4The Lord of the Rings: Sauron Lets Gollum Go, for Some Reason
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is one huge underdog story; two semi-competent hobbits must destroy a powerful ring which, in the hands of the evil Sauron, could enslave all of Middle-earth. The only problem is that the ring can only be destroyed in the place where it was forged -- that is, an active volcano called "Mount Doom."
The other only problem is that Mount Doom is in a region called Mordor, and our awareness of tired Internet memes tells us that one does not simply waltz into Mordor, so two is out of the question. The other other only problem is that the only known entrance to Mordor looks like this:
And is protected by these guys:
And these other guys:
And these other ... things:
The hobbits somehow manage to reach Mordor, but what are they supposed to do now? If they are caught trying to sneak past the heavily guarded gate, the ring goes back to Sauron and everyone is screwed. And if they try to fight their way in, they risk getting trampled by a monster or, you know, anything else, because did we mention that these are just hobbits?
The only role in which a former child star can find success, because it reminds us of when they were small.
But the Villain Saved the Day:
The only reason that the hobbits were able to go into Mordor without fighting a million dudes was that they had the help of Gollum. And the reason they had that help was because Sauron let Gollum go.
Early in the first film, Gollum was dicking around Mordor one day when he was captured by Sauron and tortured for information about the ring, since Gollum himself was a previous owner. Gollum says, "The hobbits have it! One of them took it from me!"
"Shire! Baggins! He also called you a diiiiiiick!"
So Sauron knows everything he needs to know from this Gollum monster. So, now let's look at this from Sauron's perspective: His prisoner knows the hobbits, is obsessed with the ring and knows his way around Mordor. He has every piece of crucial information an opposing army would need if they were going to, say, try to destroy the ring or use it against Sauron. You'd think that would warrant being killed or at least thrown into a dungeon for all eternity -- and yet for some reason Sauron lets him go free.
"And now, kill the ... the ... there are some lady elves making out. What was I saying?"
Keep in mind that Sauron is a "kill first, don't ask questions later" kinda guy: He was a big fan of human sacrifice and, oh, the ultimate incarnation of evil. And yet he spares the insignificant life of a guy who knows enough about his plans to screw them, and who in fact does exactly that. Predictably, Gollum ends up showing the hobbits the alternate way into Mordor -- with ulterior motives, but still. He's also the one who unwittingly alerts the hobbits about Sauron in the first place, and the one who finally kills Sauron by dropping the ring into the volcano (along with himself).
It wouldn't be that hard to re-edit LOTR with Gollum as the real hero, because he already is.
3Total Recall: The Bad Guys Don't Bother to Sedate Arnold
Near the end of Total Recall, Arnold Schwarzenegger's character is strapped to a chair and about to have his brain deleted. That's about as screwed as one can be. It's not just that the hero will lose; it's that in a few minutes he won't even exist because his mind will be replaced by an alternate personality (who happens to be a complete bastard).
"Tell me to go fuck myself."
The villain, Vilos Cohaagen, is basically the mayor of an Earth colony on Mars, but he's less concerned with mayoring and more with being evil. Cohaagen wants to destroy the rebels who are getting in the way of his greediness, so his subordinate (Arnold) volunteers to have fake memories implanted as part of a convoluted plan to infiltrate the group and kill their leader. And it works.
So basically, Arnold has been working for the villain for the entire movie and doesn't even know it. Everything that has happened up to the point where Arnold is captured has gone according to the (needlessly complicated but carefully executed) plan. The only silver lining here is that there's a pretty big chance that this is all a dream anyway.
"And for an extra $24.99, we trap you in a psychotic coma filled with busty mutants forever."
But the Villain Saved the Day:
At the last minute, Arnold breaks the restraints on his brain-erasing chair and kills everyone in the room. This, after patiently sitting there while Cohaagen gives his villain monologue explaining everything ... to a man whose brain he's about to erase anyway. This is what they did instead of, you know, sedating Arnold.
Cohaagen's scientists know that this extremely pissed off conglomeration of muscles is a trained killer, and they had more than enough time to put him under before they attempted to erase his mind ... but they just didn't bother. Because of that, this happens:
Arnold tears the chair apart and kills all the scientists with the pieces. Which, really, is the least you'd expect Arnold to do in this situation. If you've seen the movie, you might remember that Arnold had been successfully mind-wiped against his will once before -- that's because back then they took the basic precaution of sedating him. He did try to resist that time, but it only took one of those scientists a few seconds to give him a couple more shots and put him to sleep. So, what, was that the last sedative they owned?
Presumably Cohaagen knew about that previous incident (because, again, every single thing that happened in the movie had to be part of his plan), but despite this, and despite the violent deaths of several of his men at Arnold's hands, the only anesthetic method they employ in this scene is a condescending scientist telling Arnold to calm down.
"And don't force those restraints, please, they are extremely easy to break."
If all of this happened inside Arnold's head after all, his imagination leaves a lot to be desired.
We take that back.
And while we're on the subject of Schwarzenegger villains ...