Top 5 lackluster endings in big Hollywood movies

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A couple of months ago I named my top 5 Spectacle Endings, well now I shift my focus on 5 movie endings that I thought lacked spectacle and excitement. As I mentioned on my last article, I love big Hollywood event/tentpole films. Yes I know most of them aren’t what you called “great” cinema but hey that’s the goal of these films. They weren’t made to win Oscars or get approval from critics. They were made to entertain the masses and of course earn lots of cash. So when I pay to go see these movies that cost over $100 mil or more, I expect to be entertained and be transported to another world. I also expect to see a huge spectacle to close the feature, yet some didn’t quite accomplish that.

This list contain films I think the studio or filmmakers should’ve done a better job in giving us the big spectacle that we expect to see. Here they are in no particular order:

SPOILER ALERT!
Obviously since we’re talking about movie finales, spoilers should be expected

Clear and Present Danger

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This is probably my second favorite film of the Jack Ryan series and it was my most-anticipated film back in the summer of 1994. I’d just finished reading the book at the time and was super excited to see the film version. Despite some changes that were made from the book, I still thought it’s a solid action thriller. Unfortunately it also has one of the worst-staged action sequences ever filmed.

The film ends with what was supposed to be a big and elaborate action sequence where Ryan, Clark and Chavez (fans of the books knows that this trio shared many adventures together), rescued the soldiers who were being captive by the drug cartel. The shootout sequence was poorly-staged and boring, while I expected to see some really intense and exciting sequence. I couldn’t find the clip online but I assume most people have seen the film and know what I’m talking about. A few years later, the film’s director (Phillip Noyce) admitted that he should’ve done a better job of shooting that scene. He actually wanted it be bigger and more elaborate than the ambush scene in the middle of the film when Ryan and the FBI agents were ambushed by the drug cartel thugs.

The Man with the Golden Gun

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Of course when we talk about action films, a James Bond film must be in the conversation. Roger Moore’s second outing as 007 was considered one of the worst in the franchise, in fact after this film’s poor performance at the box office, United Artists was thinking of dropping the Bond franchise. Thankfully the next one made lots of cash and we still get see Bond on the big screen today. Anyway back to this Bond flick, it hardly have any big action scenes in it. Besides the big car chase in the middle of the film, it didn’t really have any big shootouts or spectacle you’d expect to see in a Bond film. Now I thought the concept of the story was pretty great, Bond goes up against another super assassin, so you’d think we get to see big hand-to-hand combat and shootouts. Well for the film’s climactic battle, we got this scene below:

Pretty weak right?

The Bourne Identity

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I was hesitant to include this one on my list because I thought the sequence was very well-shot but I wanted it to be bigger and see more of it. This scene where Bourne took out some henchmen ended too quick and just felt kind of rushed:

Originally the film was supposed to have a big spectacle the climactic action scene, you can read about it on this post on alternate endings.

Mission: Impossible 3

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My least favorite Mission: Impossible film and it contained probably one of the most boring hand-to-hand combat sequence I’ve ever seen. See the below clip:

The first two films closed out with some crazy action sequences and I expected to see the same for this one. Unfortunately, JJ Abrams decided to give a typical fight scene and a weak shootout. Don’t get me started on a later scene when Ethan’s wife, who’s a nurse with no weapons training whatsoever but somehow was able to take down the main villain, who’s a trained IMF agent. Lame, lame!

Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides

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This 4th Pirates of the Caribean movie was just boring to sit through but I decided to watch the whole film and hoping that it would least have some kind of big spectacle action scene for the ending. Sadly it did not and I wish I could have 2 and half hours of my life back. I thought the scene was unimaginative and well boring, I still couldn’t understand how the film made over a billion dollars at the box office. See the scene below.


Honorable mentions:

World War Z

Since this is a recent film, I assume many people already know about its troubled production and that the entire third act of the film had to be re-shoot. According to some reports and director Marc Forster, the top executives at Paramount felt the original ending was too brutal and didn’t have any closure, so they wanted a lighter ending and have Pitt’s character get reunited with his family. Well I called BS on that, I think the executives realized had they went with that big battle ending, the film would’ve received an R rating and of course it wouldn’t have earn as much as it did at the box office. In an interview with Forster, which you can read here, he felt the original ending was too big and that the audience can’t really relate to Pitt’s character. He prefer the more suspenseful but quiet ending.

Now he could be telling the truth or he’s just basically saying that because the film was a big hit. I mean they spent weeks and millions of dollars on that sequence and If I was the director, I’d be pissed that they didn’t want to use it or even show it to the public. I wonder what he’d say had the film was a box office dud. Personally I didn’t care for that more quiet and suspenseful ending, since the film was set up as action/adventure. I wanted to see a big spectacle battle to close out the film. Hopefully Paramount will release another cut of the film with its original ending and let us the paying audiences decides which version is better.

Django Unchained

Again this is a recent film so I assume most have seen it, so I won’t go deep into the climatic ending. I just felt it was more anti-climatic, I wish Tarantino had closed out the film with a big shootout that he showed earlier in the film. Here’s the clip:

The World Is Not Enough

Yes it’s one of the worst Bond films but there were some cool action sequences in the film, I really enjoyed the opening boat chase and the helicopters attack at the caviar factory. For the film’s finale, I thought we would see some really big and elaborate action sequence, but what we got was a lame shoot-out inside a submarine. That entire sequence was pretty brutal to sit through, I kept thinking to myself, who approved this scene when it’s written? I can only assume it sounded much more exciting in concept but somehow the execution was sloppy and not very creative. I remember I kept yawning when I saw it in theater and wish the film would end already, the scene felt like it went on forever. Sorry I couldn’t find it online but I think most people know what I’m talking about.


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So what do you think folks, do you agree with my choices? Feel free to share your picks for the lackluster ending in big movies.

Question of the Week: What’s your favorite White House movie scene?

OlympusHasFallenPosterI’m set for an advanced screening of the white house actioner Olympus Has Fallen tomorrow. Surely you’ve seen the pretty aggressive promos of that one all over the place. Interestingly enough, the marketing for the movie has been putting the White House itself as the main STAR of the film. I mean there are some posters that feature the actors, but the white house is always featured prominently on there, as if we’d forget what that iconic POTUS house actually looks like! Now, that’s perhaps saying something about the lead actor of the movie, don’t you think?

Anyway, early reviews I’ve read so far have been surprisingly decent. Of course we shall see come Thursday what the actual RT score would be, but right now it’s sitting at 67%. WOW! Though this movie was on my radar, I didn’t even put this one on my most-anticipated list, as you know how I feel about Gerry Butler these days. It’s amusing that many reviewers are saying that it’s the best Die Hard movie of the year, ahah, take that Bruce Willis! I’m not expecting much, but I can’t imagine this one would be worse than A Good Day to Die Hard, besides I think Antoine Fuqua is a pretty decent director.

Anyway, it made me think of memorable movie scenes set in the White House (regardless of whether it’s actually shot on location or on a made-up set). Then I’ll turn it over to you folks to give me YOUR pick of memorable White House scene. It doesn’t have to be action-related, in fact the idea here is to give and take movie recommendations to fellow cinephiles.

So here are three that came to mind right away:

Pardon the quality of the video, but this is an awesome intro scene in X-Men 2, my favorite of the whole X-Men saga.

Terrence Stamp and one of his most iconic Superman lines, “Kneel Before Zod!” I’m curious how Michael Shannon would fare in that role in Man of Steel!

Of course who could forget this one. I’d say it’s perhaps the most iconic scene involving the White House to date, and ID4 is what Roland Emmerich will always be remembered for.

Now, not all of memorable scenes are about an attack of the White House of course. In fact, I always remember this scene from Clear and Present Danger where Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) confronted the President. Too bad the clip cuts out the part when Jack defiantly said, “I’m sorry Mr. President. I don’t dance!”

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Now your turn folks. Give us your favorite movie(s) and/or movie scenes set in the White House.

Musings on Hollywood Relentless Miscasting

I read the other day that Tom Hardy was being considered for lead role in the Jack Ryan spinoff Without Remorse, which prompts me to write this piece.

Filmmakers and studio executives tend to cast the wrong actor/actress for a certain role many times. Some times it works out well, but other times, not so much. For this post, I’m going to start out with my rant about Hollywood miscasting and then ask you, dear readers, some questions about casting.

With the upcoming film Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise, many fans of the books have been complaining about how Cruise looks nothing like the character from the books.

Now I’ve never read any of Reacher’s novels, but apparently he’s 6’5 and weighs well over 200lbs. (per stats on author Lee Child’s website), while Mr. Cruise is merely 5’7 and weights maybe 170lbs.? That’s definitely a miscast, but I’m still looking forward to seeing Jack Reacher this Winter. Why you ask? Well Tom Cruise is my favorite actor and I dug the teaser trailer they showed us a few weeks back.

Another book adaptation that’s coming to the big screen is Without Remorse written by Tom Clancy. I used to read a lot of Clancy’s novels and many of them were very good but my absolute favorite is Without Remorse. The book’s about a character named John Kelly who later became sort of a super spy for the CIA named John Clark; it’s basically a prequel. It tells the story of how Kelly became known as Clark, think of it as a Casino Royale type of story, instead of James Bond, it’s John Clark. His character appeared in two films, first he’s played by William Dafoe in Clear and Present Danger and then later in The Sum of all Fears, which was portrayed by Liev Schreiber. None of the actors captured the true essence of the character.

According to some reports, Paramount Pictures is trying to sign Tom Hardy for the John Kelly/Clark role. Now I like Hardy as an actor but he’s totally wrong for this part. Clark is described as lean and stands about 6’0″ to 6’4″ tall. Hardy on the other hand, is about 5’10” and rather stocky-looking. If Hardy accepts the role then I’m sure he’ll lose some weight and look leaner; but I still don’t believe he fits the character. To me the right actor for the role would be a younger version of Bruce Willis or Clive Owen, these actors are way too old for the role now though; in the book Clark’s in his 30s. The only actor I believe fits the role right now is Michael Fassbender. He’s the right age and of course he looks the part. Back in the mid 1990s, Keanu Reeves was actually cast as Clark and John McTiernan was going to direct. Fortunately the studio that owns the rights to the book went bankrupt and the film never happened. I like McTiernan as the director but Reeves would’ve been a disaster.

This kind of bone-headed decision really tick me off as a fan, I was too young to remember but apparently there was uproar by fans of the comic books when Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Tim Burton’s Batman back in the late 80s. My opinion, this was one of the worst castings ever, I like Burton’s two Batman films but Keaton’s no Bruce Wayne/Batman. In fact, I thought Keaton looked kind of silly when he’s in the Batman suit, with his big head and tiny body, he did not look intimating at all. Another awful casting was Tom Hanks as Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code and Angel and Demons. Hanks a great actor but he’s no Langdon, what a idiotic decision by Ron Howard and Sony Pictures.

Howard again made an awful decision by casting Javier Bardem as Roland in The Dark Tower film adaption of Stephen King’s epic novels. Thankfully the project never took off, Bardem’s a great actor but he would’ve been awful as Roland The Gunslinger. Currently they’re having trouble getting the project green lighted and Russell Crowe is now the front runner for the part of Roland, a better choice but to me the perfect actor to play Roland is Clive Owen. Take a look this drawing of Roland, to me the only actor who fits that photo is Owen. Now I know King said he wrote the part with Clint Eastwood in mind but if you’ve read the 6th book then you know that’s not true, I won’t go into it but I’m still mad about it.

Now here’s my question to you.

Say you’ve written a great script and then you’re lucky enough to have gotten a meeting with executives at one of the big movie studios. They love your script and want to make it into a film. They even agree to let you direct your own script (it’s a dream of mine and many other film maker wannabes out there), so you’re now super excited and can’t wait to get going. But before the executives signed off on the project, they give you a list of actors they want to play the lead. Unfortunately none of the actors fit what you had in mind when you wrote the script. So what would you do? Do you tell the executives that you want a certain actor for the role and risk losing the deal? Or do you suck it up and go with one of the actors they gave you?

I’m going to use myself as an example here, I’m currently finishing up a script and the actor I want to play the lead role is Clive Owen (yes I have a man-crush on Owen), so when I look at the list of actors the executives showed me, Owen isn’t on there. What I would do is tell them I want Clive Owen for this role and not only that, my agent and I have sent the script to his people and that he wants to be in the film for a very cheap price. Of course Owen is not an A-list actor, I think he’s in the C-list category now since he hasn’t starred in any big budgeted films for a while; the studio people will for certain reject him.

So what shall I do? Well it depends, I’ve spent many years writing this script and now I’m finally close to make it into a film; I will have to think hard before agreeing to the deal. Say the list of actors were Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, Leo Di Caprio and Will Smith. If I agree to cast one of these actors, I will have the budget that I need to make the film the way I envisioned. If I keep insist on casting Owen then I’ll probably lose the deal with the studio. I could shop the script around and hope one of the smaller studios would bite but I won’t have the big money to spend and I won’t be able to shoot what I wrote in the script. So in the end, I will cave and go with Mr. Cruise as my lead actor.

– post by Ted S.


So what do you think of studio keep mis-casting roles? And would have cast an actor the studio insisted or do you keep your principal and tell the executives to f-off?

Five Memorable American Movie Presidents

Happy President’s Day!

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In celebration of American presidents in the past 234 years, here are five actors who’ve played the role of U.S. Commander in Chief in the past couple of decades:

Michael Douglas – Andrew Shepherd in The American President (1995)

This movie is full of great scenes between Douglas and his love interest played brilliantly by Annette Benning, but this telephone banter that ends up with the prez asking her out is absolutely endearing. Of course there’s also the rousing speech that’s arguably one of the best movie speeches ever, and one that’s worthy to be in one of my top 20 favorite scenes list.

Morgan Freeman – Tom Beck in Deep Impact (1998)

Cool and collected even in a major crisis. With a regal stature and deep, soothing voice, Mr. Beck is the kind of leader we all wish to have suppose a giant meteor threatens to wipe out the entire humanity. ‘We will prevail. Life will go on,’ he said in the movie, and as implausible and absurd as the circumstances seemed to be, we’re somehow inclined to believe him.

…..

Kevin Kline – William Harrison Mitchell in Dave (1993)

One minute Dave Kovic is just a regular guy who does uncanny impersonation, the next he’s in the same bedroom in the White house with the First Lady (Sigourney Weaver). Kline’s brand of mischievous humor is perfect for this role, and this scene where he sings the entire chorus of Anne in the middle of a traffic stop is a real hoot! Equally memorable in this flix is Frank Langella as Chief of Staff Bob Alexander. A decade and a half later, he scored an Oscar nomination playing a historical president Nixon in Frost/Nixon.

Apparently isn’t the only time he plays the prez, he played the role of the 18th US President Ulysses S. Grant in the Western action-comedy Wild Wild West with Will Smith.

Bill Pullman – Thomas J. Whitmore in Independence Day (1996)

Whitmore’s freedom speech is unabashedly mawkish, sure, but hey, if some giant aliens were about to annihilate the entire earth population, I think one’s allowed to get just a tad sentimental, no?

….….

Donald Moffat – President Bennett in Clear and Present Danger (1994)

The confrontation between President Bennett and an infuriated Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) in the Oval Office remains one of my fave scenes of the movie.
….
The President:
How dare you come in here and lecture me!
Jack Ryan:
How dare *you*, sir!
The President:
How dare you come into this office and bark at me like some little junkyard dog? I am the President of the United States!

….
Of course my favorite line comes from the heroic CIA analyst himself after Bennett’s spiel on who gets punished for ‘Reciprocity’ (from IMDb quotes page): “I’m sorry, Mr. President, I don’t dance.” Bennett’s expression as Ryan walked out is priceless! The 80-year-old Brit has played a US president twice, the other time as historical prez Lyndon B. Johnson in The Right Stuff.


Hmmm, I just realized all of them on this list are from the 90s. It’s pure coincidence really, I guess I can’t really remember one memorable movie prez of the last decade. They all seem to be the daft caricatures: the doofus version Dennis Quaid played in American Dreamz, the sleazeball one in Love, Actually (Billy Bob Thornton), and Tim Robbins in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

Any other movie president(s) stick out to you?