clownfoot -> RE: Best white knuckle, edge of your seat, tense ending? Possible SPOILERS (13/11/2012 8:53:34 PM)
Time for a re-post...
It is a truism of the movie world that sport related films nearly always end in a Mighty Ducks styled triumph over-adversity, which is about as realistic as the sun setting over the south China sea in The Green Berets! So when the magnificently evil Big Ern actually triumphs over Roy Munson, the comeback kid with a plastic hand, in the big Reno tenpin bowling tournament, itís an absolute Shakespearian tragic delight. Completely unexpected, yet totally in keeping with the rest of the movie, you begin to wonder why more sports related movies donít follow suit. Kingpin is all sorts of comedy genius, but the ending is surely inspired by the monkey gods themselves.
It is also a truism of the movie world that horror flicks often end with a major cop-out, usually along the lines of the killer isn't really dead, which completely undermines everything that has gone before. Not in Ravenous though. Having eaten most of Captain Boyd's (Guy Pearce) men based at the desolate frontier fort he is stationed, along with forcing Boyd to become a cannibal just like him, Colonel Ives (Robert Carlyle) doesn't expect Boyd to suddenly become brave and exact brutal retribution on him in the knife fight to end all knife fights. With sound effects to make you wince each time a blade cuts deep, both men go hammer and tong in an attempt to stab each other into submission. Fortunately a man-trap intervenes and ensnares both in a superb scene, where, embraced together between the jaws of the trap, Ives chillingly whispers to Boyd "If you die first, I am definitely going to eat you, but the question is, if I die, what are you going to do?" And, quite bizarrely, this is all blended together superbly by a mesmerising plinky-plonky score contributed by one-time Blur front-man Damon Albarn. If I was going to make one of the finest low budget movies of recent years, I'd end it with a man-trap inspired finale. A fitting way to conclude a brilliant mix of cannibalism, gore, sly black humour and redemptive quasi-philosophy!
8. The Matrix
During pre-production the Wachowski Brothers decided that a finale consisting of a rather brief 10 minutes of frantic action was "for pussies" (probably) and rather than wimping out like a couple of big girls blouses (despite one of them liking big girls blouses a little too much) pulled out all the stops to create one of the most perfectly orchestrated, action packed, and serenely beautiful final third ever composed for the screen. Obviously the prior slow build up of characterisation and plotting, along with the magnificent dojo fight which hints at what is to come, continually winds up the intrigue until the pivotal moment where the film just... lets... goÖ
The moment Neo asks for "guns, lots of guns" the film goes into spectacular overdrive. One amazing set-piece after another, from an unbelievable lobby shoot-out, to the obligatory mini-gun set-piece, to a fantastically crafted and composed explosion (featuring a helicopter crashing into a building) and a final subway face-off between Neo and Agent Smith, each beautifully and adoringly composed (bullet-time, a rousing score, seamless CGI, high kicking Kung-Fu, fantastic stunt-work) climaxing in an exquisitely paced race against time... woah! It's quite simply the second greatest final third of exhilarating and adrenaline-pumping action you're ever likely to see.
7. The Wild Bunch
The end of The Wild Bunch is not only up there as one of the greatest endings to a film but is possibly also one of the greatest shoot-outs you're ever likely to see, courtesy of lots of Mexicans unable to dodge the bullets of a Vickers machine gun. In finishing the tale of outlaws out of time and place (industry and technology having replaced the old-West they once knew) Pike's suggestion of "Let's go" to save comrade Angel is merely a reflection that their time is at an end. As the four anti-heroes of the gang tool-up and go for a lengthy stroll along the village to the camp leaders holding Angel (exquisitely paced) we all know they are about to go out in a blaze of glory. But what a blaze of glory! One swift cut of Angel's neck, what seems like an eternity of silence and then... BANG! Pike, Dutch, Lyle and Tector all get a turn on the machine gun, blowing away Mexicans like there's no tomorrow, while being gunned down in a hail of bullets and full blooded claret themselves. Outstanding! No one does a good full-scale bloodbath, with poignancy, like Peckinpah.
Glory has, without a doubt, a rather rousing last five minutes or so. First, courageous Colonel Shaw (Matthew Broderick) gets shot leading his men on a charge up the banks of Fort Wagner. Denzil then picks up the division's flag in open ground and, subsequently, also gets shot. You should be a little teary by now. If not, then the emotional "rrrragggghhhh's" from the rest of the 54th (the first black regiment in the American Civil War) as they charge up the banks of the Fort should have you blubbing and punching the air with joy at the same time. And by gosh, the music kicks in and the 54th look to be kicking an unbelievable amount of arse, as more characters we've come to love get stabbed in the back by a bayonet or kicked inappropriately in the bollocks. It looks like Morgan Freeman and Cary Ewles are going to lead the troops to victory with the music building to an almighty crescendo. Brilliant - but, alas, no! They all get blown to bits by a big sodding canon. And no matter how many times you shout "duck you fools" as they turn the corner, not once does it happen. With the exhilarating finale played out, a final scene of Broderick and Denzil being chucked into a grave in solidarity provides a pitch-perfect closing denouement to what we've just seen. And now we can breath again. Marvellous stuff.
5. Star Wars
"All wings report in." "Lock S-foils into position." "Look at the size of that thing." "Cover me Porkins." What more needs to be said about the attack on the Death Star and the culminating Trench Run bombing that hasn't already been said? Take the template for The Dam Busters, add X-Wing and Tie-Fighters to the mix, some superb model work that to this day needs no air-brushing, fantastically tense action sequences and one stand out shot (each time the fighters begin their trench run and the swooping camera that swoops down into the trench) and you've pretty much got a finale that very, very little can beat. And people say that Lord of the Rings is the better trilogy - fools!
4. The Last of the Mohicans
Has there ever been a finer musical score to accompany the action on screen as at the end of The Last of the Mohicans? No, there hasn't. You can't help but tap your fingers away before the heart-breaking tragedy that plays out in a wonderful last minute chase sequence to rescue Jodhi May. Indeed, it's mostly great stuff because the named star of the film, Daniel Day Lewis, actually takes a back seat in events, other than shooting Steve Waddington to stop him squealing like a piggy thus avoiding fiery death by, erm, fire. Instead the chase up a beautifully filmed gorge (with that great score still playing) is mostly undertaken by Chingachgook and Uncas and, like Glory previously, the additional leverage of tragedy immortalises the end sequence (well after the score, of course). First Uncas is felled by the evil Magua and sent to his doom in the treetops below. Eyes welling up, as seriously, it shouldn't be playing out like this, Jodhi then decides to take a flying leap after her loved one, despite only knowing him for roughly ten minutes. Cue, Madaline Stowe howling like a banshee and there's unlikely to be a dry eye in the room. So how do you top this? With hardcore, kick arse vengeance! Chingachgook and Hawkeye continue after Magua and company, until Chingachgook unleashes all hell on Magua with a blade you've been waiting to see him use for the wholeÖ fuckingÖ film. Kick arse! And then he goes and tells us with his son dead, he's the last of the Mohicans!! Bloody hell, someone pass me a tissue - I'm balling my eyes out here. Easily Michael Mann's finest moment. By the way did I mention the rousing score?
3. Blade Runner
Rutger Hauer supposedly came up with parts of the closing monologue for Roy Batty himself. Not bad for someone who's also appeared in PPM classics like Salute of the Jugger and Wedlock (stop sniggering at the back), especially when said monologue is absolute perfection within the context of the film. Having lost the fight to increase the longevity of his four year life-span, Batty saves his Blade Runner pursuer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) from falling to his death before musing, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die." In one fell swoop, Batty explains the experience of what it means to be human; making him more than the mere replicant he was hunted down for being and questioning Deckard's own often remote humanity whilst slaying those that simply want to live for a while longer. And, as we all know, it opens a whole can of worms regarding Deckard - is he or isn't he human? Masterful story-telling and a compelling conclusion that you can talk about down the pub for hours after. No wonder Blade Runner is heralded as the greatest sci-fi film of all time.
2. The Thing
After all that has previously occurred in The Thing, including two or three stand out scenes as the titular beastie reveals itself in a stunning metamorphosis of blood drenched gore, it was always going to need something extra special from John Carpenter to raise the finale above the genius that has already transpired. But in Kurt Russell (most underrated actor ever?), Ennio Morricone's now classic score and a final unintended shot (from the angle of the shot you can't see Child's icy breath, which some take to imply as Child's being the Thing) that has kept film-nuts in frantic conversation about the films conclusion since its release, its not likely he would fail. Yet despite these key features that enhance the end scene, itís really Carpenter himself we should be thankful to. Deciding to make the ending understated was something of a masterstroke, the essential antithesis to the rest of the film considering the gore-soaked anarchy already witnessed. So, having Childs and MacReady sitting in the middle of the slowly burning camp, drinking to their survival before the cold desolate waste of the Antarctic claims them, with either one of them still possibly the Thing is a wonderfully solemn and fitting conclusion. That it ends with the finest closing line to any movie ever, just adds to the overall effect. "Why don't we just wait here for a little while... see what happens..."
And my take on the ending? Neither Childs nor MacReady are the Thing. But does anyone see the beast get to Nauls? No, you donítÖ
"How can they turn off the lights, they're animals man!" whinges Kringer (erm, Hudson) to the remainder of the decimated marine platoon as everyone's favourite xenomorphs conveniently switch the lights off for the evening's disco. However, with the aid of probably the most tension building piece of equipment ever devised for cinema - the motion tracker - Hudson curiously turns into Battle Cat and goes at it with any Alien stupid enough to get within five foot of him (apart from the sneaky git under the floor-boards) blowing them into sticky paste with the mighty pulse rifle (best sounding weapon in a film... ever). And with such a sequence we have the beginning of the mad rush to get to the drop-ship Bishop is bringing down from the Sulaco on remote - a final third that can only really be rivalled by The Matrix.
In many ways the constant remainder of "17 minutes to ETA" and "in 20 minutes will see a nuclear explosion the size of some rather big place" simply fuels the adrenaline paced fury that follows. Again there's hardly any let up (as first the marines run away from Aliens in the Comms room, only to be followed through the claustrophobic air-ducts, where Gorman gets brave, Vasquez beats the crap out of an Alien one-on-one and Hicks gets splashed with Acid, before Newt acts like a spanner and needs saving from Ripley in the Alien hive. A rather large and well-developed reveal occurs when we find out what's laying the eggs, before another swift course of legging it to the drop ship and safety. No chance! After an exhaustive 40 odd minutes of non-stop tension building, barnstorming action sequences and a bombarding James Horner score, the film comes to a rousing conclusion with one of the best jumps in any film, ever, the final battle of the Mothers and the film's most famous line - "get away from her you bitch"! Can you think of anything better? No, you sodding well can't!