Movies that didn't know when to end

Yahoo UK Movies Features
1 February 2013

It's one of the most frustrating aspects of being a movie fan: the act of enjoying a film but being utterly crushed when it doesn't end at the right time.

Modern filmmakers seem compelled to squeeze every single second out their latest epics, whether they have peaked or not. With Steven Spielberg's 'Lincoln' coming in for criticism for its refusal to wind down, we look at the films that refused to acknowledge that enough was enough.


A.I. Artificial Intelligence

How long is it? 146 minutes

Why the ending was too long: As we've already covered with 'Lincoln', Steven Spielberg loves to ladle on the schmaltz, even it means bolting a happy ending onto a movie that doesn't really deserve it. 'Minority Report' and 'War Of The Worlds' both have audience-pleasing final acts where more subdued endings would have worked better, but the worst offender is 'A.I. Artificial Intelligence', which continues for a full half-hour longer than you expect.

When it should have ended: With boybot David trapped at the bottom of the ocean, asking the 'Blue Fairy' if he can be a real boy over and over. Instead, we're treated to an epilogue featuring alien-like Mecha who can read minds, and an ending so sugary it's likely to turn you into a diabetic.

The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King

How long is it? 200 minutes (extended edition)

Why the ending was too long: Peter Jackson really has a problem putting down his toys.  'The Hobbit' and 'King Kong' are both epic bum-numbers, but to watch the extended editions of 'The Lord Of The Rings' trilogy you'd have to put aside over 11 hours. As fantastic as they are, you'd end up looking like Gollum if you managed to sit through them all in one session. 'Return Of The King' is the biggest culprit, however, with six – count 'em, six – endings, with every character getting their chance to say goodbye. To be fair, it's all by the book, and it'd have been even longer had Jackson included the 'Scouring of The Shire' portion of the book.

When it should have ended: Aragorn being crowned King seems like a nice place to leave things, but then we'd still be watching even if the last hour was Frodo alphabetising his record collection.


How long is it?
194 minutes

Why the ending was too long: Just because a film wins 11 Oscars and becomes one of the most successful movies ever made doesn't necessarily make it perfect. In the case of 'Titanic', we'd argue that you could cut at least 30 minutes from the film's already titanic running time and lose nothing: would anyone really miss Old Rose and all her blithering about the Heart Of The Ocean? We love Bill Paxton as much as the next guy, but 'Titanic' would stay afloat as a period piece without his scenes book-ending its maiden voyage.

When it should have ended: An epilogue of Rose in her old age would have been just fine. Maybe we should consider ourselves lucky we didn't have to suffer James Cameron's original ending.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)

How long is it?
158 minutes

Why the ending was too long: David Fincher did a brilliant job in bringing Stieg Larsson's best-selling book to the screen, casting his two leads – Daniel Craig as writer Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara as hacker Lisbeth Salander – perfectly. However, the central murder mystery was so compelling, the movie faltered as soon as the unlikely pair brought the perpetrator to justice – and there was still a huge coda to come

When it should have ended: As soon as Harriet is found, long before Lisbeth defrauds Wennerström and attempts to start a relationship with Blomkvist. The ending's lack of urgency might explain the studio's reluctance to greenlight the next movie in the trilogy.

The Dark Knight Rises

How long is it?
165 minutes

Why the ending was too long: We already knew 'The Dark Knight Rises' was Christopher Nolan's final Batman movie, so we were anticipating a full stop... but what we got was an ellipsis. Fair enough, the passing of the torch to Joseph Gordon-Levitt makes thematic sense (Batman is not a man but a symbol after all), but we could have done without the final scene showing an apparently dead Bruce Wayne enjoying some linguini in a Florence cafe with Anne Hathaway's Catwoman.

When it should have ended: With Alfred looking up in the restaurant and smiling. It'd convey the same sentiment without being explicit, but Christopher Nolan has stated he didn't want to end the movie on an ambiguous note as he'd already pulled that trick with Inception. And hey, you never know how much money Warner Bros might offer him to make 'The Dark Knight Retires'.

Cast Away (2000)

How long is it?
143 minutes

Why the ending was too long: 'Cast Away' is a great high concept movie: man gets trapped on desert island and fights to survive. For the entirety of Robert Zemeckis' survival drama, we're willing Tom Hanks to keep hope alive, so when he fashions together a raft and is finally rescued, the catharsis is complete. Shame the movie doesn't realise this, as we're treated to an extended last act as Hanks returns home to find that – shock horror – the people in his life have moved on. We bet FedEx loved the extra screen time, though.

When it should have ended: With Hanks getting rescued. Perhaps we should count our lucky stars it wasn't as convoluted as 'Lost'.

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