The Final Destination
New Line // R // $35.99 // January 5, 2010
Review by Adam Tyner | posted January 5, 2010
Rent It
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Well, I'll say this for The Final Destination: you score your first decapitation before the counter even ticks to the seven minute mark, and that's gotta count for something.

Not that I'm telling you anything you don't already know, but the kills have always kinda been the point of the Final Destination franchise. Why settle for some undead mutant whacking a busty red shirt with a machete for the eight hojillionth time when you can have a leaking mug short out a computer monitor, lodge an oversized shard of glass in the neck of a depressed teacher, send her stumbling around a kitchen that by this point is completely engulfed in flames, plunge a knife perched perilously on the counter straight into her chest, and...why not?...whack it in there good when a chair tumbles over. The original Final Destination was a hit, and when the inevitable sequel rolled around, director David R. Ellis and screenwriter Eric Bress took what everyone dug so much -- those elaborate, cacklingly demented Rube Goldberg kills -- and chucked pretty much everything else straight out the driver's side window. I'm not so much the type to hammer out a "best of the decade!" list, but if I did, Final Destination 2 probably would've wound up on at least one of 'em: a breakneck pace, the jaw-droppingly spectacular carnage on the blacktop as a log truck spirals out of control, and the most depraved, wildly imaginative, and darkly comedic butchery this side of Happy Birthday to Me. Ellis and Bress sat out the mostly lackluster Final Destination 3, but both of them are back on the bill for The Final Destination.

Okay, I was excited about that, at least. Part of what made their last Final Destination flick such a blast is that it knew why the nutjobs in the theater had shelled out six bucks for a ticket, and it tried to avoid going more than a few minutes without some unhinged, hysterically over-the-top splatter. Geysers of the red stuff...limbs being torn off...a barbequed noggin leaping across the screen...even one poor bastard crushed flat like something out of the Wile E. Coyote playbook. Their followup, The Final Destination, takes a stab at cranking all that up to 11. Not only is the body count higher, but its barely-feature-length runtime keeps the splatter-per-second ratio hovering somewhere up there in the stratosphere. Hell, it's even in 3D; the franchise may not have any depth, but the onslaught of kills this time around sure does.

That's the idea, at least. It didn't pan out so much seeing as how The Final Destination easily ranks as the worst of the four flicks in the franchise. Even though the series has always really been about cacklingly creative carnage at the end of the day, the best of the movies would still find something to cram in between the kills. Final Destination 2 piled together a cast with enough personality that they still popped off the screen even without heaping on much characterization; the clunky acting in The Final Destination, meanwhile, makes Friday the 13th: A New Beginning look like a Palme d'Or front-runner. The characters are all flat and lifeless straight across the board -- some have one-note traits like "redneck", "misogynist", or "grieving recovering alcoholic", but otherwise, they're all interchangeable. That wouldn't be such a bad thing if the actors behind 'em weren't so boring to watch. The dialogue awkwardly creaks along too. Sure, most of it's of the
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"Aaaah! No!!!!!" variety, but it's bogged down by single-digit-IQ innuendo that's supposed to pass for comedy and a nasty habit of overexplaining everything. There's not even any point to rattling off a plot summary since you've probably seen this same exact story three other times by now. (Dude has a premonition of a catastrophe a minute or two in advance. As he panics, a few of his friends, a couple random bystanders, and some schlubs who think the guy's a nutjob wind up skirting least until Death starts knocking 'em off in the order they were supposed to have died. Guy picks up on the pattern, tries to stave off the parade of grisly deaths but usually manages to wind up just in time to have blood spattered across his face, and it all builds up to a big twist ending.) The only plot element that ever changes is the disaster-du-jour, and it's crumbling speedway/flying NASCAR this time around. Kinda lame following the more universal flying, driving, and sketchy amusement park rides from the other movies, but whatever.

...and this is the part where you start screaming that I'm missing the point. No, I'm getting there...pinky swear. The kills! The Milton Bradley-Mouse Trap mayhem is the marquee draw, after all, and The Final Destination even gives it all a 3D spit-and-polish. Kinda depressing to say that the movie bungles most of that too. A surprisingly hefty percentage of the body count is just random people getting flattened by oversized things falling from the sky. Brilliant in Final Destination 2, kinda funny the first time it happens in The Final Destination, and...yeah, by the fourth or fifth time, I really do get it. Hurry up and show me what else you've got. There are only two standout sequences: the demented carnage at the speedway, natch, and Krista Allen hitting a salon as a few hundred thousand different ways for her to be knocked off are setup. It's the only genuinely tense, suspenseful scene in the entire flick. Otherwise, the kills aren't nearly as inspired as they were in the first couple Final Destinations, and the gags that may have gotten a laugh-slash-jolt in RealD theatrically don't translate to home video even a little bit. C'mon, this is a flick with a bone-crunching escalator, car wash-fu, lawn mower-fu, a human colander, and flying car parts carving everyone and everything into tiny, fist-sized, bloody can it be this much of an indifferent shrug? For the most lavishly budgeted movie in the series -- with a price tag that's about as high as the two movies before it combined -- the CGI is often distractingly unconvincing too. Brace yourself to cringe when you get a peek at Nicky's GameCube-grade premonitions.

There's just not much to latch onto, especially now that The Final Destination has clawed its way out of theaters and onto Blu-ray. The same story warmed over practically beat-for-beat yet again, paint-by-numbers characters and dialogue, anemic casting, mostly forgettable kills, and an overreliance on a 3D gimmick that keels over and dies on home video...? If you've gotta watch The Final Destination, I'd say Rent It.

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This dual-layer Blu-ray disc serves up two separate VC-1 encodes -- one for a 2D cut of the flick along with an anaglyph 3D version. Two 3D glasses are tucked inside the case, and although red/green glasses have gotten to be standard issue these days, The Final Destination sticks with the tried-and-not-really-true red/blue. This stab at anaglyph 3D suffers from all the usual hiccups. The glasses mangle pretty much every trace of color, such as fleshtones that now veer towards more of a sickly green. The image also tends to ghost more than the 3D flicks making the rounds in theaters. ...and yeah, none of that's unexpected, really. Proper 3D on Blu-ray is still a ways off, after all. How do these effects play, though? Not well. Admittedly, there is a pretty decent sense of depth in static shots...y'know, when people are just standing around. Even though The Final Destination can't go more than a couple of minutes without flinging something at the camera, none of those in-your-face effects actually look like they're careening head-on. I mean, the entire flick is basically a barely-feature-length excuse to string together a bunch of 3D effects, and most of 'em fall flat.

So, how 'bout the 2D version? The 2.39:1 image is reasonably crisp, clean, and clear, although the HD cameras that The Final Destination is lugging around don't look to be bleeding-edge. Detail tends to be pretty middling, and whites are blown out in that opening speedway sequence. The whole thing just looks a little more rough-hewn than a $40 million horror flick probably ought to -- very edgy and digital. The Final Destination looks okay on Blu-ray, but there's nothing eye-popping about it (well, unless you count the eye that literally pops out of someone's head, which I don't).

Yeah, I know I've griped about pretty much everything else on this Blu-ray disc, but it's tough to find anything to bitch about The Final Destination's six-channel, 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio track. Soundtracks really don't get much more hyperaggressive than this: racecars screaming from one end of the screen to the other at a couple hundred miles per hour, relentless whirring and rattling in a body shop, guts soaring from one speaker to the next, silky smooth pans as damn near everything is flung straight at the know the drill. Imaging and directionality never really let up, and even something as tame as a chick getting her nails cleaned sounds massive on Blu-ray. The sound design is reinforced by a thunderous low-end, and the film's dialogue is generally rendered cleanly and clearly. It's a drag that the only thing about the theatrical experience that made its way to home video is this twenty megaton soundtrack, but...well, it's something, at least.

The Final Destination also belts out a Dolby Digital 5.1 dub in Spanish along with subtitles in English (SDH) and Spanish.

  • Body Count: The Deaths of The Final Destination (22 min.; HD): The
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    meatiest of the extras on this Blu-ray disc, "Body Count" dives behind the scenes into seven of The Final Destination's grisliest kills. The featurette follows the crew as they shoot different elements for the visual effects, fling actors around from one end of the set to the other on wires, and show off the prosthetics and blood-spewing puppets lovingly crafted by KNB FX. The best part, really, is seeing the actors in the bright of day, waiting for cameras to start rolling with their skewered heads, rubber guts, and split lips rip-roarin' and ready to go.

  • Deleted Scenes (11 min.; HD): Believe it or not, the deleted scenes reel isn't just characterization that was yanked out of the flick and left scattered all over the cutting room floor. There's quite a bit of carnage here, including a much more elaborate take on the gut-sucking at the swimming pool. A couple of waiting-your-turn-immortality tests and we've-been-given-a-second-chance! speechifying round it all out. Served up separately are two alternate endings. One clocks in at just a few seconds, taking one of the final kills and doubling the body count. The other runs a little over three minutes and tosses on some ridiculously goofy martyrdom.

  • Racecar Crash and Mall Explosion (11 min.; HD): The two biggest sequences in the movie score montages of storyboards, rough CG animatics, and different stages of the visual effects work.

  • First Look: A Nightmare on Elm Street (2 min.; HD): The upcoming Nightmare retread winds up with a two minute promotional featurette that mixes together the usual making-of stuff with a few short snippets from the movie.
'Course, you could also count the inclusion of both the 2D and 3D versions of the flick as an extra, I guess. The Final Destination comes packaged in a cardboard sleeve with lenticular animated cover art, and two pairs of 3D glasses are tucked inside the case. The second disc in the set features a digital copy for use on iTunes and Windows Media-powered devices. Oh! And The Final Destination is BD Live-enabled, but at least as I write this, the only online bell-and-whistle that has anything to do with the movie is a standard-def trailer.

The Final Word
Being crammed in a theater fat-packed with gorehounds...eyeballs and innards being flung at you in bright, shiny 3D...yeah, that's an experience. The Final Destination leans way too heavily on the 3D gimmick as a crutch, though, and when that's more or less yanked out from under it on Blu-ray, what's left is the worst of the four flicks in this series. Yeah, yeah, I know you're not in it for sparkling dialogue or lush characterization, but even most of the kills are pretty forgettable. Doesn't leave much else to actually recommend, so I guess that's a longwinded way of saying "Rent It."

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