A fun joke to have told your friends around the time that "Titanic" came out was, "Spoiler alert: The boat hits the iceberg!" I'm sure many, many people used that joke during the mid to late '90s, and all of them reaped the many benefits which followed, from more friends to more respect to a deeper appreciation of themselves as people.
Hell, making that joke even started Barack Obama's political career!
Indeed, not every movie is enjoyed just for its surprise ending. Some movie endings, in fact, are even built right into the title.
Here are nine that ask you to enjoy the journey, not the destination.
"The Shawshank Redemption," (1994)
"The Shawshank Redemption" would have presumably been a much tougher studio sell had the title been "Tim Robbins is Wrongly Convicted of a Crime and Then Dies in Prison After a Few Decades of Friendship with Morgan Freeman," though count me among those who would have camped out in front of the theater for three days to see that particular film. Still, the actual movie's good enough (and long enough) that you forget while watching that there's a redemption at the end, and legitimately fear for Andy Dufresne's (Robbins) well-being. And even the most jaded curmudgeon North Korea-cries at the above clip.
"Kill Bill 2" (2004)
This one needed some light detective work at the time: You needed to know that there was no "Kill Bill 3" (except that now, there is, apparently, but still). And though "Kill Bill 2" could equally have just doubled as The Bride's mission as opposed to the set-in-stone ending, it's not like we weren't all expecting David Carradine to show up at the end to get his ass kicked by Uma Thurman, considering she had just killed over 70 other relatively hapless individuals to get to him. The video clip above is indeed the final words exchanged between the two.
"The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford," (2007)
The best thing about the lead-up to the release of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" was that the movie voiceover guy had to say the title in every commercial, and if you speak in the low, intense tones of your typical movie voiceover guy, saying "Casey Affleck" and "Brad Pitt" before "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" pretty much takes up thirty seconds by itself. Yep, that was the best thing about the lead-up to the release of this movie, sadly. I'm all for revealing plot details with the title, but this one went too far, even if it was trying to be stylistic (or something).
"Free Willy," (1993)
The title "Free Willy" shouldn't be criticized for revealing too much plot detail as it should be for inviting sophomoric senses of humor around the world to make penis jokes about it for eternity. We couldn't have named the whale "Dwayne" or something? "Free Dwayne" would have made the same amount of money and still had an uber-popular Michael Jackson song attached to it, though of course MJ didn't exactly help the cause, for obvious reasons. Anyway, Dwayne the Whale becomes free at the end by jumping over his obnoxious human ten year-old buddy on a jetty.
"The Empire Strikes Back," (1980)
Among the Star Wars canon, "Return of the Jedi" and "Revenge of the Sith" can also go here, but I'm sticking with "Empire" because it's the best of the three and because it scarred me as a six year-old - not because Mark Hamill's hand gets cut off, but because of that scene where he's suspended unconscious in hot water in his tighty-whities. No one wants to see that, Mr. Lucas. Following the destruction of the Death Star, we knew our friends in the Rebellion were in for a world of hurt in the second film, and it was reinforced by the title. Damn you, Lando. Damn you.
"Saving Private Ryan," (1998)
The plot of this movie - Private Ryan's (Matt Damon) three brothers all die within days of each other, and a team led by Tom Hanks is sent to find him to bring him home - pretty much meant director Steven Spielberg and writer Robert Rodat would have been huge dicks if this movie ended any other way than what was expected by the title. (After 150 minutes) "Well men, we tried, but Ryan's dead. Regardless, good effort, everyone." *credits roll* The above scene is a fun one to watch in the event that you're just having too good a day.
"John Dies at the End," (2012)
John dying at the end is the least of your concerns while watching this movie - your main concern being something along the lines of, "Can I get through this without being on some sort of hallucinogen?" What really would have been brave is if they'd called the original "Die Hard" "John Dies at the End," and then kept the rest of the movie as is. Because not only are you walking out of the movie talking about a happy ending (Bruce Willis defeats the German terrorists), but you're saying to yourself with a smirk, "Hey, wait a minute..." Right? Aren't you? Why don't we move on.
"The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" (2003)
Whereas "The Fellowship of the Ring" and "The Two Towers" only gave away information regarding fellowships and towers, "The Return of the King" announced to fans who hadn't read any of J.R.R. Tolkien's books that a king was returning and it was probably a good thing for Frodo (Elijah Wood) and his lover Sean Astin (Sean Astin). And while "Return of the King" is a solid, neutral title, I still feel like the movie should have kept its working title, "78 Endings to the Same Movie All Back to Back Which Will Sadly Undercut Any Good Feelings You Had Towards The First 145 Minutes," though I do see why it was changed.
"Jack the Giant Slayer," (2013)
Confession: As you may know, "Jack the Giant Slayer" hasn't come out yet, which means this one's purely speculative. But the proof is in the pudding (not even sure if that phrase works in this situation - or, now that I think about it, where that phrase could have possibly come from originally): Jack (Nicholas Hoult) starts out as someone who is not a giant slayer. We know that much. And the movie is, once again, called "Jack the Giant Slayer." I'm just putting two and two together, here. Guessing he slays a few giants, and that at least one of them comes at the end. We'll see. But the title would seem destined for this fraternity.