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Warning: Major Edge of Tomorrow Spoilers Ahead
Edge of Tomorrow is one of those movies where the odds seem so hugely stacked against our two heroes, that it would have made sense for one of them to die. And while the point of the movie has Tom Cruise’s Cage expire (over and over and over again), somehow he and Emily Blunt’s Rita manage the unthinkable: Defeating the Mimics, saving mankind, and both living to see another (non-repeating) day.
Edge of Tomorrow is a great action movie, but its resolution feels too neatly tied up in a bow. It’s also unfaithful to its source material: In All You Need Is Kill, the Japanese novel on which the film is based, Rita isn’t so lucky.
We love happy endings as much as the next moviegoer, but there are certain movies we think could have been improved by adding a component of loss and tragedy.
Here are five SPOILER-FILLED examples that come to mind…
1. Tom Cruise’s Son in War of the Worlds (2005)
The Steven Spielberg-directed thriller is another otherwise solid Tom Cruise action movie with an unsatisfyingly upbeat ending. Having survived a perilous journey across a landscape crawling with towering bloodthirsty aliens, Ray (Cruise) and his young daughter (Dakota Fanning) arrive at the Boston home of his ex-wife. Among the familiar faces greeting them — on a quiet tree-lined block seemingly untouched by the invading extraterrestrials — is Ray’s teen son Robbie (Justin Chatwin), whom Ray (and audiences) assumed to have perished after running headlong into an explosion-filled assault. The once estranged pair even shares a prolonged embrace. Millions perish in the invasion, but Cruise’s kin survive? That’s just unfair.
2. Kiefer Sutherland in The Vanishing (1993)
Hollywood has a sad tradition of remaking — and butchering — fine foreign films. Case in point: The 1990 Dutch thriller Spoorloos (aka The Vanishing). In the creepy but brilliant original, a man’s girlfriend is abducted from a highway rest stop — over the next three years he receives taunting letters from her kidnapper. Eventually, he meets up with the man, who tells him the only way to find out what happened to her is to experience her fate for himself. We won’t reveal the ending, but it’s dark and terrifying. In the American version, not only does the protagonist (played by Kiefer Sutherland) survive, but it ends on a gently comic note! More shocking: the utterly pointless remake was directed by George Sluizer — who also directed the original version.
3. Cillian Murphy in 28 Days Later (2002)
There’s a lot to love about Danny Boyle’s game-changing zombie thriller; in fact, many regard it as a modern horror classic. But we think it should have had a different ending — one that was already filmed. The version audiences saw in theaters had Jim (Cillian Murphy), Selena (Naomie Harris) and Hannah (Megan Burns) surviving their ordeal, awaiting rescue in a remote country cottage. Among the three different endings presented on the DVD release is one in which Jim dies in a hospital — the version preferred by Boyle and Days screenwriter Alex Garland. Test audiences rejected this ending as being too much of a downer, but shouldn’t the filmmakers have been allowed to wrap up their own movie the way they saw fit?
4. Margot Kidder in Superman: The Movie (1978)
Okay, this one might make some of you angry. Lois Lane (Margot Kidder), of course, does die in the movie, when her car falls into a crack in the earth during an earthquake. (Or was it due to a panic attack? It’s never really been clear.) Letting Lois die would’ve given Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent/Superman some much-needed edge heading into his later adventures (much like what they’re doing with our favorite web-slinger in The Amazing Spider-Man). But in a head-scratching example of deus ex machina, Superman realizes he can save Lois by going back in time (by, get this, reversing the spin of the earth). Of course, this ultimate power — being able to get cosmic “do over” — rendered pointless any predicament Supes might find himself facing in the future.
5. Any One of Mel Gibson’s Family in Signs (2002)
Like War of the Worlds, Signs was a strong movie with a weak ending – one that for the first time started to turn audiences against M. Night Shyamalan. Even if the writer-director did go overboard with the “Chekhov’s gun” foreshadowing — the glasses of water, the bat, etc. — he might’ve found a more emotionally engaging climax had he been willing to part with one of his main characters. Why not Mel Gibson?
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