This week David Edelstein, film critic for Slate, collaborated with his readers to build a list of the top 20 most-idiotic-twist endings to movies. The survey is relatively comprehensive, but includes one glaring omission: the terrible twist in Sphere.
At the end of Sphere, the three surviving protagonists collectively decide to forget—all together on the count of three! (is that even possible?)—all of the unusual events leading up to that point in the movie. And WHAMO! By some alien-endowed mind-manifesting metaphysical stunt, all those events cease having happened! History is erased and the entire movie is nullified. You've just watched an account of something that never happened, even in the fictional universe of the movie. Glad I invested my time.
Oh, and if only it were that clear-cut. The moviemakers make no move to illustrate how the characters will explain their missing comrades. Or the gigantic glowing sphere that comes rocketing out of the ocean in full view of hundreds of Navy cadets.
Maybe if I concentrate and count to three I can forget the whole flick.
The movie contains no explicit time-travel, but the revision of history central to the plot's finale dips deeply into those waters. If the heroes use their newly-gained power to change history and erase their encounter with the sphere that gave them those powers, won't that erase their power to erase their power? But I'll let it pass and adhere to the age-old critical practice of ignoring time-travel paradoxes in cinema. We must allow spectacles like Timecop (where you have 3 copies of the bad guy and 3 Van Dammes fighting in the same room and if any 2 of one character touch they explode) if we are to assure clear landing for classics like Back to the Future and The Terminator.
If you DO care to enter the jungle of temporal discontinuity on the screen, there are at least three good websites examining time travel theory in movies:
And three that list movies but lack deep analysis: