DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: The Final Destination - in 3-D

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ken_McAlinden, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer

    Feb 20, 2001
    Likes Received:
    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden
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    The Final Destination - in 3-D

    Directed By: David R. Ellis

    Starring: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Mykelti Williamson,Nick Zano, Haley Webb, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella, Justin Welborn

    Studio: Warner/New Line

    Year: 2009

    Rated: R

    Film Length: 82 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 2.4:1

    Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

    Release Date: January 5, 2010

    The Film *

    In The Final Destination, Nick (Campo) has a lucid vision of impending disaster while attending a stock car race with his girlfriend Lori (VanSanten) and their friends Hunt (Zano) and Janet (Webb). Awaking from his daydreamed vision, he begins to see the events leading to the massively fatal crash play out in real life, panics, and insists that they all leave. This causes a disruption that ultimately prevents the deaths of Nick, his friends, and a handful of other people that were killed in his premonition including a redneck racist (Welborn), a vain soccer mom (Allen - lowbrow amusingly credited in the closing scroll as "MILF/Samantha"), a mechanic (Fiscella) , and a security guard with a tragic past (Williamson). Initially relieved and stunned, Nick and Lori discover via news reports that a number of the survivors who would have died if not for Nick's intervention are becoming victims of bizarre deaths by misadventure. These deaths occur after Nick is plagued with a vision hinting at their circumstances, and seem to be happening in the order that the people would have died in Nick's original racetrack vision. Nick and Lori begin a race to alert the future potential victims and break the chain of fate/death that seems to be leading inexorably towards them.

    Horror sequels as a rule have never been known for their originality and groundbreaking reinventions of the form, but the "Final Destination" series still manages to establish itself as the lowest of the low-effort horror film series.  Since its main antagonist is an un-personified fate that takes the form of several Rube-Goldberg-like deathtraps and its thematic thrust is usually that there is no escape from death, the sequels can pretty much just hit the reset button and let the same plot play out with a different mix of young actors meeting their demises in differently staged ways.  This was generally the case with the second and third entries in the series and is even more so the case with this fourth entry, which feels like they handed a treatment of the first film to a special effects team and ask them to run a "find and replace"  word processor function on all of the death scenes and character names.

    Since the films do not aspire to be anything more than variations on a theme, fans of the genre/series can only assess them relatively based on the creativity of their gruesomely staged death scenes, the suspense generated by their fake-out "near miss" scenes, and the capabilities of the assembled ensemble of actors.  On the former count, The Final Destination stacks the deck by applying the 3-D process.  The death scenes are staged in such a way as to provide ample opportunity to employ a variety of 3-D "gags".  Some of them are creative, but most of them are pretty ridiculous.  Fans of the laws of physics are bound to be disappointed.

    When it comes to the ability to generate suspense and the actor's abilities to make the audience care, the film falls flat.  The screenplay is so lazily assembled that Nick and Lori figure out the relationship between his premonitions and the series of accidental deaths by "googling it".  The only character in the film that the screenplay even tries to develop is Mykelti Williamson's security guard who is given a backstory involving alcoholism and a tragic accident.  Other than that, actors playing one-note cartoonish character parts such as Nick Zano's arrogant hedonist, Justin Welborn's old school racist, and Krista Allen's amusingly vapid soccer mom tend to completely overshadow the nominal leads who are supposed to be carrying the movie.

    The screenplay does them no favors by making the characters continuously do and say stupid things. Scenes intended to be suspenseful are undermined by characters who ignore potentially life saving warnings from others despite plenty of evidence that it would be a good idea to heed them.  Rather than dreading/anticipating their impending demise, the viewer is more inclined to want it to come sooner.

    The Video ***½ (2-D) ????? (3-D)

    The Final Destination is presented in two separate 16:9 enhanced widescreen presentations at its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1. The first is a standard "flat" 2-D presentation, and the second is an anaglyph 3-D presentation. Each presentation is afforded its own side of a double-sided single-layered DVD-10 "flipper" disc. The "flat" presentation is a big improvement over many of the Warner theatrical new-release titles I have seen recently, with much of the film having a solid film-like quality free of digital artifacts. It is not without its problems, though, with occasional instances, such as an early shot where the camera pushes in to a can of motor oil that tips over to contribute to the opening car crash sequence, where video compression artifacts become suddenly very prominent. The contrast frequently seems a little bit artificially pushed, which may have something to do with an effort to brighten things up to make foreground and background elements more distinct for the 3-D process.

    The anaglyph 3-D presentation is, as always, difficult to assess for video quality since any pretense of proper color and contrast are inherently abandoned from the get-go. All I will say is that the 3-D "gags" register pretty well, and since they are the only reason to watch this film over any other entry in the series, this color-hobbled presentation is the preferred viewing option. Those who are prone to headaches/eyestrain from watching anaglyph 3-D will be relieved that the film runs only about 76 minutes minus the credits sequence.

    The Audio ****½

    The English Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is presented at a bitrate of 384 kbps. It is a very active and dynamic mix that effectively extends the 3-D philosophy of the visuals into the audio domain. Despite the modest bitrate, fidelity is pretty solid throughout with only a slight drop off in scenes where all 5.1 channels are actively engaged. No alternate language audio tracks are included on either version of the film.

    The Extras **

    All of the extras and promos are presented on the side of the disc with the "flat" 2-D version of the movie.

    When the viewer first spins up the disc, they are greeted with the following series of skippable promos. All are presented in 4:3 video, letterboxed when appropriate, with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound unless otherwise indicated below:
    • Warner Blu-Ray Promo (16:9 enhanced video - 1:43)
    • Whiteout DVD/BD Trailer (2:06)
    • Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths Animated DTV Trailer (1:18)
    • Anti-Smoking PSA that parodies Mountain Dew and energy drink commercials (1:03)
    • Halo Legends Animated DTV Trailer(2:08)
    • Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series Animated DTV Trailer(1:02)

    The only on-disc special features are a collection of Deleted Scenes (7:17). They are presented in 4:3 letterboxed video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound. A lot of these scenes are alternate versions of scenes in the movie. They are generally less extreme and, perhaps more importantly, feature less prominent 3-D "gags" compared to the versions used in the final film.
    • SC 20 Race Track - is a five second insert of a woman being killed by a piece of fence
    • SC 22 Race Track - is an alternate take of the envisioned death of the mechanic character played by Andrew Fiscella. Two stuntmen had to be lit on fire for this version, so I supposes its inclusion as a deleted scene is partial compensation for their pyro antics not being used in the finished film.
    • SC 24 Race Track - is an additional 10-11 seconds of lethal race track mayhem with multiple deaths of anonymous stunt performers.
    • SC 35 Nick & Lori's Apt. - features additional dialog in the scene after the racetrack accident where they discuss not playing it safe anymore, ditching their job plans, and backpacking through Europe.
    • SC 82 Grandstage Garage - is a minor alternate take of a characters death outside of a mechanic's garage
    • SC 99 Pool - is another alternate take of the death of a character that makes a bit more sense than the highly unrealistic version that was used in the final film.
    • SC 120 Street - is a scene where a character tempts fate by crossing a busy intersection without regard for traffic.
    • SC 124 George's House - is a nonsensical scene where yet another character who thinks he has "broken the chain" of fate/death decides that he needs to prove it by attempting suicide.
    • SC 126 George's House - is a scene where George delivers a soliloquy to two other characters about how they should use their "second chance" at life.


    Even though text on the back of the package erroneously indicates "dual-layer format", the disc is actually a double-sided/single layered DVD-10 "flipper". It is packaged in an Amaray-sized "Eco-box" case. The hard case is in turn covered by a cardboard slipcase which reproduces the art of the hard case with lenticular 3-D enhancements. Interior inserts include two pairs of cardboard 3-D glasses with red film for the left eye and greenish-blue for the right as well as a sheet with the code necessary to unlock a digital copy of the 2-D version of the film.  The digital copy is both iTunes and Windows Media friendly, but is not included on the disc itself and requires downloading over a broadband connection.

    Summary *

    The Final Destination is a lazy sequel that offers little beyond an abbreviated re-hash of its predecessors save for the use of the 3-D process. Video quality of the 2-D presentation is solid and marred only by some slightly odd looking (but possibly consistent with filmmaker intent) contrast manipulation and infrequent but noticeable compression artifacts. With the 3-D process being almost literally all the film has to offer fans of the series, the anaglyph 3-D presentation is the preferred viewing option despite its inherent color and contrast problems. Truth be told, other than fans who are absolute completists when it comes to dead teenager and/or 3-D gimmick movies, the real preferred option would be no viewing at all.   The 5.1 surround sound mix on both versions of the film is impressively dynamic and dimensional. Extras consist of a set of deleted and/or alternate scenes, some of which reveal how key moments in the film were re-staged to further exploit the 3-D process as well as a code to download an iTunes or Windows Media digital copy of the 2-D version of the film.


  2. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

    Nov 15, 2004
    Likes Received:
    The basement of the FBI building
    1 star for the movie? Having seen it, I can say that you're being kind.
  3. Jesse Skeen

    Jesse Skeen Producer

    Apr 24, 1999
    Likes Received:
    Death to anaglyph! It looked like crap in 1982, and it still looks crappy now!

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