Monday, September 14, 2009

Just Mediocre Cinema: The Final Destination(include possible SPOILERS)

The fourth installment in the ever-popular Final Destination franchise, begun in 2000 with Final Destination, proves that even a strong, unique concept can become tired, formulaic, and boring with a cliched script, no expansion on the series' background, and nothing new brought to the table for even the most style-over-substance-driven aficiondos.

The basic premise of the franchise is that death, or Death if you prefer, literally stalk survivors of massive disaster scenerios that were not supposed to survive in the first place. Essentially, the series has a fatalistic tone, where everything one does to cheat death ends in nothing, as death will eventually claim you. I think part of the joke is that everyone will die anyway, because that is what we all share. So it makes you wonder...are the people in these movies trying to avoid simply a vicious and bloody death...or dodge death all together? That's one question that has not be brought up, although one positive thing in the latest film is explored...taking your own life. But, getting ahead of myself.

This film brings in the 3-D option that has become all the bells and whistles of late, started with My Bloody Valentine 3-D, a rousing good show that is a remake about a killer miner terrorizing a town(and a hot blond chick that was naked for 5 minutes!!! Definately MY cup of tea). In this film, while there are a rare good 3-D money-shot scattered here and there(like a man tripping on wooden bleaches and inpaled through the mouth by an upright-broken bleacher), i don't think it was used to its full advantage. Hell, i found the whole movie to be really lacking in the gore department...and I'm not even a gore hound! I'm not kidding, my imagination had more vicious and horrific scenerios than what I had seen in that flick.

Anyway, the film is about a young man named Nick O' Bannon(either a porn star or a pulp adventurer's name, lol), played by Bobby Campo, who attends a car race with some friends. The invisible, formless personfication of Death does its Rube Goldberg-thing, and soon, a horrific car crash happens... metal pieces slicing through folks like knives through sticks of butter, flaming tires turning people into paste, motors smacking folks through the head...the works. But, in the Final Destination tradition, it turns out to be a premonition. Nick, frightened by this foresight, Rube-Goldberg-style also, causes a disruption that has his friends and several others taken out of the stadium by a guard(George Lanter), only to have the terrible accident happen moments after they leave. A single tire slices through the air to take the head off of one of the girls...and the movie is off from the starting line.

The best part of this movie was the opening credits. They basically display various deaths of characters from the first three installments, in a diagram and skeleton form. After that, we have Nick, his girlfriend Lori Milligan(Shantel VanSanten), and his friends slowing trying to find out what is going on, as survivors of the accident are being killed. Just like in the other films, Nick receives premonitions, as symbols(like a door, a wooden cross, a truck crane, and sparks), that give him Sherlock Holmes-clues to how the other survivors will die. And just like other films, death(Death, "Death"?) hunts them down, dispatching survivors in ghastly, and often-times, funny ways.

And that's the problem with this film.

Nothing new is really brought to the table, and nothing is expounded on. Correction. One thing, and only one thing is new, and this is a SPOILER: The guard tries to hang himself, but he does not die. Is "Death" egotistical as well? This is never elaborated on. Nothing, in the FOURTH film of this FRANCHISE is expanded on. We never learn why humans receive these visions, or why death won't let a human take his or her own life. We never learn how long, in human history, this has been going on. There is also no elaboration on why the number 180(introduced in the first film) is so important in reference to death. Unlike the first two films, where the story is cultured and expanded on(such as the death "cheaters" of the first film's influence on the second film's survivors, truly cheating death through life in the second film), this film, as well as its predecessor, focuses on the elaborate death scenerios as opposed to continuing any story arc.

And even the deaths seem more cartoony than vicious, ghastly, and mind-numbing. I still hold Final Destination 2's car-pile-up as one of the most horrific scenes in horror film history. Compared to that, this film's car-race disaster was very tame. Hell, I say part 2 was the most brutal and bloody of the series thus far...while this latest offering seems to suffer from having slasher movie deaths that were too usual. It also doesn't help that many of the characters are cliched...the arrogant egotist pretty boy, the heroic Caucasian male main character, his virtous girlfriend, the token minority...again, nothing new or diffrent.

In the end, I give this film a C+. I give it this because, while the deaths made me chuckle a little(don't cut your eyes at me! It is a slasher film, after all), the lack of any story elaboration or progression, or expansion on the general concept takes it down a big peg. According to Wikipedia, this is supposely the last in the series; let's hope any subsequent revival expands on this truly unique concept.

Film Trailer:

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