The original "Final Destination" was a darkly creepy thriller, a horror movie without a visible villian. While admittedly not a horror fan, I appreciated the fact that some thought went into the film's rules, the movie had some creatively done jump-scares and the performances were good. The sequel was likely an unplanned edition, pulled together after the moderate success (cartoon series "Family Guy" offered an episode that was somewhat a parody) of the original. It is exactly more of the same, but done in a way that's still tense and still occasionally rather clever.
The film opens with a trip for Kimberly (A.J. Cook) and her friends. Kimberly has a vision of a horrific traffic accident about to occur before she gets on the freeway, then stops traffic. The resulting traffic jam irritates many, at least until they see the accident they could have been in happen just up the road. As with the first film, Death's plans have been ruined and he comes after those who've escaped. The result: a lot of ridiculously elaborate scenes where the characters get taken out, one by one.
Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), one of the only survivors from the first picture, also returns. Locked up in a mental institution to protect herself from the continued threat. Despite an irritated entrance, Clear eventually decides to help out. There's not a lot of plot involved, just the main characters trying to save themselves, while also often restating the rules of the movie to each other, occasionally realizing new changes or differences. Although Kimberly's gift of some sort of psychic vision is an iffy idea, her putting together the pieces of the puzzle as the audience does adds to the involvement and tension that the movie manages.
"Final Destination 2" is a odd mix of personalities, which sort of appealed to me - the film seems a bit harder (the sequel is definitely a hard "R" and more, er...visual) and slicker than the first film, but that sort of mean-spiritedness is tempered by a sort of silliness that makes the whole thing rather entertaining and show that the film isn't taking itself entirely seriously. One particular bit of hilarity is when Kimberly has a vision that the next victims are going to be attacked by...pigeons. Still, these lines are delivered in a way that, amazingly, doesn't result in the kind of unintentional hilarity that takes one's interest out of the scene. Really, it's all the result of acting that, while mediocre in any other movie, works quite wonderfully here. Larter is especially fascinating as a "tough chick", a role that seems pretty unlikely for the actress.
A slick-looking and well-paced sequel, "Final Destination 2" isn't anything ambitious and story-wise, it's not even quite as developed as the first picture, but it's a fairly entertaining ride.
VIDEO: "Final Destination 2" is presented by New Line in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan & scan. Both editions are presented on a dual-sided disc, with the widescreen edition on a dual-layered side. The anamorphic widescreen edition is a prime example of New Line at their finest. This is an amazing transfer, with absolutely marvelous clarity and definition. Every scene retains a consistent, smooth appearance that offers great depth to the image.
I can find no flaw with the image quality. Edge enhancement is entirely absent, the print seemed to be in absolutely superb condition, and no compression artifacts were spotted. This presentation is simply stunning. Colors remained bright and vivid throughout, with excellent saturation and no issues.
SOUND: "Final Destination 2" is presented by New Line in Dolby Digital 5.1-EX and DTS 6.1-ES (Discrete). I have to give New Line credit for being one of the few studios to consistently support DTS-ES and DD-EX on quite a few of their major new releases. Also, the soundtrack has been optimized for DVD, according to the sound menu, and no equalization is required. This is certainly a very aggressive soundtrack at times, putting the rear speakers (and the back surround) to excellent (and discrete, in the case of the DTS-ES soundtrack) use. Although some stretches fold up to the front for dialogue-driven passages, almost any opportunity for surround use in many of the scenes seemed to be taken advantage of. Sound effects are punchy and dynamic, and the music has nice presence, as well. Dialogue remains crisp and clear. Strong bass is present at times, as well.
Commentary: Commentary with director David Ellis, producer Craig Perry and writers Eric Bress and J. Gruber is offered. The commentary manages to be quite funny and quite informative at the same time. The four are joined together for the commentary and spend much of the time getting into the core elements of the film and how they were brought together. They have some interesting insights into the concepts behind the screenplay and characters, as well as more technical details, such as how stunt sequences were pulled together and other stories from the production. Jokes fly in-between the details, as the four goof on some of the plot twists and story ideas they'd heard for the sequel.
Bits and Pieces: This is a 30-minute documentary that starts off with a brief history of the genre, which is really quite interesting and a good way to start off the featurette. Eventually, the documentary discusses the main scenes of "Final Destination 2", offering more in-depth looks at the effects of the first big scene (including some tests), the construction of the other main scene and some of the make-up FX.
Trailers: Trailers for the first and second movies, as well as one for something called "Highwaymen".
Cheating Death: This is an 18-minute documentary featuring interviews with people who believe they have cheated death and talk about their near-death experiences.
Terror Gauge: This 14-minute piece discusses how the brain reacts to terror/stress in horror movies, as a few test subjects are strapped in - "Clockwork Orange"-style - to watch "Final Destination 2" and have their physical reactions measured.
Infinifilm: This is another in New Line's "Infinifilm" series. If turned on, this feature allows viewers to jump to related material for the scene, watch it and then come back to the movie. There is also a subtitle "fact track" included.
Also: Deleted scenes (5), music videos, interactive game.
Final Thoughts: "Final Destination 2" is more of the same from the original - while the scares seem more complex, I wish some story elements from the original could have been expanded upon. Still, the movie offers some fun for horror fans and, in terms of technical credits, it's certainly well-done. New Line's Infinifilm edition DVD offers outstanding, reference-quality video, stellar audio and plenty of supplements. Recommended for fans or those interested.