From the Blu-Ray.com review:Ultimately, though, Altered States ends before satisfactorily completing its story. Having taken Jessup to the point where he appears to have reached the end of his quest, where even Mason can no longer deny that something extraordinary has happened—"What we saw tonight was a physical phenomenon, an inexplicable physical phenomenon!" shouts Arthur—the film needs a whole second part, or at least a third act, showing how the characters deal with the new reality, or at least conclude that some borders weren't meant to be crossed (as they say on Fringe) and then make a joint decision to abandon this research and never speak of it again.
NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! The movie ended exactly where and how it should have ended.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Because you don't know what Jessup's future is going to be, and no one knows. Yes, he may put this all behind him for awhile. But a brilliant mind can't live for long knowing or believing that life is essentially meaningless except for the transient meaning we give it by loving each other. Jessup's future is madness or depression or.... religious conversion, descent back into the lab... Who knows?
As for his colleagues... It's anyone's guess what they would now think or do.
Even if at the end they did "conclude that some borders weren't meant to be crossed (as they say on Fringe) and then make a joint decision to abandon this research and never speak of it again," you know that could never be certain, so you'd be back with the way the movie ended anyway.
Yep, the movie ended exactly where and how it should have, though perhaps more optimistically and weirdly than it should have, giving the impression that all will now be well. But how can Jessup continue in his profession knowing what he now knows? How can he continue playing the game of Life knowing or believing that one's continued investment in living depends on staying grounded or "high" on "love" in order to continue fooling oneself into thinking that Life has an ultimate or eternal meaning?
I can see the sequels, though:
Bride of Altered States
Son of Altered States
Ghost of Altered States
Maybe it's better that another part or sequel was never made so we don't see or know how Jessup and his colleagues and family handled this. On the other hand, a sequel with all the original cast might be interesting, though I don't think Jessup or Arthur could have kept this on the back burner untouched for 32 years.Edited by eweiss - 7/6/12 at 10:53am