Every once in a while you come across an article that speaks to you with such depth of truth that it touches your very soul, presenting an argument that uncannily reflects your innermost convictions with such dead-on clarity you’d swear it had been written by your doppelganger.  Friends, this morning, I stumbled across just such an article.  I present to you Eric Meline’s Top 10 Worst Twist Endings: http://www.scene-stealers.com/top-10/erics-top-10-worst-twist-endings/.  All those moronic third act turns and late WTF twists I’ve bitterly complained about over the years – on this blog, at work, at family reunions, while getting directions from complete strangers.   Those lame astonishingly imbecilic “surprises” so devoid of reason it makes you angry because you know that, above all else, it’s proof positive that the filmmaker had absolutely no respect for your intelligence.  Yes, they’re all here!  Ape Lincoln!  Saw’s completely pointless end reveal!  An alien race with a vulnerability to water that chooses to invade a planet whose surface is 70% water!  Even though the article is about a year old, it’s truly timeless.

No work on the script today.  Instead, I made roast chicken with truffle butter and citrus breadcrumbs (Thank you, Mr. Ramsay) afterwhich my wife (yes, she survived last night’s expedition) and I headed downtown with the Frenchies.  Lulu is terribly out of shape.  After eight blocks, she was panting and wheezing so we turned around and I ended up having to carry her back.  In retrospect, I think she may have been faking it.

Dentist Day tomorrow for both me and Jelly.  At least she’ll be asleep through most of HER visit.   

Today’s Destiny pics: Bells and Whistles!











Green screen view through a ship window.
Green screen view through a ship window.

70 thoughts on “July 19, 2009: Bells and Whistles!

  1. I am pleased to report that I have only seen one of those movies: “The Village” and now I can skip all the others! More time to read!

  2. I’ve only seen 3 of those films, so thanks for the heads up to not waste hours of my life I’ll never get back on the rest of them.

    Recently, during a local TV Cop Drama promo, the announcer said in his best dramatic voice, “And an ending, you won’t beliiiiieeeeeve.”. I don’t want an ending I won’t believe. I want a completely believable ending. Otherwise I’m going to be yelling “WTF?!” at the TV while gesturing wildly with my arms.

    Glad to hear Fondy made it home. Seems no one can stay on the beaten track of late in Australia. Starting to get suspicious they’re doing it for the money they’ll make from interviews. I mean, what kind of dimwit comes to a foreign country that’s known for it’s deadly flora and fauna, decides to take a hike after eating 5 pizzas (I’m thinking munchies were involved here) not take a mobile, not take a GPS and no provisions? I wonder if at some point nature saw this guy traipsing through the forest, shrugged her shoulders and thought, “Meh. Natural selection.”

  3. Hello jo!!

    Interessant this picture. The 7th picture look like an Ancient trash XD.
    I want a picture of the external design of the ship and gate on a planet

    And my questions? when i will have an answer?


  4. Glad to hear Fondy’s okay! 🙂

    Of course, we only have YOUR word for it. For all we know, you buried her in Panama and are charging up San Juan Hill, even now!

    (Let’s see how many get THAT reference…)

    As for bad movie ending twists, the only two on that list that I’ve seen – Signs, The Village – entertained me quite nicely, with no complaints. Hell, there endings were a heck of a lot better than some Atlantis endings I could mention…

    …but I won’t. 😉

    Sad to say, I’m not all that interested in Destiny sets. ( DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME!! ). 😛 Until I actually see the show, the sets mean nothing to me…just…stuff. I need to see them in relation to the personality of the crew, the atmosphere of the show, and as part of the story itself. I certainly look forward to the show, and can’t wait to discover the ship then…it’ll mean a lot more to me, I think.

    Well…I hope. Still not sure if I’ll be sold on the show…not enough long hair for me… 😉


  5. Wow that window looks weird, how you supposed to see through that???? Oh and sorry about leaving like 10 comments.. thanks for taking care of that!!!

    Lol, funny about the story twists, though I’ve heard some conplaints from other people regarding the same story lines!!

    Thanks so much,
    Major D. Davis

  6. *Their…THEIR endings…

    I really must learn to proofread after speed-typing. 😛


  7. @ Narelle – I must be weird. See…when I’m watching fiction, I WANT endings I ‘won’t believe’…that – to me – is the point of FICTION. Anymore, reality tv has unrealistic endings, while fictional stories strive for realism. I don’t want reality in my fiction – I want my fiction to distract me from reality, not remind me of it. So, crazy twists never bother me…in fact, the crazier, the better for me!


  8. I think the point is that whether realistic or non-realistic, it must be true to the movie. Of course a fanstasy film will have fantastic elements at its core and in its final scenes, but there’s a difference between “fantastic” and “ridiculous”. And, occasionally, “stupid”.

  9. Other question joe.
    Why you don’t open a chat on your blog? It woulb be funny Xd

  10. Das – I’m thinking more along the lines of endings where the pet chicken turns out to be the hero because of its psychic connection to Aunt Matilda who then hops on a jet ski and rides to the island the villain has the protagonist held, even though she’s been in a wheelchair since a horrible trampling when visiting Pamplona during her youth, when you haven’t even seen the chicken for the entire movie and no seed has been planted that it is psychically linked to Aunt Matilda and no explanation is made as to her suddenly restored mobility… or something like that.

  11. Heya Joe,
    Glad I only “wasted time and money” on one of the list.
    Signs was a bit goofy and had its scare moments but, the highlight of that movie was the pointy tin foil hats! That was hilarious. And because I am not fond of scarey (certified wussss)…most of the movie is a blur except for the uncle and the kids sitting on the couch with their tin foil hats.

    Thank you for the udate on Fondy’s whereabouts; glad to hear she is back safe and sound. Would have suggested she take one of the “guard dogs” on her next expedition until you mentioned Lulu being out of shape. That would not help ensuring safety…well, except that it might have resulted in Fondy having to return to civilization sooner.

    And, THANKS for more of the COOL pix. Please sir, may we have more!

  12. Hey. I LIKE stupid. I mean, I like you, don’t I?? 😀

    (Sorry, I saw the opening, and I took it! )


  13. I have seen exactly NONE of those movies! I don’t know whether that speaks more to my excellent taste in movies or the fact that I don’t like to spend $10.00 to see a movie that I’ll be able to buy in Wal-Mart for $5.00 three or four years down the road.

    Some of those pictures look like computer simulations. Are you sure those are pictures of the sets? If so, super-duper congrats to the design and construction teams, because it looks unreal and out-of-this-world!!!

  14. I don’t know–it’s not only twist endings that can be completely asinine. Tonight’s METEOR relied on a whole four hours of unconvincing coincidences to make the story unfold…

    Really, it’s all very well making things desperate and dire for characters, but when every single thing they attempt goes horribly horribly wrong, it does slightly stretch credulity.

  15. Joe, in all seriousness…

    I understand what you are saying, however…

    Isn’t it all in the eye of the beholder? What works for one person isn’t going to work for the other. I liked Transformers, for instance, despite many criticisms about the film. And ya know what? I’m not ashamed to admit it, as if doing so might make me look foolish or soft in the head. No – I’ve never felt pressured to poo-poo a movie just because it’s the cool thing to do.

    So…about those endings. I’ve noticed that those who are displeased with a movie’s ending are usually the most vocal, and usually in the minority (which I’m sure you are well-aware of with all my lone bellyaching about the treatment of the Wraith). I’ve also noticed that most ‘belly-aching’ comes from male viewers over films that are aimed at that exact group. I have a theory about this…

    Now…bear with me.


    I like rugby, you know that. Well, just about every American male I show it to can’t get their heads around the game – they all say the same thing: ‘There is no strategy!’ This is their main complaint based on what they know of American football, a game full of ‘strategy’. Of course, rugby has its own strategy, but it’s not as obvious – it’s not as easy to predict. It seems that most men (American or otherwise) like games they can predict. They also like games that play by their rules.

    So, how does this translate into movies? Well, being on the Bendis forum – which is mostly frequented by guys – I’ve noticed a similar pattern. If a movie (or a comic book) takes a turn they didn’t predict – or one that doesn’t play by their rules (an illegal tactic, as it were) – the fanboys are enraged! “That’s stupid!” “That doesn’t make sense!” “That’s lame!” “That sucks!” Oh, the whine list goes on and on.

    Meanwhile, I’m sitting there thinking, ‘well…THAT was different. Let’s see how this plays out…’

    It just seems to me that people get mad when the twist isn’t what they expected, or worse – it is what they expected, but not how they wanted it to be played out.

    Of course, you know that I don’t always just ‘accept’ a movie’s ending. More than once I was angered by the way Atlantis played out, but that was because of its over-predictability! See a Wraith, you know he’s dead by show’s end. Heroes will always pat themselves on the back, no matter how morally corrupt they were. Wraith will always be wrong, no matter what. The lack of fantastic twists – even stupid and ridiculous twists – hurt many an episode for me. Everything was played too safe, and that just doesn’t work for this rugby-lovin’ gal who’s used to those impossible plays right at the end of the game.

    So, perhaps that’s why some of us enjoy those ‘stupid’ twists – because, to us – they AREN’T stupid…but thrilling and satisfying…just the thing that makes the movie work for us.


  16. That movie list should be a lot longer than ten. I didnt think the Village was all that bad, though the ending was fairly easy to predict. Signs made me waver between laughing and groaning, and the only reason I own a copy of the movie is that it was included in a set. I’d throw the Matrix in as a worst ending candidate. After a lot of great special effects and interesting premises, we discover that humans are a source of ENERGY??? WTF? I was so offended at how the movie insulted my high school level of physics knowledge I’ve yet to see the rest of the trilogy. For a more recent example I merely point out the latest Star Trek movie. Movies about characters is great, (even if they made Kirk a snotty nosed brat who should be cleaning latrines on Pluto). but come on. At least be internally consistant in what you show. So, what is everyone else’s favorite/worst stupid moment or reveal in a movie?
    So, after the dentist does Lulu go on a training program? It might be a good idea so that she can outlast Brie’s assaults and encourage the rest of the gang to not back the youngster. Otherwise, it looks like you’ll be adding a form of weight training to your own exercise regimen.

  17. @ Das – no need to point out your spelling errors. My brain takes care of a lot of the errors it sees and I read what you meant, never noticing. Now Major D. Davis on the other hand…..did you get that dictionary yet? (Just kidding ya, kid!)

    Das is right. Any long-haired males on this Universe show? Make Lou grow his hair long again. He’s cute with long hair.

    Speaking of Jason Momoa, Joe please tell him “thank you” for doing the Broken Ties commentary with you. Joe, did you have to do much “editing” of what he said? (haha) Sounded like you two had a good time and his perspective adds so much insight. I love his voice! He is pretty funny. I am glad you got him to do one before the series ended. I wish the other actors would have stepped up and volunteered too on this final DVD set. Thanks Jason!

    I love for movies to have a surprise twist ending, especially when I don’t see it coming at all. I don’t want to think a twist is coming and end up playing detective during the entire movie trying to figure what it is. In The Sixth Sense, I didn’t see that coming. In The Others with Nicole Kiddman, I didn’t see that coming. I must admit The Village, while I really like this movie, the ending was disappointing. Made them all look like dorks out there playing dress-up. It just didn’t make sense. But it didn’t stop me from watching the movie several times.

    Hope I didn’t make any spelling errors!

  18. Hey Das,

    Again, there is a difference between unexpected and silly. The ending to The Sixth Sense or The Others was unexpected and worked well. The ending to Planet of the Apes was silly. What you’re interpreting as guys disliking an ending because “they didn’t expect it” is probably guys disliking an ending “because it comes out of left field, completely contrived, or a nonsensical twist for the mere sake having a twist”. Again, I’m not arguing the merits of a type of movie (ie. Transformers), I’m merely arguing for consistency within the framework of said movie.


    There is nothing that drives me crazier than coincidences, conveniences, and contrivances in a script or story. That said, if they work AGAINST the hero, they’re acceptable in that they create obstacles for our protagonist (and writer) to cleverly overcome. When they HELP the hero, then that’s just plain lazy writing.

  19. Shyamalan’s movies will be criticized for their endings as long as he’s making movies. That’s because Sixth Sense’s ending was truly great and people will always look more closely at his endings. Other movies can get by with at least satisfying endings, but he’s stuck having to swing for the fences every time because he’ll only get credit for a home run at this point. If you’re not going to get credit for a base hit, swing away. (quoting Signs not intended, but ain’t it cute, anyway?)

    Is there a list of top 10 twist endings or at least top 10 revelations? I’d nominate Sixth Sense and The Ring. I hated The Ring until the very end, where I had to race back through the movie to reassess everything based on the revelation.

    When you have to race back and reassess, that’s a good revelation (“Luke, I’m your father.”) Obvious twists rob you of the need for that since you’ve already done the work. Twists that don’t make sense rob you of it, too, since you’d have to fill in the holes yourself before reassessing would be worth it.

    I just watched The Return, Part 2 today and I thought that was a good reveal. Interestingly, it holds your hand through the reassessing part – I haven’t seen that much. I believe it meets the definition of a structuref–k, BTW (that term has neutral connotations AFAIK – it’s praise for Martin Gero in this context since he did it well).

    It’s funny how you can have a bad movie that is made good by the ending (The Ring) or a good movie (Harry Potter 6) that is made bad by the ending.

  20. “…if they work AGAINST the hero, they’re acceptable …When they HELP the hero, then that’s just plain lazy writing.”

    That’s worth writing on my monitor with a Sharpie.

  21. Joe,

    I just spent about an hour and a half going through the other Top 10 lists on the site you linked to. One that really caught my attention was the Top 10 Most Unnerving Movie Scenes. I’d only seen one of the movies on the list but personally, I could add at least two more.

    In the Deer Hunter, the Russian roulette scene steered me away from ever watching that movie again. It was so intense and realistic.

    Same with the brutal attack of Charles Bronson’s wife and daughter in the original Death Wish. I’ll never forget it.

    Come to think of it, Ned Beatty’s assault in Deliverance pretty much scarred me, too. I could only watch each of these movies once and they all haunted me for a time after.

    Thanks for the great link.



  22. Gee, thanks! I needed yet another time-waster – just spent WAY too much time on the scene-stealer site…

    The Village was way the worst one from that list, I think – the big “twist” comes what, 2/3 of the way through and you sit there going WTF and ‘how stupid are these folks’ for the rest of it.

    One question, Joe: your wife’s name is really unusual, is Fondy a nickname or short for something?

    LOVE all the Destiny pics, any chance of getting an exterior design?

  23. Ponytail wrote:

    no need to point out your spelling errors

    I’d fill up Joe’s comments section just highlighting where I’ve incorrectly used commas.

  24. the Destiny continues to impress me…and still reminds me of Moya in Farscape…

    OMGOMOMG…just read the news…they are adapting “Game of Thrones” into an HBO series…Sean Bean is gonna play the lead!!! Guess I’ll have to finally get around to reading them…goes in front of the camera in October in Ireland…

  25. Boy, Joe…awful chatty tonight…

    *REALLY wonders if Fondy’s in the Panama canal now…* 😉

    Well, like I said – I only saw two of those movies on the list – Signs and The Village – and I liked the twists…they didn’t bug me, nor did I think they were silly. I didn’t think they were from left field…in fact, I found them to be more symbolic than anything – symbolism that kept within the framework of the movie. I liked ’em!

    So…does that make me moronic in some way? Does that make me less intelligent than the person who was bothered by the contrivance? What if people just like the silly twist? Is that wrong?

    Of course, you may be more sensitive about it since it’s your business to write stories. It might be something you look for, something that drives you nuts because you see through the gimic. Me? Not the same, really…but I can’t watch movies about Native Americans because they usually get everything wrong…well, except Little Big Man, which was pure class, and Smoke Signals, which anyone blinded by New Age Indian mysticism should be forced to watch. But do NOT get me started on Dances With Wolves, otherwise known by me as ‘Oh, look! Indians have sex just like normal people!’ *rolls eyes* I was expecting SO much more from that movie, based on the hype…only to be greatly disappointed. Even A Man Called Horse was better than that (not the sequel, however).

    So…maybe much of it is based on what we individually want from a movie – you want consistency in story, and I just don’t want the characters or facts screwed up.

    God, I’m rambling…not even sure what I’m talking about…oh, except for THIS!!! *pounce!*

    “That said, if they work AGAINST the hero, they’re acceptable in that they create obstacles for our protagonist (and writer) to cleverly overcome. When they HELP the hero, then that’s just plain lazy writing.”

    Uh…like Wraith never guarding their ships, despite their vast numbers? And…like Wraith not killing an Atlantean on sight by now? And…like Wraith never, ever taking evasive action…ever? And…like Wraith not knowing by now that if one hive ship blows up in close proximity to another, they will both blow up? And…like super easy-to-kill Wraith? And, like…

    Should I go on?? 😉

    @ Ponytail, et al – I usually only worry about it when – in my rush – I mix up similar words (their/there; its/it’s; your/you’re; to/two/too…etc)…mainly because I’ve seen so many people scolded by grammar-nazis for it on-line. I just feel so stupid when I do it, to…I mean, too. 😉


  26. You know what bothered me most about the Planet of the Apes remake? Horses. Okay, there’s this space station. There’s humans. There’s apes. I get it. And there’s horses. Huh? Zero gravity dressage? I don’t get the horses.

    As pointed out in Goats, horses are the universal constant. There’s horses everywhere apparently. Alien world horses, alternate universe horses, dream horses. Yep, where humans go, there are horses. And here I thought it was rats.

  27. Oohh some interesting Bells and Whistles. That’s going to start some more speculation…

    I prefer endings that I’ll believe, but won’t anticipate ten minutes earlier. I’ve become a bit too good at anticipating plot twists.

  28. I’ve probably only seen maybe half of the movies.

    There really aren’t too many films that truly…what I call “flip” you in the end, giving you something great that you weren’t expecting.

    Those listed in the article were clearly endings that didn’t make sense. Get me up for a downer…invest the time to be disappointed in the end. I always think the writer wasn’t clear on the ending to begin with. Easy outs to finish a script.

    Great article. Thanks for sharing.

  29. Coucou Joseph!

    Vous allez bien? Merci encore pour ces belle de photo de sgu que vous partagez avec nous..

    Vous avez du passée une bonne journée, surement un peu plus reposante. Des frenchies? Vous parlez français avec eux?

    J’espere que Lulu va aller mieux!!!!

    Bisou Bisou
    A bientôt

  30. Thanks for the link to that article, I’m really enjoying the discussion that’s come out of it so far.

    Das I agree with you on your point about twists/endings being in the “eye of the beholder”, because if it is justifiable to the viewer then it’s usually a good ending. The surprise (the justifiable one) is a huge bonus.

    I love movies (and books, television shows etc) that leave me talking about them for ages, or referring back to them etc, and a lot of the time that’s because of twists. I do agree, however, that some of them are a bit too convenient, or bizarre for my liking. Those are the ones I can’t justify or consider cop-outs.

    The Village is definitely one where I hated the twist, and also Hide and Seek. With the latter it was mainly because through the movie I kept thinking “it really seems to be her dad, I hope that’s a herring”. But it wasn’t.

    Back to the “eye of the beholder” thing though, it really does depend on the person I think. Take Saw, for example. I liked the twist, because right from the start I was thinking “WTF is that body doing there anyway”, and I thought there were enough hints to make it work. Plus I assume (possibly wrongly) that some serial killers would be like pyromaniacs and get some enjoyment out of seeing their havoc play out. But I can get why some people wouldn’t like it, so maybe it is an “eye of the beholder” thing in many cases.


  31. The set it shaping up really well… Kind of reminds me of the Farscape set.

    I can’t wait till the premier! How will we sleep the night before!!

  32. HI again Mr M!

    Agree re: the endings issue. I find it frustrating when a crap ending spoils a realtively good movie.

    *Spoiler for Camp Concentration*

    Speaking of endings, I just finished Camp Concentration. Wow, a great read. Very thought provoking. It had me reaching for reference books I hadn’t looked at in years (with regard to poetry). Also, a bit trippy-1960’s ish in places. (Very Philip K Dick / Vonnegut “Slaugher House 5”). Also, the ultimate reveal for Haas / Morcedai, reminded me of Scalzi’s Old Man’s War trilogy.

    *Spoiler for Camp Concentration*

    I know that Ditsch wrote this in the 70’s and it is a broad comment on Vietnam etc. but I have many questions, of which I will ask one? Do you feel that there was a morality-loss at the end by all the inmates for deliberately letting Palladine out into the public? Had they become no better than the war-monger government? Or have I completely lost the point? I would be interested in your thoughts on this or any of the gang here!

    Best to all


    ……..He’s back and he’s tanned as hell…….

  33. The worst twist ending for me has to be the Nicholas Cage’s movie “KNOWING”. I was so pissed off that they could take what I thought was such a cool story and just cut it off at the knees. Nick’s goes thru hell to try and save the whole world only to find out it was pointless to even try. Why give this one kid these visions of things to come if there wasn’t anything that could be done to prevent them?

    There is some sort attempt to show the struggle between faith and reason but that gets squashed early on. Then it only gets worse because at the last minute FOUR ALIENS show up, not save earth but to take away all the children to a paradise planet. ARGGGHHHH!!!

    Maybe I should have known better but that movie pissed me off for days.

  34. I thought I was the only one who hated the end of ‘Saw’. Everyone I talked to were all like, “This movie is pure genius! You’ll never see the twist coming!” and I said, “Of course not, because it makes no sense whatsoever.” And then they’d call me a hater and dismiss my opinion altogether. Now I feel vindicated.

  35. Joe-

    Thanks for referencing my article on twist endings. I’m glad my frustrations echoed yours! It’s hard to explain to people sometimes that if your script hasn’t been telling the audience the whole time what that twist is–then it’s not a successful twist. I loved Narelle’s comment about the promo. I just saw a movie trialer on TV last night touting “an ending you WON’T believe” too. Ugh. Cheers!

  36. Hey Joe, I know it is off the subject, but this is serious. First thing I read on AOL this morning, ” Wild fires out of control in Western Canada”. How close are you to these fires? And are they “STILL” out of control? Your “people” worry about you and Fondy. Please give us a heads up and lay our fears to rest. The article did say Vancouver!! Could this affect shooting at any of the studios there? Let us know , Sheryl

  37. Yes, I know the ending of “Signs” didn’t make sense but it was so entertaining! They did a great job with the casting. A good cast can make the movie. I’m used to liking movies/TV shows that everyone else seems to hate.

    I agree with DAS on this point: “Isn’t it all in the eye of the beholder? What works for one person isn’t going to work for the other. ”

    Mr. M, your point: “I’m merely arguing for consistency within the framework of said movie. ” I’ll agree with that point. BUT with sci-fi or fantasy, you have to suspend reality for a bit.

    Poor Lulu! Brachiocephalic dogs (they are cute) don’t do well exercising, especially in the summer. You need a dog with a “real” nose to take long walks with 😀 . Have you thought about getting her a stroller?

    Have fun at the dentist! 😀


  38. Eric Melin wrote: “…if your script hasn’t been telling the audience the whole time what that twist is…”

    Then it’s not a twist!! It’s an expectation! (I bet you like American Football, too… ) 😉

    Okay – I do know what you’re saying, but I respectfully disagree. Why? Because I hate formulas. There should be no set ‘rules’ in storytelling – this is something that bugs the hell out of me.

    For instance, I recently read an article where a writer stated the rules of storytelling (rules to make the author disappear). He said a character should not be physically described in detail. Bugger that!! I WANT detail – NEED detail – by George, I want to know every pimple on the character’s backside! Detail makes the characters real to me, and THAT makes the author disappear. If there is no detail, then I’m sitting there, thinking, ‘why didn’t the writer describe this person? I want to know what they look like!’

    I read to be told a story – NOT to have to make the story up myself! I don’t want to fill in the blanks, I want the author to do that – that’s what I’m ‘paying’ him for. If I have to do it, then I’ll just write my own book and save myself a few bucks!

    He also said not to describe how something is being said. For instance, instead of saying, ‘”I don’t like it,” she grumbled’, it should be ‘”I don’t like it,” she said.’ Sorry – I disagree – I want to know if the character was grumbling, whining, whispering, shouting, growling…whatever. That makes the story come to life for me…that makes me ‘hear’ the characters in my head, which makes me feel more connected to them, and by extension, the story itself.

    I disagreed with most of the rules this author listed, and would never even attempt to read anything he’s written. Too many ‘rules’ restricting his writing. I say…no… I SHOUT, “Go ahead and break the rules and see what happens!”

    The Twilight series is a good example of this. I haven’t read the stories, nor do I intend to (but only because I’m not big on ‘traditional’ vampires). As I understand it, the writing style leaves a bit to be desired because it doesn’t follow ‘the rules’. However…it worked. Right or wrong, it sold well and it got young people reading again.

    So why can’t other broken rules – like ‘out of the blue’ twists – work as well? For me they often do.

    Keep in mind, too, that not all brains are wired the same. Perhaps some of us need ‘law’ – like Eric and Joe and many others – while some of us don’t mind a bit of ‘chaos’ (geez, I must really stop reading Moorcock 🙄 ). And maybe those writers who toss in those contrived twists are just like those of us who enjoy those contrived twists.

    I think there is a danger of suggesting that there are right and wrong ways to tell a story. It stifles creativity, it suggests that – if someone sees things differently – wants to express their ideas differently – it’s ‘wrong’, and worthy of ridicule. If it were not for those willing to take risks, art in all of its forms would never progress and evolve. Somewhere someone has to break the ‘rules’ and experiment if we are ever to get anything new.

    Just my two cents, but I stand by it.


  39. A long time ago, I saw an SCTV sketch about surprise “O’Henry” endings. A few short dramatic scenarios were presented and at the end of each one, a lion jumped out of some bushes and ate all the actors (A really fake lion, of course.) It was a very funny take on bad surprise, “twist” story or movie endings. I always think of this when I see really bad endings which are either groan worthy (all M. Night Shyamalan except The Sixth Sense) or completely laughable like the Planet of the Apes ala Tim Burton. I do remember laughing throughout that entire movie but the ending – priceless. Hard to understand how some of these films are financed and how they escape any studios and get into movie theaters. Where’s the lion when you need him?

  40. @Das – studying story structure does affect your movie-viewing experience.

    You suddenly enjoy many movies less and, where you might have assumed Woody Allen films were always given a 3 star handicap by suck ups, you suddenly start thinking he’s the greatest genius of all time.

    It was when I learned that Raiders of the Lost Ark broke a great big rule because it would have ended the same whether Indy got himself involved or not that I started putting it into perspective.

    What? Raiders of the Lost Arc (joke spelling) was a bad story? But Nazis melted! Say it isn’t so. It isn’t so.

    I had to resolve myself to never be ashamed of being a sucker for spectacle. Sucker doesn’t carry the dignity I wish to claim for all those who decide for themselves what they’ll accept as a satisfying story, but you see where I’m going with this.

    I can even bring myself to be insulted by certain kinds of cleverness or irony in a movie because I didn’t pay money to be quizzed on how well I can dissect a scene.

    Oppositional Defiance Disorder? Try and make me admit it.

  41. Das,

    Again, there is a big difference between an unexpected ending and an ending that comes so out of left field that it is either unconnected to what has come before or doesn’t make a hell of a lot of sense and has clearly just been slapped on as an afterthought. It’s like reading a murder mystery: the author establishes the murder, the suspects, the investigation, clues, develops the story, drops red herrings, and just when you get to the end and are looking forward to which of the suspects did it – you are introduced to a character who was neither introduced nor referenced earlier and told that he is the murderer. Unexpected, true, but a satisfying twist? I don’t think so.

  42. I just read your previous bit about clowns…I thought I was the only one. It seems we are kindred spirits on that front, the buggers don’t scare me they just piss me off. Every time I see one I just wan’t to let loose and cause some real harm to it’s idiotic smiling face.

    Blah I hate clowns.

  43. Das: All your points are right one Das! Also, don’t forget that Atlantis is in the San Francisco Bay and no one noticed the big splash/wave/misplaced water? 😀
    Ok, maybe he will take care of that in the movie.

    Give up Mr. M! Some of us need that escape from the real world and it’s problems. Some of us can overlook the ridculous and have fun. That is why you have a stable fan base with us! We love your stories and the occasional leaps of faith you have us take.


  44. Mac and cheese. So delish, don’t know how you resisted. My will power has gone on summer vacation.

  45. Okay, Joe…I give…for two reasons:

    1. You’re starting to scare me with all these direct replies. Next thing maybe you’ll show up on my doorstep to debate this further, flashing ‘twenty-seven 8X10 color glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence against me’ in this discussion. Why weren’t you this chatty when I wanted to discuss Elric?!! Or TODD?!!

    2. Because I just read up on this new thing DP mentioned – Oppositional Defiant Disorder – and I think I better stop now before I get THAT label slapped on me, too.


    That said, I do agree with your mystery story scenario – to an extent. See, for me it would all depend on the purpose of the story.

    Taking your scenario for instance, let us say that each of the ‘suspects’ looked very guilty. Each had motive, opportunity. You just KNOW one of them is the guilty party. If you were on the jury, you’d put them away for life! Maybe you’ve even chosen one to string up, even before the story is over.

    However…NONE are guilty. No…instead the guilty party is this person who shows up in the end. You just assumed one of the main suspects was the killer – an assumption made on what appeared to be an abundance of accurate evidence, and a lack of any other suspects/possibilities. It’s much the way it is in real life. Based on the evidence, you – the audience – would have put an innocent person behind bars, maybe even on death row.

    So, if the purpose of having such a twist to the story is to make the reader question his own judgement, think about the legal system and how it can fail the victim and the public, and raise debate over such issues as the death penalty, limited police resources, and innocence until proven guilty (as well as the lasting effects false accusations have on the innocent), then your scenario would be very effective. Of course, that’s a big ‘if’ – but what I’m suggesting is that sometimes a strange, out-of-the-blue twist is thrown in to force you to question your own convictions and perceptions of how things really are.

    I mean…if you’ve got a smart writer who likes to play with peoples’ heads. Otherwise, it could just be lazy storytelling, as you said…but I’m willing to give most the benefit of the doubt. Except the guy who made Manos: The Hands of Fate – there is just no defending that film! Even MST3K couldn’t make it better.

    Yeah – rambling…and I lied about not saying anything more… 😳


  46. @ Quade1 – LOLOL! 😆 I mean…not the injuries, but the descriptions! I love that site…

    Thanks for sharing, and thanks for the much-needed laugh!


  47. Das: I’m disappointed. Don’t give up! If Mr. M. shows up on your door, you can make him some of your BBQ chicken with corn on the cob. Maybe, you could talk him into bringing Todd on SGU?

    Quade1: very interesting!

    EVERYONE ELSE: Hey I just saw this on Jason Momoa’s MySpace page: “Stargate: Extinction (The Stargate Movie)
    Current mood: excited
    The first movie based on the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) TV series, Stargate: Atlantis is set to hit stores in 2010. SyFy will host a world premiere of the movie and then it will be released straight to DVD. It is now in pre-production. Check out the facts below:
    Filming in Vancouver, BC, Canada (shooting to start late 4th quarter 2009)”

    Big Wow! I’ve got a MIL with lung cancer, my dad died, my 86 year old aunt broke her neck, my brothers/SIL are crazy and are fighting over estates. I need a break from the real world!!!!!! Mr. M. bring on some escapism.


  48. Thanks to the gods of illusion, I only saw four of those movies, all on TV. The others, I can now not bother to look up. Thanks, JM.

    One small nitpick, however: some of the reviews come across as the old time, bitchy snits of critics long past (*cough* Richard Reed) who never saw a movie they liked unless it involved moody French ingenues at sidewalk cafes, and boobs. Even so, I take his point about the twist endings.

  49. i told people a long time ago right after the release of the first concept art that it would look like Bioshock and i was right. Steampunk is like the total opposite of whatever Atlantis was and it tabs into what made BSG appealing to most people. those drones confused alot of my friends who werent fans, also i watched BSG today and it bored me to death but my mom likes it so im like whatever. hope SGU doesnt turn out the same though. its funny that no one i know will ever want to come near anything by the name stargate. sucks to be them.

  50. @Candace:I love Sean Bean and I love The Game of Thrones. But saying that he is playing “the lead” is not enough information as there are a whole heck of a lot of characters in the story that are “leads” – I vote for him playing Jaime Lannister. But that may just be wishful thinking on my part! Did they specify which part he was playing?

    I guess I’m going to have to get HBO next year.

  51. @ Tammy – I think I scareded Joe away. 🙁

    @ Tim Gaffney – Stargate comics?! Well THAT could just be the escapism Tammy and I are looking for! 🙂

    Of course, the Atlantis comic will probably be dead Wraith all the time, unless – of course – someone who DOESN’T PLAY BY THE RULES is writing it! 😀


  52. My lecture down in New Mexico last week actually touched on this: I cannot stand scifi that invents a new exception to the laws of science in the last scene to fix their problems. It probably comes from reading Hal Clement’s “Whirlygig World” at too young of an age, but I agree with him! A writer doesn’t get to introduce time travel as a solution in the last 30 pages if the technology wasn’t acknowledged (or at least significantly far advanced that a breakthrough is plausible) in the first few hundred. It’s just another version of dues ex machina, and totally cheating.

    Something as equally irritating as a well-telegraphed twist, is a well-telegraphed lack of twist.

  53. Sorry for the late response. I’m just now catching up on the reading of blogs.

    @SunDancer you said “That would kill two winged, bipedal, endothermic, vertebrate animals with one piece of hard earthen substance, and I would not have to come up with the proper scientific name for that “Joel Goldsmith abandons composing to pursue acting” phobia…”

    Would that be Jogoabcotopuactphobia? or Jogoabcobia for the short form?

  54. I’m going to echo Joe’s sentiments here. While I very much enjoy interesting twists in a story, I like to at least be given a chance to figure things out in a book or movie. If an event or ending is totally unexpected, but is true to the story, I’m fine with it. And if, on going back to reread the story, I can see how perfectly said event fits into the world the writer is building, I’m ecstatic.

    But I hate it when the conclusion of the movie/story or solution of the mystery hinges on a fact that was known only to the writer right up until the last few minutes of the tale. (see examples given by Joe, Narelle and various people above).

    That said, I’m all for escapism and can suspend disbelief with the best of them (hell, why can’t the Nazis melt!!! – they had it coming). Bring on the fantasy and sci fi!

    And I found out that Sean Bean will play Ned Stark in A Game of Thrones on HBO. I wonder who they will get for Jaime and Cersei?

  55. I know we are talking about movies, but let me tell you two shows that made me scream at their endings: The Sopranos and Farscape (before the miniseries eventually lead to conclusions).

  56. There, Joe…see? Sparrow’s on your team. 😉

    Me? I’ll just keep sitting over here in the corner ————> with my dunce cap on. 😛

    I really shouldn’t try to tackle serious debates when, obviously, I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about! Woo! I’d much rather talk hawt pale guys with long hair anyway. It’s what the net has reduced me to…


  57. @das – I think it’s all a matter of preference when it comes to movies/books/TV. And it’s my analytical mind that insists on being given a fighting chance when I read or watch a mystery or suspense story – and actually just about anything else as well now that I think about it. I’m not the kind that can just go along for the ride, but it’s fine with me that other people can. So stop with the self-deprecating comments already! You know exactly what you are talking about and expressed it very well, as usual.

  58. das wrote, “I’d much rather talk hawt pale guys with long hair anyway.”

    Oh my gosh!! I didn’t see that either! Maybe I’m the one who needs new glasses! You sure you didn’t mean “hot pale guys”? That is what my brain read.

  59. @ Sparrow – Oh, you know me. I just think I sound so silly after I read what I’ve said, and compared it to others. I think it’s mainly because I know what I think, but – being a visual person – find it hard to put the pictures in my head into words.

    @ Pinytail – I meant to say ‘talk ABOUT hawt pale guys’ – the ‘hawt’ was on purpose, omitting the ‘about’ was my mistake. I think it’s because I got all flustered just thinking about hawt pale guys… 😛

    LOL…I’m SO leaving your name as I typed it!! LOLOL! Sorry about that, but it’s too funny to correct. 😀


  60. @ das – very funny young lady!! Yes, I’m from the timber country! You are a mess! By the way, I think you should be a lawyer. You sure can state a good argument.


  61. Hello Joe,

    I’ve been enjoying reading this past week posts on your weblog, and I think it is partially because I’ve started reading some of your “follower’s comments”.
    I Wish I had posted this comment earlier, but I have been too tired this past week to concentrate on writing a meaningful reply… consequently, my comment touches several comments or blog entries of this past week.

    As the debate seems to continue on whether SGU will be a worth watching TV series, I have been, despite my tiredness, trying to gather some new arguments that would convince me to watch SGU when it premieres in October of this year:
    Hum… , as I was picking my brain out:
    The new TV series has great set of writers (determined not underestimating the viewer’ intelligence), directors, actors, (etc …), and a brand new concept that I know little about.

    Then the picture of the very cool looking set came up on your blog. It was then, all of the above and the cool looking set. … But wait, as I put a halt to my enthusiasm while reading one of the comments, a great looking set is not enough! I sadly was back to square 1.

    While working on additional arguments that will encourage me to watch the series (not that I needed another one but why not!), I chose to direct my attention on an amusing discussion I read on Chris McQuillan ‘blog. Now there is, to me, nothing more amusing then someone who creates a lot of negative hype, and manages to alter his opinion when he realises that very few people agree with him. This discussion appears to be the case. He posted his opinion on SGU and none less then 9 comments later, he felt compelled to write “…But I fear you’ve made a misunderstanding. What I am saying is NOT that Universe is awful…” What misunderstanding! We can all read, we all got his point, and people responded accordingly, talk about underestimating a blog reader’s intelligence!

    Anyway, while I was delighting myself of his reaction, I realised that I was still looking for that one thing that I was not expecting about this project. Now there’s been a discussion about phobia and since I don’t have any, ( surprising isn’t it!), I could not help wonder if a certain SGU actor had interview phobia since I have not been able to find a single interview of this actor . And it seems that SGU was not going to be the exception. Then last night while surfing through gateworld .net, when I least expected it, there it was. I swallowed my saliva as I nervously clicked on the link expecting another false hope (false hope sounds cheesy, but I can’t remember how to spell the word that I meant to put here). But no, it was short, but it was there, a Louis Ferreira interview! Under “on the web …” link, THEN another teaser I had not seen before. I was trilled at the extra details about the project that I was able to get from the 2 clips posted. Why would I take Justin Louis/ Louis Ferreira‘s opinion? Simply because I have rarely been disappointed about any film project this actor has been in. No matter how big or small his role is, he always pick interesting project and seems to leave an impression. …

    Anyway, my reply is too long, as usual, and I got to go! Can risk being late for my evening appointment !

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