2012 has been one hell of a year for plot points you can’t mention in public. Reveal to the wide world that dies in the final act of before getting into a with a rather large and you can expect to get quite seriously up the . Skyfall, Prometheus, The Dark Knight Rises, The Avengers… the big Hollywood blockbusters have been full of them, and below are 10 of the most intriguing. So if your interest has been piqued – and you’ve watched the films or are a glutton for punishment – click on the appropriate film title and join in the discussion…
What not to say: Three things: Judi Dench’s M dies, Naomi Harris’s Eve is also Ms Moneypenny and Ralph Fiennes’s Gareth Mallory is the new M – all huge deals for 007 and his fans.
Over the course of the previous two films (and, in a strange way, through Pierce Brosnan’s tenure too), Dame Judi’s relationship with Bond has grown into a touching sparring match, all bickering banter and smart remarks but with a heavy dollop of genuine affection on the side. Her death, then, marks the end of an era for EON, her seven-film run since 1995’s GoldenEye providing a much-needed reality check for the cocktail-slurping assassin. The way she goes, too – injured in the siege of Skyfall, she dies in Bond’s arms – is fitting for the stepmother/stepson relationship they’d been fostering all these years.
As for Moneypenny, whose surname is awkwardly crowbarred into the final scene, her reveal is more fan-pleasing, marking a neat return to early Bonds that works all the better thanks to the arrival of a new M in the form of Mr. Fiennes just one room away. It’s a shame that Craig didn’t get to throw his trilby on her hat stand – steady now – but perhaps that’s in the offing for Bonds 24 and 25.
Did we see it coming? Big time, but bizarrely that didn’t ruin it. Bond productions are famously (and ironically) leakier than Karl Stromberg’s floating submarine pen, with even the Scottish castle ending given away by the laird who owns it just days after the film was announced. For what it’s worth, Naomi Harris never let the Moneypenny drop, but it wasn’t a big shock when it turned out she’d been lying all along. Mallory, too, was predictable if only because his surname begins with an M.
What not to say: Johnny Depp’s in 21 Jump Street! Johnny Depp’s in 21 Jump Street! Well, for about five minutes, anyway.
Thanks to three hours in the make-up chair and a solitary day of shooting, even the crew didn’t recognise The World’s Most Famous Man until he peeled off his beardy biker disguise and revealed that he too was an undercover cop, returning as an older version of his character in the late ‘80s police procedural on which the movie was based. His sudden appearance is a great moment in Phil “Cloudy With A Chance Of…” Lord and Chris “…Meatballs” Miller’s comedy, but it’s not the best bit – that’s the sight of Channing Tatum jumping headfirst into a cymbal
Did we see it coming? Like Bill Murray in Zombieland, Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder and Keith Richards In Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World's End, this was a meant to be a very hush-hush cameo, but as is the way with Johnny Depp, pretty much everyone at least speculated that he would turn up at some point.
And in much in the same way that no-one was truly shocked when Hugh Jackman rocked up to drop the f bomb in X-Men: First Class, there was a clear connection between Depp and Jump Street – after all, the original show launched his career back in the day – and the part-time drunken pirate has never been afraid of taking the mick out of himself. For proof, rewatch his sketch on The Fast Show and check out his cameo in the otherwise atrocious Adam Sandler comedy, Jack And Jill – he’s the one who’s in Duran Duran and wearing a Justin Bieber T-shirt.
What not to say: Guy Pierce’s role in Prometheus wasn’t just a cameo – Peter Weyland comes back later on in proceedings, just when the plot has started melting into a disturbing dark goo. Oh, and Charlize Theron’s company wonk Meredith Vickers is his daughter.
Weyland wants to harness the Engineers’ technology to help him live forever – so much so that he’s willing to be kept in stasis for years on a scientific voyage into the unknown, even though the only basis for doing so are some ancient scribbles on a few cave walls.
As the god-complex-suffering billionaire egomaniac who founded Weyland Corp – which the world can safely presume will evolve into Weyland-Yutani two centuries later – Guy Pierce played a man at least double his age, all thanks to five hours of make up every morning. You might be wondering why Ridley Scott didn’t cast someone older, and that’s because in an original draft of the script there was a scene with the younger Weyland, but it was eventually cut. Since then, Pearce has said, “We got close to shooting it, and as we got closer, Ridley just started to see it as something that would just be a little distracting, almost. So, yeah, I guess in the end, they could have cast an older actor.” Rumour has it that, had it been an older actor, Scott wanted Ming The Merciless Max Von Sydow for the role.
Did we see it coming? We guessed there’d be something substantial to Pearce’s role – but then again, by the time he turns up for a second time, cane in hand, everything’s gone so doughnut-shaped that nothing could really surprise anybody. The undeniably excellent TED talk viral encouraged educated guessers to wonder what else Scott had planned for the award-winning Australian actor, but no-one outside of the film’s production could have predicted just how Prometheus and Pearce’s character would facehug the shark.
What not to say: As with Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises offers up a triple threat of spoilers: 1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Robin, 2) Marion Cotillard is Talia al Ghul (and not just wealthy businesswoman Miranda Tate) and 3) Bane was her protector in the seemingly inescapable prison that was The Pit. Perhaps there’s a fourth spoiler in the ghostly reappearance Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul, and a fifth in Scarecrow's cameo, but these are nothing compared to the first key three.
Beating the (highlight to reveal) Moneypenny mention for the Clunkiest Reveal Cup (but not Charlize Theron’s “father…” in Prometheus) is the awkward way the information on Detective John Blake’s birth certificate was announced. Sure, Robin is a nice name for a bird or a hirsute comedian, but wasn’t there a slicker way of sneaking that in? Making a reference to Dick Grayson might have been a better, more subtle shout.
As for the Talia / Bane twist, that was handled much more gracefully, with repeat viewings revealing just how obvious-but-not-obvious-at-first-glance it was that Miranda Tate was a bad ‘un, as shown by her sudden appearances out of nowhere and her flock of armed bodyguards.
Did we see it coming? Many suspected that Gordon-Levitt might have some sort of Robin connection, but Bane’s relationship with Talia came pretty much out of the blue. As for Cotillard being Talia, film fans familiar with the comic book character joined the dots pretty easily after paparazzi shots hit the web showing her stepping into a tumbler in surprisingly oriental garb.
What not to say: Jennifer Lawrence’s Katniss Everdeen and Josh Hutcherson’s Peeta Mellark both win The 74th Hunger Games, becoming the first pair of tributes to survive the annual ordeal. On the topic of Hunger Games-related words not to mention in the pub, the phrase “It’s a Battle Royale rip-off, basically” should be banned, if only because it may be the most worn-out, over-familiar, facile comment about one film ever made.
Considering that the movie was set up with a Twilight-style love triangle – though Liam Hemsworth’s Gale Hawthorne makes only the briefest of appearances – it would be a bitter pill for audiences to swallow if one of the lovers snuffed it before the first film's running time was up. In a clever piece of plotting from Suzanne Collins, Katniss and Josh wriggle out of the sudden reversal that two winners wouldn’t be allowed this year after assurances to the contrary by threatening to commit suicide together. With the world’s eyes on the two teenage serial killers, President Coriolanus Snow (Donald Sutherland) is forced to crown both of them winners, and everyone bar the resplendently bearded Seneca Crane (Wes Bentley) goes home to have metaphorical teacakes and lemonade.
Did we see it coming? If you read the book, yes. If you didn’t read the book, not so much. Unless you happened to be watching the film with a friend who had read the book, in which case you’d have had your suspicions from all the knowing looks and “You’ll see...” comments.
What not to say: There will be bears. Lots of bears, in fact: big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. One of the biggest bears is Princess Merida’s mum, Queen Elinor (Emma Thompson), who is turned into a massive grizzly mother after her flame-haired daughter gives her a slice of particularly potent magical cake.
Despite being a huge plot point for the film, director Mark Andrews and his team did their level best to avoid all significant mention of ursine creatures in their publicity, making interviews, posters, trailers and TV adverts reliant on the voice actors’ fame, Pixar’s name and the sheer beauty of Merida’s luscious locks. Queen Elinor’s bear form doesn’t appear anywhere in any of the trailers, making her transformation an effective surprise. Somehow, despite the lack of publicised bears, they pulled it off, with good reviews and even better word of mouth turning the animation studio’s first fairy tale into a sizeable hit, scoring over $500 million internationally on a $185 million budget.
Did we see it coming? If you consider yourself a Pixar nut, almost certainly. Announced as The Bear And The Bow in 2008, anyone with a pair of eyes and a copy of the studio’s press release could reasonably decipher the title’s riddle and safely assume that both bears and bows would be involved at some point. Interestingly, though Merida’s bow is of great import to her as a character (and her ongoing barneys with her mum), it’s nowhere near as key to the story as the bear-based antics seen in the second and third acts.
What not to say: At the very end of The Avengers (or Marvel’s Avengers Assemble, if you happen to be working for Disney UK), there is a credit sting that shows purple-faced smackdown distributor Thanos smiling a menacing smile. Who’s this broccoli-faced golem, you wonder? Well, in the Marvel Universe, he’s kind of a big deal; in fact, he’s one of the biggest big bad’s in Marvel’s big bad back catalogue.
The scene starts with a shot of the deepest part of the cosmos before panning round to a floating rock where the leader of the Avengers’ cannon fodder enemy, the Chitauri, is having a moan at his unseen master: “They were not the cowering wretches we were promised! They stand, and are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court death…”
Then, Thanos smiles. He smiles because he is obsessed with death. His whole purpose in the universe is to suck up to his anthropomorphic vision of Death – called Mistress Death, no less – by killing mortals something chronic with an all-powerful MacGuffin called the Infinity Gauntlet, supposedly hidden somewhere in Odin’s vault. So “courting death” is a joke, because that’s exactly what he’s doing… chatting up Mistress Death. It’s all very amusing, if you happen to know all the facts that would make it amusing.
Did we see it coming? In the world of comic book nerddom, many did. As far back as July 2011, conjectures were conjectured, and the guessers guessed that the dragon-like baddo in the trailer was just one of many and not actually Iron Man villain Fin Fang Foom. Now, Marvel head honcho Kevin Feige has said that Thanos will be involved in the Guardians Of The Galaxy film (due out August 1, 2014) as well as the 2015 Avengers sequel, cementing his position as the intergalactic überevil the Marvel cinematic universe needs.
What not to say: Young Joe Simmons (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) kills himself to stop old Joe Simmons (Bruce Willis) from murdering telekinetic child Cid Harrington (Pierce Gagnon), despite the fact that in the future little Cid may turn into a mafia mastermind called “The Rainmaker”. The lead character kills himself (and in so doing, the other lead character) to ensure the end of/save the world? That’s definitely a spoiler.
How Looper gets to the point where Gordon-Levitt’s incarnation of Simmons decides to blunderbuss himself off this mortal coil is a long and complicated one, so perhaps a casual eavesdropper wouldn’t be too fussed if he or she heard someone trying to untangle Looper’s many plot threads – but there’s no doubt that the less you know about Looper before you see it, the better. That said, even knowing that young Cid is genetically superhuman is a spoiler of a sort, so safest not to mention that either.
Did we see it coming? Not really. Those well versed in time travel shenanigans will know that certain figure of 8s can only be worked out a few ways, and a dual-time character killing himself can be an option, if required. It’s still a great shock when it does happen, however, since the sight of a hero suiciding to 'save the day' remains a cinematic rarity. The quiet moment of desperation comes as the otherwise reasonably low-fi sci-fi suddenly blasts the budget on telekinetic funtimes, flipping cars and flattened fields of crops, making it clear that this is the only way out for Simmons.
What not to say: The Cabin In The Woods isn’t just any old cabin in the woods. It’s not even a traditional horror movie cabin in the woods, complete with a zombie redneck torture family, angry molesting trees and sexy witches: it’s a cabin in the woods with the possibility of zombies, wraiths, mutants, mermen, demons, clowns, scarecrows and a whole lot more – as well as a zombie redneck torture family, angry molesting trees and sexy witches.
But this so-called cabin in the woods is actually a sort of sacrificial altar run by a group of cynical technicians to appease the “Ancient Ones”, apocalypse merchants who live under the facility and agree to not destroy the earth only if certain young people die in a certain order at a certain time. How they get killed is up to their free will – when they head to the cabin's basement, the trinkets they play with dictates who’s going to be murdering them horribly – but this particular group breaks the system when a couple of survivors head into the underground base and cause havoc.
Did we see it coming? With the meta-horror waiting three years to hit cinema screens, anyone desperate to find out more about it probably could, and its viral marketing campaign was clever enough to point people in the right direction without overtly telling the world what was what.
The trouble is that almost the whole film is a spoiler, so with that in mind, anyone trying to get friends to go see the film would be hard-pressed not to let a little bit slip. The trashing of the technical facility section, however, should still have shocked the undercrackers off even the most suspecting audience members.
What not to say: The problem with Twilight author Stephenie Meyer’s finale for Breaking Dawn is that there isn’t one. The Cullens and their allies square off against The Volturi, and despite everyone gagging for a scrap, the would-be warring factions decide to talk it out and make up instead, leaving both loyal fans of the book and certain werewolves rather put out. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 director Bill Condon’s solution was simple: have the big fight anyway, while miraculously staying faithful to the book.
How he gets away with it is ever-so-slightly genius. When pale-faced precog Alice (Ashley Greene) shakes hands with mind-reader Aro (Michael Sheen) as they meet in a snowbound field, the audience (and Aro) see in real time what would happen if they did indeed fight: blood would be spilt, blood would be drunk, and Aro will be horribly killed, along with a decent chunk of his Volturi army.
Realising that trading blows will result in his own ignominious death, Aro decides to give peace a chance, and so filmgoers get the dust up they desired while Twi-hard novel-lovers get the ending they know from the books.
Did we see it coming? To be honest, not really. A solution to the book’s anticlimactic conclusion had been promised for a long while – since before Breaking Yawn Dawn Part 1 – but it was hard to see how they’d pull it off. Once you watch the film, however, the solution feels like it’s been staring us in the face all along: put a mind reader in the same place as a soothsayer-type and suddenly cinematic sparks can fly with no tricky consequences.
To make sure you don't click on a page which reveals something you're not already aware of, here are links to the ten films discussed in the feature, in the order they appear.
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