Final Destination made its debut in 2000, introducing the concept of death as horror movie menace. Instead of a burned child molester with knives for fingers, or a machete wielding maniac in a hockey mask – or any other physical supernatural or natural menace, death itself became the unseen but malevolent force correcting a glitch of fate. It was a neat enough idea brought to the screen by the James Wong and Glen Morgan, two creative forces responsible for co-producing The X-Files and Millennium on television, among other accomplishments. With a concept fitting of The X-Files universe, Wong and Morgan crafted the tale of a teen that has a vision of a plane crash that would kill him and his high-school friends. Acting on that vision, he and his buddies are ejected from the plane – it takes off without them, blows up, and the kids are freaked out but alive. But they should never have lived, and scene after scene is filled with death’s slight hand at play, correcting that bump in mortalities unending road, claiming the lives of the survivors as they try to outsmart and outlive the force death. The film was a surprise success and with four sequels (Final Destination 5 is in theaters now) has banked over a billion dollars in worldwide sales. The Final Destination sits comfortably, if unremarkably, in that successful series.
The Final Destination 3D
Studio: New Line Cinema
US Rating: Rated R for Strong Violent/Gruesome Accidents, Language and a Scene of Sexuality
Film Length: 82 Minutes
Video: MPEG4-MVC 1080P High Definition 16X9
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio English 5.1, Dolby Digital French (Dubbed in Quebec) and Spanish.
Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
Release Date: August 16, 2011
Review Date: August 16, 2011
“We just lost a really hot MILF”
The Final Destination begins as all of the Final Destination films do, with a tragedy. Attending a NASCAR-like racing track, Nick (Bobby Campo) along with his girlfriend Lori (Shantel VanSanten) and friends Hunt (Nick Zano) and Janet (Haly Webb) are having a reasonably good time, when Nick has a vision of a devastating crash and carnage which will leave him, his friends, and a swath of attendees in the stands with them dead. Naturally Nick is disturbed by his vision, and as the precursor moments to the tragedy begin to play out again, Nick freaks out, dragging his friends with him, pissing off a few others in the stands (a mechanic, a redneck, a MILF and a friendly security guard (played very well by Mykelti Williamson)), who find themselves just beyond the death zone when the furious crash is unleashed, killing everyone but them. They have seemingly escaped a terrible death. But it’s never quite that easy. Soon, Nick and his still troubled friends realize that the survivors are all dying in bizarre circumstances – and strangely, in the order Nick witnessed them die in his vision. Death – it seems – is going to get his one way or another.
The Final Destination was not, as its numberless sequel moniker would suggest – the last of the collection. A surprise $27.4MM opening weekend assured that death wouldn’t take a holiday just yet. The pleasure in the Destination films is the ferocity of the opening tragedy and the inventiveness of death’s manipulation of fate and fortune. Here’s where this fourth installment fractures. Final Destination 2 remains to this day the very best for its opening tragedy with a brilliantly sequenced wreck on a highway that – drawn out over several minutes – is abounding in thrilling sequences, deftly edited and unfolded. That’s missing here. The idea of setting the tragedy at a racetrack was a good one – ripe with options for crash carnage, 3D projectiles, and gruesome deaths – and to an extent that’s what we get – but it’s all too ludicrous to enjoy. The initial crash thrusts projectile tires into the stands, race car shrapnel flies past the camera and so on, but with each successive crash (as the drivers unavoidably add to the deadly pile up) everything is launched into the small section of the stands where the characters we will follow to their inevitable deaths are frantically trying to escape. An exciting crash descends into what appears to be nothing more than a track side catapult throwing ‘stuff’ at a few rickety seats. But the film gets back on track with some appropriately silly death traps, and the final sequence at a mall is pulled off nicely. Director David Ellis mercifully avoids the melodrama that can saddle teen-filled horror flicks. The pace is brisk with an 82 minute running time, and the elaborate lengths that death will go to pull the survivors into the land of the dead – augmented by C.G.I – are quite entertaining. Admittedly, some of the visual effects are dodgy, but the special gruesome make-up effects more than make up for it.
This 3D release of the film shows off the strength of the third dimension effect in the way that horror movies know how to do best. In a well calibrated home 3D set up (with quality glasses) – viewers may find themselves bobbing and weaving to avoid being impaled or decapitated. It’s all in good fun. Last year, James Cameron somewhat unfairly criticized the use of 3D in this kind of horror flick (lamenting its use in 2010’s Piranha 3D), perhaps fearing it would cast the 3D selling point once again under the shadow of dismissible gimmickry). I get his point, but aside from the pervasive sense of depth and increased dimension that 3D affords, the ‘cominatcha’ effect can be a big draw for many of the augmented experience’s fans – myself included (I had a blast back in the 90’s watching Freddy’s Dead – The Final Nightmare with some rickety anaglyph glasses for what was ostensibly a grand descent into the inner most nightmare of Freddy Krueger’s soul).
The plot for The Final Destination 3D is routine as expected. But that sense of familiarity provides the right beats – the right cadence for enjoying this type of popcorn horror flick as the tragedy, survival, discovery of death’s plan and the futile attempts to get one over on inevitability play out. The franchise hasn’t reached the point where it feels the need to add a major twist or evolve the conventions to keep things fresh. It happily hits the same points. It’s the same drive down the same road, but the types of views out the window are different enough to have fun with. Death has become a little more irascible and overt in fiddling with the tangible to take back what was rightfully his. These victims are just the dead alive – for a time at least until their moment comes to face the reaper. Playing with the audiences expectations, layering in enough near misses to raise the tension, has become the sauce in which we dip our sense of fun when watching these films, and so long as you don’t need original, you can certainly get good entertainment out of this film and its companions in the series.
3D implementation – 4.5/5
New Line Presents The Final Destination in both 2D and 3D. The image quality is very good, with plenty of fine detail, solid blacks and precious little unnatural tweaking of the image (DNR, etc). The color palette tends toward the popular desaturated look (though isn’t at all pronounced), but skin tones take a slightly paler look than natural. The look of this film is very slick (not scrubbed, but clean and precise); bold and bright – especially the blood!
Depth of field in this 3D presentation is excellent, likely afforded from having been filmed using the technology that James Cameron used for Avatar. As I mentioned in the body of my review, the 3D effect is terrifically used, with a consistently solid sense of depth and a playful use of objects coming out at the viewer. There was one moment in the film where some shimmering occurred, out the window from the coffee shop, where the striped side of a building stood out – but no other issues were noticed in my viewing.
Viewers can also select to watch the film in 2D as well.
The DTS-HD Master Audio option on New Lines’ The Final Destination is brutal; abounding with aggressive and bombastic audio effects, rumbling bass and potent LFE power, fruitful surround effects and an onslaught of powerful growls and booms at almost every turn (beyond the opening death salvo at the racetrack, the impending tragedy at the mall sequences contains some healthy audio dynamism). This is a loud but not clumsy audio for a film whose striking 3D and horror effects are true beneficiaries of the audio.
2 Alternate Endings (4:00): Available are two alternate endings (not in 3D), neither beat the ending chosen, but even without the music track of any sound effects, are entertaining if a little odd.
Body Count: The Deaths of The Final Destination – Deconstructing Key Death Scenes (22:01): Fairly brief behind-the scenes look that focuses on key sequences like the movie theater explosion and the projective engine block crushing death.
The Final Destination: Pre-Visualization and Storyboards: Select from the racecar crash and the mall explosion sequence to see the storyboards, pre-viz and visual effects work.
Deleted Scenes (7:16): A few snippets from scenes left in and more – with several from the explosive opening – that wouldn’t have added much if left in.
The Final Destination 3D is a far cry from original – with average performances and a weaker than hoped for opening destruction sequence, but it recovers with its playful carnage and clever use of the 3D effect. I should mention that the opening credits sequence, which plays like a Final Destination best hits – hinting at previous deaths through X-Ray-like visual effects is yet another clever arena for the third dimension.
For fans of the series, watching this in proper 3D (not the anaglyph or 2D version) will up the fun factor. Casual horror fans with a 3D set-up would do well to add this to their collections – all others, so long as your stomach can handle some pretty gruesome deaths and no-name teen actors trying to outwit death – this could happily become a member of your burgeoning 3D movie collection.
4/5 (not an average)