner is based off of Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Being a big fan of the man’s work, you know I am a sucker for good sci-fi and this book has it. It’s all about an android bounty hunter named Rick Deckard (damn that is a cool name) who is charged with the task of “retiring” or shutting down six escaped Nexus-6 androids that are capable of showing human emotions. As he tracks them down, Rick asks himself what qualifies being a human and if having emotions gives the androids the right to seek a quality of life.
The movie originally kept the book’s ending, because Ridley Scott is awesome, where the android that Rick is illegally harboring, and falling in love with, will be put into the “sheepless sleep of death”. Basically, it’s something of a bittersweet conclusion, like a lot of science fiction (think District 9). The studio, deciding this was too bleak, changed the ending where it is revealed that she doesn’t have the program to self-terminate and they live happily ever after, thus crushing the entire reason anyone should read or watch the god damned thing.
Did they fix it?: They released the original uncut ending, along with several other cuts of it on a super sexy box set, all for the low, low price of $78.99.
…Just read the damn book.
The book short story:
Smooth Talk is based off of the short story Where are you going, where have you been? by Joyce Carol Oats. In it, a young girl named Connie is obsessed with acting like an adult and hanging out with the older kids and is subsequently stalked, raped and then killed.
The same thing happens, with some embellishments and development to spread the story over two hours. Then we get to the ending and Connie is just raped. I know that sounds terrible, but the original impact of the story is that Connie is dead. It makes the rereading chilling. The first time you read it you don’t even notice the first line which states “Her name was Connie…” By removing her death, the movie has something of a sweet conclusion where, in typical teen movie fashion, Connie is more grown up and accepting of her parents and sister. Way to sugar coat rape, there, guys.
Did they fix it?: Nope. The short story isn’t long. Go read it.
Apocalypse Now is based off of the incredibly famous Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness, where a man named Marlow is sent up the Congo River to retrieve a rogue named Kurtz who has, essentially, stopped doing his job for an ivory transport company. During his journey, Marlow encounters brutal slavery, cannibalism and the death of comrades. Upon reaching Kurtz’s camp, Marlow realizes that the man has become a god of the people there, despite being close to death and gives Marlow the opportunity to take up the mantle.
Instead of the Congo, the movie takes place in Vietnam as Willard is charged with the task of finding Kurtz and killing him. During his journey upriver he comes across soldiers who have lost their minds and are shooting at nothing, innocent civilians gunned down during mass confusion, and a crazed leader who orders soldiers to surf in the middle of a battle.
This all leads to Willard finally finding Kurtz and getting the exact same offer. In the original ending of the film, Willard agrees to it and takes up the mantle as king.
Did they fix it?: Actually yes. They scrapped the ending and instead have Willard killing Kurtz, Kurtz whispers the iconic line “the horror, the horror” and Willard leaves as The End by The Doors plays over the credits. So I guess this is more of a movie that almost jacked up the last few minutes.