10 Movies With Great Second Halves (But Awful Firsts)

Good things come to those who wait.

Star Wars Attack of the Clones

Though movies are typically divided into three acts, it's nevertheless common for them to unfold as stories of two halves, with the latter 50% of the movie taking a more action-orientated turn or even switching perspective to a new character.

And while we've all seen promising first halves fumble the ball in the back-end - because writing a compelling ending is way harder than an enticing opening - it's less frequent that an initially rough film settles into genuine greatness later on.

But as evidenced by these 10 films, it clearly does happen. These movies all lost audiences early with their frustrating storytelling, poor direction, and patent lack of expected action.

And yet, they managed to win back a sizable chunk of viewers - those who hadn't yet left, anyway - with a second half which delivered everything fans wanted to see in the first place.

Was it enough to redeem the entire movie? In some cases just barely, in other cases not quite, but whatever the overall reception, these films left all their quality content waiting for audience members prepared to tough it out to the end...

10. Terminator 3: Rise Of The Machines

Star Wars Attack of the Clones
Warner Bros.

Despite being the best of the last three Terminator movies, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is nevertheless a wildly uneven movie - an initially underwhelming sequel which eventually morphs into an entertaining chase thriller.

The big problem with the first half of T3 is that it forces the viewer to accept a lot of things.

For starters, there's a new actor playing John Connor (Nick Stahl), and a new villainous Terminator, the T-X (Kristanna Loken), who can't hold a handle to the series' prior villains.

But what the first half of the movie gets truly wrong is its sheer avalanche of goofy humour, unconvincing action, and disappointing storytelling it piles upon fans.

From the silliness of the T-X inflating her chest to distract a cop, to the new T-101 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) stopping off at a gay bar to acquire some clothes, a car chase which randomly turns from night to day in mere minutes, the infamous "talk to duh hand" scene, and Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) being killed off-screen, it all leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

But the second half becomes a more urgent, traditionally Terminator-esque pursuit flick, complete with some surprisingly hardcore violence, a couple of F-bombs, an hilarious cameo from Dr. Silberman (Earl Boen), and general humour that actually lands.

That's not to forget the movie's coup de grace: a shockingly ballsy ending in which billions are nuked out of existence by Skynet, and all John and Kate (Claire Danes) can do is hole up in a fallout shelter while it happens.

If the entire movie had the more darkly humourous tenor of that second hour, this would've felt like a far worthier follow-up to T2 overall.


Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.