The Final Destination

Director    David R. Ellis
Starring    Mykelti Williamson, Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, Hayley Webb
Release    28 AUG (US) 28 AUG (UK)    Certificate 15
1 stars


31st August 2009

There's a simple formula to stick to when making a Final Destination movie. One: find yourself some young, unknown American TV actors. Two: one of them must have a gruesome vision of their own death, dragging their mates down with them. Three: they cheat death. Four: the ol' Grim Reaper starts picking them off one by one in various weird and wonderful ways. And if you fancy it, throw in some boobs. Roll credits.

This worked well enough for Final Destination that we were still interested when Final Destination 2 rolled around. But Final Destination 3 came with yawns - angry yawns - along with a tremendous sense of deja vu. So, where to go from here? Answer: stick to the exact same formula, but borrow some of James Cameron's fancy new 3D cameras.

[gallery]So, three sequels on and no budging on the template. There's the early premonition (by far the least exciting of the franchise - we're at a NASCAR track, hillbillies rejoice!) followed by the 'this is a bit odd but we can beat it' chat, closely followed by lots of death. But what made Final Destination 3 bearable was the originality and surprise of the deaths - all that blood kind of made up for the lack of plot.

The Final Destination, however, has an even weaker 'plot' with none of the deaths going down as Final Destination classics - we're being offered nothing new. One poor bloke even has his innards sucked from his arse through a swimming pool drainage system a la Chuck Palahniuk's Guts, but the movie bottles the money shot - Death, apparently, wants to spare us the gory details.

You get the feeling there's been very little effort involved in crafting an actual narrative - characters have names like 'George the Security Guard ' and 'The Racist'. Furthermore, the deaths have become increasingly inconceivable 'freak' accidents - a far cry from the seriousness of the original. There's never a discussion on how this is happening, let alone why.

David R. Ellis, returning for a second stab (no pun intended) at the franchise, does get a couple of things right - The Final Destination has the best opening credits of the series, paying homage to all the previous deaths in a very cool 3D X-ray style with blood and bone debris flying from the screen. He obviously liked the boobs in Part 3 so much that he thought he'd top it with a 3D sex scene. Ellis even managed to rope in Forrest Gump's shrimp-fanatical best friend Bubba, too. (Gah... straws... clutching...)

But despite the awesome opening and three-dimensional nudity, there are scenes that defy any reasonable logic and give the impression the writers knocked off early every day. Yes, we all know Death is stalking these kids, but he used to do it with style. Screws mysteriously undoing themselves? Flammable aerosol cans moving towards a waiting pair of hot hair straighteners? C'mon, these aren't accidents - the Grim Reaper is losing his touch.

In a franchise that is seemingly perfect for 3D, all it does is add a little extra fun to what is already a very formulaic franchise that can no longer surprise the tired audience. We get a few things flying towards us; a splatter of blood, the 'New Line Cinema' logo, but nothing less than you'd expect from the whole depressing experience. The only good thing about seeing The Final Destination in 3D? The trailer for Avatar.

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