CONTINUING TO MAKE DEATH BORING
Final Destination might have been brainless fun, but it was not a good movie. Its first sequel was not a good movie either, but it was virtually the same movie, which was such a defiant act of mediocrity I almost had to applaud it. Almost. Now four films in, you have to stand in awe of what the series has been able to accomplish. Even the notoriously self-plagiarizing Friday the 13 th franchise switched it up a little now and then, sending Jason to hell, space and Manhattan. Not Final Destination, which continues to find an audience despite a complete dearth of wit or creativity. Indeed, its producers seem perfectly happy to bankroll an identical kiddy snuff film every three years for a modest return. It’s that time again with the arrival of The Final Destination, yet another movie about a group of bad actors dying violently. Pick a film from the franchise and the plot is exactly the same: After a vivid premonition, a young person helps a group of wary friends avoid a catastrophe. But since Death Has A Plan, they will each go on to die in elaborate accidents in the order they would have died had the prophet not intervened. These accidents are staged by some unseen hand that can cause a water pipe to burst, but for some reason can’t do the same to a human being’s femoral artery. It’s such a moronic premise I feel stupid even explaining it, and stupider still having listened to the main characters explain it to one another, over and over, for the fourth consecutive film. In fact, when I think back over all four movies, I realize that I have probably heard this ludicrous idea laid out more than a dozen times, and it never gets any more plausible. This time, as if it matters, the prophet’s name is Nick (Bobby Campo), and the catastrophe is a wreck at a speedway that sends flaming rubber and metal into a screaming audience. The death scenes that follow find the unlucky survivors crushed, disemboweled and burned alive in all sorts of not-at-all surprising ways. In the spirit of the cut-and-paste nature of the film’s plot, I’ll repeat a portion of my criticism of Final Destination 3: “When I say ‘unnecessary,’ I don’t just mean that I didn’t like it. It’s unnecessary like the remake of Psycho was unnecessary — the actors might be different, but it’s the same film. Not a single thing has changed. Not one. Which, of course, begs the question: Why bother?” The question remains on the table. Director David R. Ellis distracts from it by throwing 3-D into the mix, but it’s just another tired gimmick in a series that has already exhausted every possible meeting of appendage and power tool. Ellis, who directed Final Destination 2, sat the third installment out in 2006, opting instead to throw his considerable non-talent into Snakes on a Plane. Now he’s back, and The Final Destination retains the flat, uninteresting look of that cultural flash in the pan. None of these films are visual marvels, but the latest one somehow manages to look worse than its low-budget predecessors. There’s gore a-plenty, but it’s all phony-looking CGI that robs the film of anything even remotely shocking. Overlong even at a scant 82 minutes, The Final Destination will have you wishing for your own convoluted death less than halfway through.
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