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Settling down to see what films were new to Sky Premier over the weekend, I noticed Final Destination 5. Being of an age when the first Final Destination was released when I was 17 in 2000, I have made an effort to watch the follow ons, even though it's not something I would really chose to watch as a 'nearly 30' year old, I feel somewhat committed!
So, when I saw that this film was on Sky Premiere and there was nothing else really on, I settled down to watch it (in the dark of course). For those of you who aren't aware what Final Destination is, it has a basic premise which is duplicated through all 5 films. It follows a group of American friends, in college, etc, who while on some kind of trip together one of the teens will have a premonition that they will all die one by one in horrific and gruesome ways, due to an accident of some kind. In the first film it was of course the plane crash, but this catastrophe happens when the group go on a team building weekend with work and on the way a suspension bridge happens to collapse. When the main character wakes from his premonition he urges his friends to get off the bridge in order to survive. There are a few grizzly deaths along the way and a set few survive. It's not until the survivors start to die in the order they did in the premonition that they realise that you can't intervene with fate.
This is such an easy watch and is extremely gory in a Saw kind of way, without a crazed madman to blame. I think that's why the first few original films were so successful as it was a relatively new concept, a horror movie without a killer as such. But does it still work 5 movies in? I'm not 100% sure, it's not the worst film I've ever seen (The Human Centipede springs to mind!), but it's most definitely not the best. It keeps you guessing as you wonder how the next one will die. One scene that springs to mind, in which you think you absolutely know how the poor girl will meet her maker, is in a gym hall with lots of gymnasts flying about all over the place doing their thing. A faulty air conditioning unit on the ceiling rattles away and eventually a screw falls on to the bar where she is flipping in the air and somersaulting, then some water drips near a wire. What happens next was so quick and absolutely gross, but as it wasn't what the viewer was expecting you kind of stare at the TV! Or I did anyway! That scene was gruesome!
There are some twists in the film, and the good old 'kill or be killed' concept of cheating death by making someone else take your place, makes an appearance in one of the final scenes. Again, not original, this was done in the other films. The first film is referenced in the very last scene and in quite a clever way, however I can remember the first film and the timings are wrong. This won't make sense until you watch it, but it really niggled me!
The CGI is great in places, okay in others. But with a $40million budget and no big names to the cast (except perhaps Tony Todd from Candyman, who was in all the others except for FD 4), I would say that the majority of the budget was spent on CGI so perhaps should have been slightly better given the amount. The film looks weirdly dated in places and I couldn't work out why until I realised that the film is actually set in 2001 and so the technology etc. represents what it would have been like 10 years ago, and why these trendy kids are walking around with bricks for phones instead of iPhones!
I watched the film on Sky, but for anyone thinking of buying the DVD it has been confirmed that it holds two alternative deaths which given that that's what the whole film is about, I think is pretty good. One thing that I hadn't noticed with any of the other films is when the credits roll, there is a montage of some of the worst deaths in all the previous 4 films. I know they weren't all of them, as the cheesy drowning in the carwash scene (from 3?) wasn't included, but I quite liked this. It's almost like a how many horrific deaths can we show in 30 seconds kind of thing.
I guess the whole concept of the franchise aims to show just how fragile life is and how such an everyday object can end a life. It is quite frightening, but so far-fetched that you have to take it with a pinch of salt. Some of the deaths are references to real events and the collapse of the suspension bridge is actually a reference to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in Washington which collapsed in 1940.
If you want to watch the film with a bit more effort there are lots of signs and things to look out for throughout the film, including references to famous horror directors in the characters names, the number 180, and the reference to the word Presage (Presage Paper where the group work) which means 'a sign or warning that something, typically something bad, will happen'.
If like me you feel committed to the franchise because you were of an age to follow the original first few then I would say give it a try. It will probably appeal to teens who are just starting to watch horrors for the first time, but for everyone else, you will probably see straight through the gimmicks and see it as a fairly unsophisticated horror which needs to move over now and make way for the big boys.
At just over 90 minutes, it's not the end of the world if you watch it and hate it.
*A word of warning to anyone with laser eye surgery booked in.... Please please do not watch this film!
Just about everybody knows the plot of the Final Destination movies, and that's because they're all the same. However, for some reason, they are still highly entertaining and widely watched as the writers introduces more and more gruesome ways in which for the characters to die. I believe the reason Final Destination movies are so terrifying is because they turn perfectly normal, day to day objects or events into murder weapons. Whilst the deaths are highly improbable, they are not impossible, and so these movies still retain a sense of realism which is what makes the audience tick.
This time, Death is after a group of co-workers who are saved from dying on a collapsing bridge when Sam Lawton has a premonition of the event before it happens. Of course, this group was never meant to survive and they're about to picked off one by one, in the most unsuspecting manner, unless if they can figure out a way to save themselves and evade Death.
I recognised many of the actors cast in Final Destination 5; however, none of them were of great enough recognition for me to actually remember any of their names. Miles Fisher, who has an uncanny likeness to Tom Cruise, played his smarmy, agitated, 'boss' role perfectly, and I love it when characters like him get killed off because there's a certain feel of 'he had it coming'. The main character, Sam, is played by Nicholas D'Agosto, who encapsulates his role as someone who is perfectly sane despite what he says is insane. He has quite an innocent appearance and so you greatly sympathise with him and the troubles thrust upon him. As in all Final Destination films, many of the characters are incredibly annoying, especially as they realise that it's every man for himself in the face of Death. It takes a certain skill to act an annoying, self absorbed, dense character without over doing it so I think the cast was made up of some pretty talented actors.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to watch this in cinemas in 3D; however, it was fairly obvious to me that it would've looked great in cinemas as certain shots were spectacularly disgusting. I'm quite a big horror movie fan; however, some of the scenes in this movie made me flinch and squirm, so this definitely isn't one for the squeamish or faint-hearted! I think the CGI animator deserves a round of applause for making the blood look realistic because it is so easy for horror films to turn into comedies because of poor use of CGI which ultimately results in what I like to call, the Ketchup effect.
Whilst the latest instalment of the Final Destination series is 'number 5', it is in fact, a prequel to the first Final Destination movie made. This was probably the best and worse part of this movie for me. I was absolutely mind blown when I found this out, firstly because it was quite surprising and there was nothing to suggest this at any point during the movie, secondly, because something about it just didn't add up. That night, my friend and I stayed up until 3a.m. trying to figure out how on earth this could possibly be the 'first' Final Destination movie given that the characters seemed to have heard of events similar to theirs already. But how could this be possible if this was the 'first' movie?! I still haven't figured this out. There was also an unexplained figure who frequently appeared to warn the characters of Death. His appearance and disappearance was never explained properly and his character just confused me - I still haven't figured out who he was either.
Personally, I feel that this was the best out of the Final Destination movies. The screenplay was fantastic with realistic shots of blood flying everywhere. The ways the characters died were original and scarier than ever because prior to watching this one probably wouldn't think these things were even dangerous. I'd definitely recommend this if you've watched the others and liked them, and also if you're a horror movie fan. You don't need to have watched the previous movies to understand this one as they are all stand-alone films.
Warning: Prepare for what you thought was normal and safe to be destroyed.
Having watched previous Final Destination flicks and really enjoying them, I was quite looking forward to seeing this at the cinema. I love horrors and thrillers, though to me this series is quite 'fun' in the sense that yes I find it quite cliché, predictable and laughable. But that's why I like it, and the 5th instalment didn't let me down.
We're introduced to a group of co-workers who are travelling together by bus when they cross a suspension bridge and things start to go horribly wrong. The bridge collapses bit by bit, the road caves in, killing many of those unfortunate to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, the first time this happens it doesn't really happen, it's a premonition, as those who have seen Final Destination would have guessed.
The premise after this premonition is very much in tandem with previous films in the series. Can the premonition guy convince his other co-workers of the danger in time to save their lives? He does, but unfortunately that's the point where he changes fate, and death doesn't take kindly to those that slip out of its grasp. One by one, the group of surviving co-workers meet their fate.
I saw this at the cinema in 3D and it really was a 'made for 3D' movie. This applied particularly well to the opening title sequence and I felt it was done with really good effect. If you're not watching it in 3D, is it still worth watching? I'm a sucker for Final Destination; yes it's been done and each film is a repeat of the last except for the methods of death, but it's fun. This film was no different. It offered plenty of new, grim contraptions and ways of being killed, each being fairly believable and adding to the tension. Having said that, it doesn't really matter if you've not seen one of the previous 4 films before as this can be watched without background knowledge, and it really doesn't require much thought to enjoy because it's easy to watch.
The overall quality of the film was good; it didn't feel rushed or too tacky, and even though the acting could have been better, I didn't feel this really distracted from the enjoyment of the flick. The cast includes P.J Bryne, Emma Bell, Nicholas D'Agosto, Miles Fisher and Dovid Koechner amongst others. They're not necessarily recognisable names, but they played their roles well enough to give the film the edge and cult sense of it being a Final Destination film. The film kept a good pace too, so there weren't moments of boredom and I don't think there were too many filler aspects; it was get-up-and-go from start to finish, making it engrossing and entertaining to watch quite easily.
When the film finished I felt like it was money well spent. I don't get scared by these films and didn't really find anything 'scary' or 'jumpable', even though I heard gasps from others in the cinema. I did, however, laugh a fair bit, so overall it met my expectations. There's plenty of gore for horror fans, suspense for thrill seekers, and creativity for Final Destination fans.
Due for release December 2011, pre-order from Amazon for £9.99.
Rated Certificate 15 for scenes of 'gore'.
Film only review
I love the "Final Destination" franchise. Many will derive pleasure from berating it for its increasing lack of character or story development. However, when a film series is as inventive with its set pieces as the Destinations have been, who are we to complain. Add to this the fact that it uses the 3d premise in the way that it was intended, I fail to see why most cinema go-ers wouldn't get some pleasure out of them. WARNING: The gore factor has been upped once more - if you don't have the stomach for blood, you would be best to avoid this one.
Much like its four predecessors, Final Destination 5 starts out with a lengthy premonition. This time, the setting is a suspension bridge (previously the premonitions have included a plane crash, a motorway pile up, a train crash, a roller coaster derailment, and most recently, a surprisingly effective race course explosion in gruesome 3d). This time round, the guys and gals from a university are off on retreat of some sort. Parked on a busy bridge, the lead character see's himself and his travelling companions impaled, dropped from great heights and killed in a great many other fanciful ways. Of course, this being the early premonition of the movie, he is able to save himself and a handful of other would-be victims. Death doesn't like to be cheated though.
The norm in these films is that the saver and the saved die off in elaborate ways in the order that they should have died in the original accident. I wont give anything away, but that idea is slightly turned on its head here to give us a little diversion from the usual Destination plot. There is also a neat little tack-on with this film that will make fans of the series gasp as they realise what is actually unfolding. Tony Todd makes the only return to the series, having only had a bit part or a voice-over in past films. His role is a little meatier this time as he provides the narrative to events for the teenage slaughterhouse.
Final Destination 5 may be more of the same, given that it has virtually the same plot device as every other Final Destination film thusfar. They all start with a premonition, take us through elaborate deaths of its main survivors, and finish with some near-twist that suggests that nobody can really escape death. However, these films buck the trend of teen horror films by actually looking good and cranking up the excitement levels. Believe it or not, this one even manages to chuck in a few surprises, a difficult feat five films into a series with only one thread.
Performances range from bland to notoriously bad. In the beginning, the teens at least had some acting chops, but the need for bigger breasts and more air heads have ensured that the makers have gone down the route of dumb teens who only serve as good looking death fodder. Nicholas D'Agosto takes on the lead role, and is just about effective as the leader of the pack. Compare him with original series survivor Ali Larter though and I doubt he'll have anything remotely approaching her television or film profile in ten years.
Really what Final Destination 5 has in its favour is that its colourful, exciting, briskly paced and delivers exactly what it says on the tin. I don't know how much more they can squeeze out of the series, but its been a fun ride up until now.
Right; straight in and no messing with this one. After four previous films, you know the drill. Bunch of teenagers escape from a major disaster in which they were meant to die when one of them has a premonition. Not one to be cheated lightly, Death comes after them and ensures they meet a sticky demise in a variety of unlikely and entertaining ways so that the wrinkle in reality (their survival) can be ironed out. This formula has (mostly) worked so far, do you think Hollywood is likely to change a winning formula? Yeah, right.
Which is why Final Destination 5 is OK, but slightly disappointing: although it's still fun to try and work out how each of the characters is going to die, it lacks any sense of novelty or freshness. The innovative, unlikely death sequences are pretty much the only reason to watch this film and on the evidence of Final Destination 5, the Imagination Well is starting to run rather dry.
Many of the deaths in FD5 are rather tepid when compared with previous entries in the series. Earlier death sequences relied on five or six different and unlikely coincidences coming together to deliver one final killer blow, as well as lots of red herrings mis-direct the viewer. In Final Destination 5, the death sequences are much more straightforward, often based on just a couple of coincidences. The elaborate set-ups of previous films are mostly gone and this leaves the whole thing feeling slightly disappointing.
Indeed, the most elaborate and imaginative deaths actually occur in the opening set-piece (a dream in which the main character sees the bridge his bus is travelling on collapse, killing everyone on board). The effects and the manner of some of the deaths seem to bode well for later in the film, but this early promise is never really delivered on.
The best death sequence is probably the first (a brilliantly drawn out affair surrounding a screw, a gymnast and ending in a wince-inducing, if unlikely, death). After that it's not exactly all downhill - there are still plenty of enjoyable moments - but FD5 never quite lives up to the imagination you expect from the series. Instead, there is a greater reliance on gore to shock.
Some of the deaths also feel a little rushed. With eight corpses to create and a running time of just 92 minutes, some characters are killed off with slightly indecent haste and in pretty obvious ways (there's one very rushed death you will see coming a mile off). On the plus side, this does overcome one of the difficulties I had with the third film which was that the deaths were too drawn out and the space between them filled with clunky dialogue and plot exposition.
Such plot as exists is not exactly subtle about where it's heading and fans of the series are likely to see certain events coming a mile off. The lead character is thinking of going to PARIS, because he has been offered a job in PARIS. However, he doesn't want to go to PARIS because he will leave his girlfriend behind if he goes to PARIS. He suggests that she could come to PARIS with him, but she's not sure that she wants to go and live in PARIS. In other words, FD5 is full of lots of dialogue that mentions PARIS a lot. Put it this way, I had a pound for every time the word PARIS was mentioned, I wouldn't need to pay for my next few cinema trips. Hmmmm. I wonder if that might be significant in some way (the Paris thing; not my not paying).
FD5 should given credit for recognising its limitations. It does what it needs to do (kill off the characters) and ends. It doesn't try and drag things out artificially and the end result is an enjoyable romp which, whilst lacking the freshness of previous outings, is still fun to watch. The ending, despite being nowhere near as clever as it seems to think it is (anyone with half a brain will have seen its two "shock" endings coming a mile off) is satisfying enough and concludes the film in way that's in keeping with the overall tone of the series.
Of course, the acting in FD5 leaves a lot to be desired. The cast is filled with good-looking unknowns who appear to have inherited their acting genes from a tree. The worst offender in this regard is Emma Bell as Molly. Her first appearance on screen is woeful and only improves marginally. So annoying was her "blank canvas" acting that early on I was seriously asking myself whether I could watch a film in which she appeared for 90 minutes. Thankfully, once the deaths start, you forget about the acting and enjoy the squidgy fun.
Once again Hollywood has implemented its latest scam, releasing Final Destination 5 in 2D and 3D versions. Thankfully, I've grown wise to this and, where there's a choice, generally choose the cheaper 2D version. Outside the opening and closing credits, there's little effective use made of 3D. I certainly didn't feel I'd missed out on much by seeing the 2D version, and I'd advise you to save yourself a few quid and do the same.
The whole success of the Final Destination films depends on whether you buy into its slightly daft central concept and ridiculous over-the-top death sequences. This is film number 5, so the chances are you will have made up your mind about this already. If you "get it", FD5 provides the guilty pleasure thrill. If you don't, nothing in this fifth outing will change your mind.
Final Destination 5
Director: Steven Quale
Running time: 92 minutes
© Copyright SWSt 2011