3The Abyss Was Originally More Independence Day
The Abyss is the story of a group of Navy SEALs and offshore oil drillers attempting to recover a sunken nuclear submarine from the bottom of the ocean and keep it from detonating. That could have been a pretty awesome film on its own, but then aliens showed up.
This triggers a battle of wills between the military and the blue collar types as to how to treat the aliens -- as a national security threat, or as our new, glowing friends?
Nah, just kind of poke them in the forehead.
The Ending We Got:
The military guys wind up setting a timer on a nuclear warhead with the intention of killing the aliens. It's up to Ed Harris's character, Bud, to defuse it. He sacrifices himself, diving so far down that he won't have enough oxygen to make it back to base.
But, while he waits to die, the aliens show up and rescue him, moved by his sacrifice. The friendly, peace-loving aliens take him to their own aquatic spaceship to show him they intercepted his final private message to his wife, and to demonstrate their complete lack of personal boundaries. Then they take him, the crew and the entire damn rig to the surface on the hull of their ship. Roll credits.
What Did We Almost Get Instead?
In an alternate version, the aliens aren't nearly as nice. They still bring Bud to their ship, but this time they do it for passive aggressive reasons -- to tell him they're going to wipe out human civilization.
They show him how much humanity sucks through news clips of the various atrocities committed by man throughout history, and boast about how they can pick up TV reception at the bottom of the ocean. Then they show him how they intend to wipe out humanity with super-tsunamis. The massive waves then actually start forming along every coastal city of the world, in a scene that had to have been the most expensive in the film:
This ending is confusing for a lot of reasons. Were the aliens down there watching our news for years, just seething? Why did they wait to end the world until they finally had someone to drag onto their ship and chastise? That seems awfully petty for an advanced life form. Even more bizarre, this ending assumed they were swayed to save humanity because of one love letter. Surely in all that news they were watching they would have caught at least one human interest story.
Most egregious, however, is the inherent hypocrisy of the message they later send through Bud. If it "bothers them to see us hurting each other," the best solution is probably not exterminating the species. The theatrical film never depicts the aliens as anything but curious, benevolent and eventually outright helpful, but no matter how you slice it, this alternative ending just makes them into fluorescent undersea dicks. Which kind of means the crazy Navy SEAL was right to try to nuke them.
The only way to fight genocide is with more genocide.
2Titanic Was Just ... Weird
Judging by the box office records, statistically everyone reading this already knows the story: Young Rose Bukater (Kate Winslet), trapped in an arranged marriage to a horrible man, is saved from jumping overboard and drowning herself by a penniless artist played by Leo DiCaprio who, in an ironic twist, ends up drowning a few hours later.
In between is a lot of drama and a surprising bit of nudity. As an old woman, Rose recounts the story to a salvage ship's crew headed by Bill Paxton, as they search for clues to what happened to the priceless "Heart of the Ocean" necklace.
There it is! Get her!
The Ending We Got:
We find out that Rose has in fact lived her whole life in possession of the necklace. After telling her story and showing naked drawings of herself to her granddaughter and a ship full of sailors, she sneaks out onto the ship's deck alone and drops the stone overboard in memory of her beloved Jack. Then she goes inside to (presumably) die in her sleep, dreaming of her fling on board the Titanic all those years ago.
The ending pretty well lines up with the rest of the movie: It's a tale of a tragic love that is doomed from the beginning due to circumstances beyond their control, but a love that still persists regardless. You know, like in the theme song.
Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up ...
What Did We Almost Get Instead?
James Cameron can shoot the hell out of some special effects, but dialogue isn't really his thing. That's what makes the ending work -- no one is talking. Old Rose silently walks out, drops the necklace, then lays down to dream about banging young Leonardo DiCaprio.
That ending took some restraint on Cameron's part, because the alternate ending is a corny mess:
In this version, Bill Paxton and his crew rush out to stop her from dropping the necklace. Then, Rose looks right at the camera and states the lesson of the movie:
"You look for treasure in the wrong place, Mr. Lovett. Only life is priceless, and making each day count."
She drops the necklace overboard, prompting one of the crew members to scream, "THAT REALLY SUCKS, LADY!"
But Bill Paxton realizes she is right, and that material possessions mean nothing. Free from the burden of pursuing earthly riches, Paxton looks up toward heaven and laughs heartily.
In fact, they had a pretty hard time keeping him from laughing during every second of that scene.
Then he turns to Rose's granddaughter and asks, "Want to dance?"
Other than being amazingly goofy, her actions are completely pointless -- she's standing on a boat full of equipment and crew that is designed specifically for finding artifacts on the ocean floor, and that necklace is valuable enough to make everyone on board rich. Even if Bill Paxton has learned this important life lesson, the rest of the team knows exactly where the necklace was dropped. It'd take them about half an hour to go down and retrieve it. And if Paxton's character tried to stop them, we're pretty sure they'd toss him down there with Leo.
"Why are you all looking at me like th- wait, HELP!"