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The Lone Ranger And 5 Other Bad Movies With Fantastic Endings

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger movie
(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

It’s hard to stick the landing. The thing that people will remember most after they watch a movie is the ending, so making that ending work is just about the most important thing there is. Even if the rest if your story is perfect, if the ending leaves people unsatisfied, it can tarnish the entire project.

Then there are the movies that go the other direction. Sometimes a movie is, overall, honestly not that great, yet somehow, when it comes to act three, it pulls it out of the fire. In most cases, this probably doesn’t save the movie; it's still bad, but it still has value as a movie with an incredible finale. Here are some examples of bad movies with amazing endings. 

Before going further, it's important to note that we're staying away from twist endings here, as they can frequently change one's perspective on an entire film and make us see "bad" parts in a different light. in this case, we're talking about movies that are still mostly bad when the credits role, even though the ending was surprisingly good.

Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in the lone ranger

(Image credit: Walt Disney Studios)

The Lone Ranger

On paper, it's easy to see why The Lone Ranger was a popular idea. The director of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie returns and re-teams with Johnny Depp for another pulp adventure, this time swapping pirates for cowboys. Unfortunately, this time Depp's antics get the better of him and he draws the wrong sort of attention away from the titular hero. Of course, the movie has other issues as well

And then that music starts and everything changes. When the "William Tell Overture" begins to play and the Lone Ranger goes racing for that train, the movie shifts into the adventure it's been trying to be. The ending is so good it makes the rest of the movie's issues that much more frustrating. The Lone Ranger even ends with some surprising emotional resonance as we watch an elder Tonto walk slowly off into the distance for the entirety of the credits. 

Darth Maul, looking tough

(Image credit: LucasFilm)

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

At this point, little needs to be said about the Star Wars prequels. While they've received somewhat of a reevaluation in recent years, it's hard to argue the movies are great. The first two-thirds of The Phantom Menace seem to have little going for them except for the cool digital effects of a pod race sequence.

But we all love "The Duel of the Fates," don't we? From the moment Darth Maul comes face-to-face with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Qui-Gon Jinn, we get what is generally considered the best lightsaber battle in the entire franchise. John Williams music adds that extra bit of emotion, as it nearly always does. The only problem with the ending is that it isn't just this fight, but it's easy to overlook the rest because this sequence is so good.

Mike and Sully in Monsters University

(Image credit: Pixar)

Monsters University

It's hard to say that any Pixar movie is truly bad, but Monsters University is one of the studio's entries that you've likely largely forgotten about. While seeing Mike and Sully together on the screen after Monsters Inc. has its charm, it's just difficult to understand while watching it why this was a Pixar prequel worth making.

But it is, because the ending is the point. When Mike is forced to face the fact that he's not the monster that he's always wanted to be, it is absolutely heartbreaking. That emotional resonance that Pixar is so known for comes through despite everything that came before, and because it does, the rest of the movie flies by on the power of this sequence.

Godzilla

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Godzilla (2014)

When we go to see a Godzilla movie, then we're expecting a Godzilla movie. In other words, we want to see the giant monster destroying things. If we're going to focus the story more on human characters, then it should be their reaction or response to Godzilla that we're dealing with for the most part. Unfortunately, none of that is the story we get for most of 2014's Godzilla, and the title character is barely in the movie. This was clearly an attempt to pull a Jaws by keeping the monster hidden, but it just doesn't work here 

But we know that the movie is building up to a giant monster fight, and at the very least, when we get there, the fight does not disappoint. It's complete kaiju madness, and at this point it's all anybody remembers from that movie.

arnold scharzenegger and Kristanna Loken fighting

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

The first Terminator is an iconic film, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day is even better. But after that, the Terminator franchise fell off a cliff, and it started with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Whatever magic the first two installments had is missing here. 

However, when it comes down to the end, T3 makes itself memorable by going where the previous films were unable or unwilling to go and finally giving us Judgement Day. Perhaps it's because the end is so unexpected that it works so well, but the conclusion is memorable, and in a good way.

Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy in Anchorman 2

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is one of those movies that has obtained cult status as one of the most hilarious, and insane, of Will Ferrell's comedies. It's a movie that didn't really need a sequel, but if it was going to get one, there would be an audience for it. However, while the movie isn't without its moments, most would agree the sequel didn't quite live up to the "legend."

That is, until the end, when Anchorman 2 gives us the the local news brawl to end all local news brawls. Every time you think the movie has run out of characters and cameos to include, another group shows up to add to the mess. The sequence goes so far overboard it's impressive.

A bad ending can ruin an otherwise good movie. Antithetically, a great ending rarely saves a bad film. If you agree that these movies are bad outside of their ending, you likely wouldn't love to watch the whole movie again. If, however, you found these on streaming, you might skip ahead just to re-experience the great ending one more time. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.