When the first Final Destination was conceived, I doubt the makers had any idea of the strangely compelling and freakishly entertaining fringe benefits its concept provided. That not only do you have simple horror, but the concept itself creates such ghoulish humor, and the films keep you buoyed on this anticipation of violence and the amusement of seeing the numerous dangerous elements that could cause it to be unleashed. They tried to end the series with the last film, but it's still just too amusing (and profitable) to drop. They did, however, seem to realize that the execution was teetering on the verge of weariness, and smartly gave us more of a plot and appealing characters to follow this time around.
We open with a lovely credit sequence in which objects that killed people in the first four movies come flying at the camera, then break though panes of glass, sending shards flying at the camera in delightful 3-D. It's kind of pretty and hypnotic to watch. We then meet our cast of characters, the employees of a Portland paper mill, assembling to depart for a team-building retreat. We have Sam, who is broken up with by his girlfriend Molly. We have Peter--played by Miles Fisher, who should immediately be cast as brother to Tom Cruise or Christian Bale, as he looks quite like both of them--who is dating an intern at the company, Candice. We set up various other characters and situations, then, everybody on the bus!
The form of these movies also provides a big action set-piece right up front, in this case the collapse of a massive bridge. One has cause to marvel at the current state of special effects as the whole thing looks marvelously realistic, and the director makes good use of the 3-D with compositions that show the bridge falling away to reveal the water far in the distance below. We see several characters meet gruesome deaths (gore is NOT downplayed, but reveled in), and suddenly we're back on the bus, moments before the action, as Sam realizes it was a premonition and gets several people off the bus. As in the previous film, the real bridge collapse only takes a few seconds, as opposed to its detailed version in Sam's premonition.
So the survivors are all wigged out, and made more so by the presence of series regular Tony Todd, who became a horror icon after Candyman. He implies that they're all next on the chopping block, then after a new character moments, we're on to our first death!
Poor Candice is the first victim, in what I consider to be the film's best, most squirm-inducing and ultimately funny scene, set in a gymnasium where young women are practicing gymnastics. We start to see all the various elements that could turn deadly--a loose screw from an overhead air conditioner, a fan with a frayed cord, a water leak, a loose parallel bar--and it becomes a little funny as you're racking up all these little, potentially fatal items. I actually couldn't watch as we saw Candice do her routine, just waiting for her to step on a little screw lying on the bar. This scene ends up being a classic of the series in directing your attention one way, then having it suddenly unfold in an unexpected way--one that is so surprising and violent that it can only elicit a huge laugh.
As the movie unfolds we have a bit more development of character than we usually do, helped by the fact that all these people work together, so we aren't jumping around between a bunch of unrelated characters, as in previous installments. One less fortunate character development is to have one character who is named Isaac and is coded Jewish, then have him rifling through the drawers of the deceased to steal their loose change and gift certificates. Hopes were raised by the trailer showcasing a laser eye surgery sequence, but I actually found it less squirm-inducing than the gymnasium scene. From here on people die at regular intervals, as the survivors try to figure out what's going on and if there's any way to escape.
These movies always introduce some new wrinkle that provides the characters some hope of escaping the pattern, which also gives them something to do, and thus momentum to the movie, because otherwise they'd just sit around waiting to die. This time it's the idea that if they kill someone else, they will "get" that person's life. It doesn't amount to that much, but it gives them something to do.
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At the very end, our two supposed survivors get on a plane to Paris. We see a plane ticket and realize that they are on the very plane that exploded in the first film, making this a prequel of sorts. Does it really add anything? Not really, but you have to admit that this series tips its hat to the series' followers by including all these references to the previous films. Before the end credits, we have a little greatest hits sequence of the notable deaths from earlier films, serving no purpose but to get you riled up before leaving the theater.
SPOILERS END > > >
Well, it did what it was supposed to do, and did it well. Last time around I liked the movie, but felt that the series was starting to show a little fatigue, and needed goosing up. Well, they've done it, giving us a bit more of a plot, adding a new wrinkle, and developing these characters a bit more. But it's still kind of the same thing, and there's only so much it can do to avoid the feeling we've been here before. Contrast with the Resident Evil movies, also a super-fun guilty pleasure, but notice that in those movies they are able to provide variety by having the characters travel to different settings and encounter diffent situations. Here, they have a great concept, but it is a bit more limited. But whatever, I'm still in line for number six. Bring it on!
Sure, if you like this series, this one may be the best.