5. War Of The Worlds (2005)

Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning surrounded by soldiers in War of the Worlds (2005)

The 2005 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ classic sci-fi novel The War of the Worlds brought A-list talent to the equation and therefore seemed to have all the ingredients of an instant classic. However, it was missing one or two key elements, and ultimately didn’t quite capture our collective imaginations in the way it probably should have done, resulting in a far less successful movie than one might have expected. Predictably, as it features on this list, one of those elements was the movie’s ending.

Wells’ novel features an ending in which the aliens attacking Earth are defeated by simple pathogens that they’re unable to resist. However, the book ends with its human characters reflecting on the experience and what it means for both the survivors and future generations, offering a thought-provoking examination of how hostile aliens would force humanity to re-evaluate their own place in the universe. The film features nothing of the sort.

The movie ends with the aliens defeated by germs, too, except then Ray (Tom Cruise) reunites with his son Robbie who he had been separated from earlier in the movie. That Robbie had miraculously survived was already somewhat a ridiculous turn of events, but then the movie simply ends with a narrator explaining that microbes had killed off the aliens and that it was “God in his infinite wisdom” who had saved humanity. Ending with a heavy-handed religious sentiment as opposed to the existential ponderings of the novel is a total failure of the source material, and it undermines the film’s entire story to boot. It’s an underwhelming and implausibly happy ending that’s memorable for all the wrong reasons.