24 January 2012

Final Destination Retrospective

What was it Matthew Lillard's character said in Scream... 'Cause Let's face it baby, these days, you gotta have a sequel.' That couldn't be truer when it comes to filmmaking these days. Lately it seems movies are made faster than we can even say sequel. Before one is even out and being viewed by an audience they're already working on the next one and before you know it, there's five of them. There's an old saying that goes "the more the merrier" and I suppose in certain situations that might fit but for film franchises it's usually not the case. I'll just go ahead and put it out there and you can dislike or hate me or call me crazy if you want, I promise it won't be anything new BUT...... I'm not a fan of the Saw films. Yes, they broke new ground and gave new life to what some people would call a dying genre and I most definitely appreciate that. I enjoyed the first film, I thought it was really good but they've made so many that the last one (I can't even remember what number they're on) was a cluster fuck of flashbacks referencing the films that preceded in order to make sure everything tied in together. Yawn! Want another confession?? Ok... I love the Scream franchise, all of them, even 3. I think they're fun. There, I said it. Judge me if you must....

It's been twelve years now since James Wong changed the face of horror by ironically bringing audiences a faceless killer.... DEATH him(or her)self. I loved this one. I thought it was an original idea with a cast strong enough to support a very well written script. The deaths were thoroughly thought out. Yes I know that tons of things would've had to go wrong for most of them to happen, but when it all came together, it seemed plausible enough. I admit I was skeptical when I first heard of this film. A bunch of teens cheat death and continue on with their lives until death comes calling once again, picking them off one by one. In fact, I never even bothered to get off my ass and go see it in the theater. Then when it finally hit DVD, I wasn't even the one that brought it home to watch it. I just figured it was another ho-hum film with a 20 something cast trying to act like teenagers. Once I finally sat down to watch it, I was pleasantly surprised and now I watch it every chance I get.

Final Destination 2 came three years later with Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) locked up in a psych ward and a new visionary that foresees the tragic event that will lead (in some way) to the death of many. This time around Death has a different design and a new reason (yes, Death does have reason) for the impending tragedy. With David Ellis at the helm, a new set of writers and a bigger budget one would assume you'd get more thrills and chills but as with most sequels it paled in comparison to the first. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this one too but it didn't seem to have the same "reach out and grab ya" as the first one did. It also had the one death in the entire series that didn't make sense to me. In all the deaths, there are a progression of ironic events that lead to each death like a woman getting her hair caught in something or a cigarette igniting a fire BUT, when things started moving and closing on their own, I had to call bullshit. Still, I can overlook it because it's well written, has a strong cast and it's definitely a fun film.

Fast forward another three years, bring back James Wong and Glen Morgan and throw in a defective roller coaster and you've got yourself another installment of Death gone bad. Being the third in a series I always assume they'll get progressively worse as they go along but I was pleasantly surprised when I saw this one. The roughest part to get through is, believe it or not, the beginning. There's so much CGI that in my opinion wasn't very well done that it distracts from the events taking place. Once it gets going, it never really slows down and in the end, it turns out to be the goriest FD of the bunch. Definitely made me think twice about working out. It's also the first to introduce the double vision story line. Yep... twice the fun!! Sadly, other than a voice over, it's also the first one of the series that doesn't include and appearance by the great Tony Todd :( All things considered, it's a solid film with good acting and a decent script, nothing over the top fan'freakin'tastic but again, it's a fun film that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Skip ahead another three years (anyone see a pattern here?), switch directors AGAIN and you've got what is without a doubt the worst film in the franchise. Released in 3D with the same premise as the one before THE Final Destination is a mere shadow of the previous three. The acting was horrible, the deaths were laughable and the writing was such a joke that my brain immediately did a disconnect and rebelled on the entire franchise. It seems everyone involved got distracted by the elements of 3D that they didn't focus on anything other than making it look like tires and rocks were gonna smack you in the face. About half way through, I contemplated stabbing my TV with scissors to see if 3D worked in reverse because I wanted them all dead right then. I didn't want to have to sit through another 40 minutes of it. Granted it was the same premise as the others but it was like they didn't even try. This is a classic case of a film trying to cash in on the 3D craze and that's it. It's like a bunch of people sat around and tried to craft the deaths around 3D and forgot about the story entirely. The only thing that would make me dislike this even more is if I had to sit through it again.

Which brings me to the most recent installment. Final Destination 5... wow, five already? Because of the homicidal feelings 4 brought out in me, I didn't even want to see this one. I kept thinking if 4 was that bad, 5 is really gonna suck balls. In fact, when my 16 year old saw it in the theater she came home raving about how great it was so I had her tell me all about it. I honestly had no intentions of sitting down and watching it at any point and time. Skip ahead to the DVD release and I gave in and brought it home. By the time I got around to it, I'd completely forgotten that she told me all about it. This film was way (and when I say way I mean WAAAAAAAAAAY) better than the one before it. I'd even go so far as to say it gave the original a run for it's money (yep I went there). It was darker than any of the others and very reminiscent of the original which is a good thing. The formula is the same but the twists are much different. The writing is solid, the acting is bulletproof, the CGI is top notch and even Tony Todd is back and has been promoted to Coroner Bludworth. Let's not forget about that ending... O-M-G!! I was speechless (and that's not an easy task)! Fun, fun and more fun!!

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