Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: The Final Destination 3D D-Box Experience (2009)

The Final Destination
81 minutes
Rated R

By Scott Mendelson

Like any number of horror films that spawned a franchise of gore-cartoon sequels, the original Final Destination was a real movie. It was a genuinely frightening little fable about grief, loss, and predestination. It had characters worth caring about and worth mourning when the grim reaper eventually came to collect his due. What's shocking about this fourth entry is the series isn't that it is basically a clothesline for which to hang grotesque Rube Goldberg-esque death scenes, it's that the movie makes absolutely no attempt to disguise its snuff-film intentions. Unlike even the lesser, more cartoonish sequels, this one doesn't even pretend that it's a movie.

A token amount of plot - Four friends (whom we learn nothing about over the course of the film) are attending a Nascar racing event when one of them gets a vision of a horrifying crash and resulting fire that will occur moments from now. Ushering his confused friends out of the stadium, several others are pulled outside in the confusion and thus saved from a fiery and/or gruesome death. But in the days that follow, the fatefully spared are swiftly picked off one-by-one in seemingly random accidents. That's pretty much it. While the first and third films involved high school graduates dealing with new found feelings of mortality and the second involved professional adults caught in the inevitable web of death, this fourth entry involves... I have no idea. While a few of the would-be victims are given a token character trait (one is a busy mother of two young boys, two others are blue-collar laborers whose wives died in the stadium), our four main young adults are given not a single fact about them. We do not know if they are in high school or college, we do not know if they have jobs. We never meet their parents or anyone outside their personal circle. They are absolute stick-figures to be gruesomely picked off. Only Mykelti Williamson registers any sympathy or intelligence. As a recovering alcoholic who killed his wife and daughter in a drunk driving accident years earlier, Williamson's character gets the film's only new idea (that of a fated victim accepting and welcoming his demise). But even his arc goes off the rails and fails to pay off in any meaningful way.

So, fine, the film is a barely written skeleton on which to hang the series's trademark death scenes, that may not be an issue to the target audience. But outside of the opening race-track carnage (which itself isn't nearly as frightening as the previous films' opening massacres), the death scenes lack both invention and skill. Ironically, the 3D effects means that many of the death scenes involve merely cgi gore instead of the practical effects and stunt work that has been a franchise trademark. And worst of all, two of the most impressive set-ups turn out to be giant teases. The film out-and-out cheats in several places as life-saving equipment fails at one moment but works at another for no discernible reason. There is no rhyme or reason to the set pieces and the pay offs are pale imitations of the previous pictures.

Overall, the film itself is an abysmal nothing. The characters are blank slates, there is no real running narrative, and the death scenes aren't worth sitting through. Some of the 3D effects are fun, but they are relatively run-of-the-mill and the film looks gray, hazy, and cheap when viewed through the 3D glasses. Frankly, if not for the 3D gimmick, I imagine this would have gone straight to DVD under Warner's Raw Feed banner. This certainly feels like a cheaper, lazier variation on the long-running series. Finally, the D-Box gimmick is currently just that: a gimmick. Yes, it's fun when your chair gently shakes, vibrates, and rocks back and forth during scenes of violence and action, but the full potential of this technology is still far away. But The Final Destination is not worth seeing in any format under any circumstances.

Grade: D


Anonymous said...

So, Death save the WORST for 3D?


Anonymous said...

I saw the movie at Mann with 3D and D-Box and it was fun. The plot is not good but we had a good time!

Movie Links said...

Yeah it was quite good movie. I watched this movie few days before. There is always different feeling while watching movies with 3d

crucialtheguillotine said...

Pile of steaming shite!

crucialtheguillotine said...

Pile of steaming shite!


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