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Final Destination 5

Warner Bros. // R // December 27, 2011 // Region 0
List Price: $35.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Adam Tyner | posted December 18, 2011 | E-mail the Author
Well, here's how I rank 'em, at least:
  1. Final Destination 2
  2. Final Destination 5
  3. Final Destination 3
  4. Final Destination
  5. The Final Destination (the shitty 3D one)
If you've been following the Final Destination series with the same...I don't know, psychotic fervor that I have, you probably don't need much more of a review than that. As genre franchises go, this one's pretty
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much perfect. I mean, with most horror series, the sequels are either a pretty much beat-for-beat rehash of the original, they veer off in a different direction while losing out on everything everyone liked about the other flicks, or they waste an inordinate amount of time fleshing out a mythology that absolutely no one could give two shits about. The Final Destination franchise, meanwhile, can whip out the same exact formula every time but still feel like completely different movies. There's no elaborately dense backstory, pretty much the entire cast is swapped out in each installment, and the real stars of the series are the elaborate, cacklingly depraved kills. ...and, yeah, Final Destination 5 piles on some of the most inventive splatter in the entire franchise, latching onto just about everything I dug so much about part two and giving it a glossy, massively budgeted, 3D spit-and-polish.

Okay, yeah, the overall premise is the same as ever. Premonition of some tragic catastrophe. Dude freaks out, and a few of his/her friends -- plus a couple of unlikeable pricks -- somehow wind up out of harm's way. Death gets miffed about his plan getting kicked in the keister, so the survivors start getting knocked off in one freak accident after another. Survivor Numero Uno realizes that they're all dying in the same order they did in his premonition, and whoever's left bands together to find a way to skirt around Death's plan. Twist ending you never saw coming. Everybody's dead. Fade to black. Roll credits. The tragedy-du-jour is a suspension bridge in some nameless metropolis that suddenly crumbles apart,
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killing who knows how many hundreds of people, including a busful of folks from Presage Paper. A mostly terrible salesman by day and an apparently brilliant sous-chef or whatever by night, Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto) has a vision of the disaster and darts away just in time, taking his newly-minted ex-girlfriend (Emma Bell) with him. His best buddy Peter (Miles Fisher), Petey's college-age gymnast fling (Ellen Wroe), a doughy womanizer (P.J. Byrne), a young supervisor struggling for respect (Arlen Escarpeta), the stripperesque office bitch (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), and th' big man in charge (David Koechner) manage to slink away in the nick of time too. Everyone else...? Glug glug glug, and that's if they weren't dead when the bus plunged into the water far, far below. With the grisly, fucked-up fates that Death has in store for the at-least-for-a-while survivors, it sounds like those poor bastards who merely drowned in a river had it easy.

It does take Final Destination 5 a little while to get going. The opening credits that were so ridiculously cool in 3D theatrically wind up feeling like three and a half of the longest, most pointless minutes of my life when flattened down to 2D. The introductory "hey, let's get to know our main characters!" sequence plays better for me the second time through than it did in theaters, but the whole thing is still really awkward and not even a little bit engaging. Just when you start to slouch on your armrest, Final Destination 5 mashes its foot down on the gas pedal and doesn't ease up for the next seventy-however-many minutes. This is the reportedly the most lavishly budgeted installment in the series to date, and every last dollar of that is
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splashed across the screen. The elaborate destruction of the suspension bridge is visually dazzling in its own right; sprinkle in a bunch of gruesome deaths along the way and it's in the running as my favorite sequence, period, of any movie from the class of 2011. The visual effects are integrated startlingly well too, worlds removed from the the sloppy distractions I'm used to suffering through in genre flicks anymore.

For the rest of the kills, Final Destination 5 sticks to the same general playbook as part two, and I mean that in a good way. The brilliance of these two movies in particular is that they both setup 75,000 different ways things could go so gruesomely wrong, ratcheting up a hell of a lot of tension and suspense as we wait for the other shoe to drop. Obviously we know someone's gonna bite it in whatever scene's unspooling, but when? How? Given a choice between (a.) some nutjob in a hockey mask and (b.) a frayed electrical wire, a slow drip from an A/C unit overhead, a rickety high bar, and some nubile young chick flinging herself all over a balance beam with an upturned screw on one side...well, I mean, you can take a stab at guessing which one is gonna be the most fun to watch unfold. Even though I'd already caught Final Destination 5 back when it was in theaters and I knew how these kills were gonna play out, I was still on the edge
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of my seat and nipping at my fingernails. These are some of the most elaborately choreographed and depraved deaths in the entire franchise, and the scale of the kills coupled with a demented sense of humor manages to capture something the past couple movies couldn't quite latch onto. I kind of desperately want to get in-depth into how incredible the deaths are this time around, but I don't want to spoil any of the surprises, and...yeah, you won't see a lot of this coming. Same goes for the final twist which is genius and by far a series-best.

Once the carnage kicks off, Final Destination 5 screams ahead so quickly that you don't really have time to be bothered by its flaws. With a runtime clocking in under 80 minutes minus credits, there really isn't any time to waste. Most of the characters are pretty bland, yeah, but since the movie doesn't really get caught up in any pointless subplots, that doesn't matter so much. Final Destination 5 adds a potentially intriguing wrinkle into the mix -- the idea of someone committing murder to snatch the years from some other poor schlub's life -- but that's not as integral a part of the plot as it could've been. Do I really care, though? Not really. Final Destination 5 is a hell of a lot of fun. This is probably the only horror franchise still alive in theaters that's worth giving
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a shit about, and its fifth installment is about as great as the series has ever been. Part two is still the sentimental favorite, yeah, but this one's not lagging too far behind. I know a lot of you gave up on the series after The Final Destination a couple years back, and I can't say I blame you, but this...? Totally Highly Recommended.

Final Destination 5 looks pretty slick in high-def, sporting digital photography that's sharp, sleek, and nicely detailed. Because of that smooth, glossy sheen, I guess that means the AVC encode doesn't have to work quite so hard; despite a very lightweight bitrate, with the movie and its lossless soundtrack adding up to all of fifteen and a half gigs, I couldn't spot any sputters or stutters in the compression. The palette is slightly muted to reflect the ominous tone of Final Destination 5 without getting obnoxious about it, and contrast remains robust throughout. Not reference quality or anything but definitely a solid effort.

There's plenty of room to spare on this single-layer Blu-ray disc, for anyone keeping track at home, and Final Destination 5's theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1 has been preserved here. The second disc in the set is an anamorphic widescreen DVD. Apparently Best Buy has an exclusive 3D release of Final Destination 5, but I can't really review that right now.

Turns out...? A movie where a sprawling suspension bridge crumbles into ruin and giant cables whip around an' slice people in half and stuff sounds kind of amazing in 5.1. No, really, this 24-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack
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is great. The sound design is hyperaggressive throughout the kill sequences, taking full advantage of every channel at its disposal and unleashing a hellish amount of bass. Lower-key sequences still keep the surrounds chattering, tossing in stuff like a glass shattering against a wall and the hustle-'n-bustle of an upscale restaurant's kitchen. Dialogue is never left flailing around in the mix, consistently rendered cleanly and clearly. No gripes or anything this time around.

Also included are Dolby Digital 5.1 dubs in QuebeƧois French, Spanish, and Portuguese. Subtitles, meanwhile, are served up in English (SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Yeah, not much.
  • Final Destination 5: Circle of Death (6 min.; HD): This making-of featurette breezes through many of Final Destination 5's splattery kills, with a lot of emphasis placed on the practical makeup effects.

  • Visual Effects of Death (12 min.; HD): A pair of split-screen comparisons show off raw dailies -- before any color timing and with lotsa green screen all over -- and stacks them up against the polished footage from the movie. A few previz shots stand in for fully digital moments where necessary.

  • Alternate Death Scenes (16 min.; HD): Sixteen minutes of alternate death scenes sound like they'd be a lot more awesome than what's actually
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    delivered here. There are only two alternate kills, and the overwhelming majority of this footage is stuff you've already seen in the final cut. I guess it'd be too spoilery for me to spell out whose deaths are extended, but one of the more clever stings from the final cut is tossed out in favor of something a lot more obvious, and the most unsettling sequence hasn't really changed all that much. I think there's an extra bubbly pop, and it ends before the cacklingly depraved money shot. Both sequences are in HD but look really milky and washed-out.

In case you missed it a couple paragraphs up, the second disc in the set is an anamorphic widescreen DVD. There's also a code for an UltraViolet digital copy, and yeah, Final Destination 5 comes packaged in a glossy cardboard slipcover.

The Final Word
Look, I'm a card-carrying finaldestinationologist, so when I say that Final Destination 5 is a hell of a lot of demented fun and the best installment in the franchise since part two all those years ago, I know what I'm talking about. Yeah, I wish there were more extras, and yeah, it's dumb that only one store is selling the 3D version, but...whatever. You know you want it, so this Blu-ray disc still comes Highly Recommended.
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Highly Recommended

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