Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Final Destination review

Happy Horror Movie Season to all! This is my review of Final Destination 4, er, I mean, The Final Destination, which is a completely different title from Final Destination.

So let's get that cleared up right away. There's nothing final about this iteration in the franchise. There was no reason to call it The Final Destination, except perhaps to convince people that they might as well see it if it's going to be the last one. Well, Death only knows if this is really the last one.

To no one's surprise, this movie is essentially identical to the previous three. The style, the story, and the characters have no significant differences in any Final Destination (FD) movie. So why bother making more? Well, the true answer is that as long as they can think of ways to kill people, people will fork over their money to see it.

The supposed big draw of FD4 is that it's in 3-D. This was my first experience seeing a movie in 3-D, and to be honest, it was a lot better than I expected. Aside from the obvious gimmick, the 3-D effect adds noticeable depth to the scenes. I am surprised to say that I think putting it in 3-D was worthwhile. My only complaint is that it's clear that some effects were done specifically to take advantage of the effect, rather than for any purpose within the story. Some of the kills would have been more effective if it didn't seem like this character was killed in this way just to show a 3-D view of the gore. On the other hand, there are a few moments where the added depth really does add something worthwhile to the experience. A good example is the car wash scene shown in the trailers. The scene's depth really gives an improved feeling of being trapped. In future films, this effect has the potential to create a disturbing realism to such scenes.

Now, let's talk about the movie itself. FD4 is the most emotional film in the franchise. I say this as a compliment to it, but unfortunately, it isn't saying much. As usual, there's never a strong sense of the true terror of death looming over you, nor the agony of watching and waiting for someone you love to be killed in an imminent freak accident. Even so, this one does have a few emotional moments that add some much-needed flavor to the series. Let's hope they can take this much further in Final Destination 5: Another Final Destination.

But of course, people only go to these movies to see people die in the most clever ways possible. The kills in this movie are a mixed bag of cringe-inducing, funny, and just ridiculous. Some of them don't seem to know if they're supposed to be funny or disturbing. I recall a few times when we were shown a rather disturbing scene, which was immediately followed by something humorous. Mixing humor and horror is nothing new to the FD series, but it's too abrupt in a few cases to be effective.

FD4 doesn't have the most clever kills in the series, but some of them are fun to watch, assuming you're into that sort of thing.

I applaud this movie for keeping to the style without being horrible after four movies, and for the few innovations, most notably the (mostly) good use of the 3-D technology. The downside, which I think is huge, is that it still sticks too strongly to the formula set up in the original FD. The characters, story, story structure, deaths, and just about everything else are all the same. If this franchise is to continue, it needs some significant changes, if only to make each installment different from the last. It can stagnate at a decent level for as long as the studio lets it, but it has the potential to be much better. But of course, if you found that you enjoyed all three of the others, as I did, then you will enjoy FD4 just as much and for all the same reasons, as I did.

Caius's rating: 2 stars

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