Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Final Destination 4 - Movie Review

Cast :: Shantel VanSanten, Bobby Campo, Haley Webb, Nick Zano, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella, Mykelti Williamson, Richard T Jones.

On what should have been a fun-filled day at the races, Nick O'Bannon has a horrific premonition in which a strange sequence of events causes multiple race cars to crash, sending flaming wreckage into the stands, brutally killing his friends and causing the upper deck of the stands to collapse on him. When he comes out of this grisly nightmare Nick panics, persuading his girlfriend, Lori, and their friends, Janet and Hunt, to leave... escaping seconds before Nick's frightening vision becomes a terrible reality. Thinking they've cheated death, the group has a new lease on life, but unfortunately for Nick and Lori, it is only the beginning. As his premonitions continue and the crash survivors begin to die one-by-one--in increasingly gruesome ways--Nick must figure out how to cheat death once and for all before he, too, reaches his final destination.

The dictatorship of the title tells us we shouldn't expect any more of the death defying gore the Final Destination franchise has offered audiences since the first film debuted in 2000 and more than doubled its production budget at the box-office. From that point on every three years has seen a new installment in theaters, but after nine years I would say it is finally time to put the nail in the coffin on this one as not even the fun 3-D effects can distract an audience enough to realize this just isn't fresh or interesting anymore.

Anyone that has seen a trailer for this film already knows we begin this premonition of death at a cheap-o looking hillbilly car race, which may be the first time I have actually seen the use of 3-D make a film look even cheaper as tiny stands filled with 30 or so on-lookers looks like they aren't even part of the action. I mention this only because I thoroughly enjoyed the opening to Final Destination 2 and with David Ellis back in the director's chair for this one, I had hopes for an opening that would rival that log-rolling face-crusher. Instead, CG takes over and bores the audience with each kill looking no different than the last. The best part of the whole thing is a headless dummy mold twitching and spurting blood in the segment's final moments. Sure, it looks fake, but it looks gruesomely fake. After all, I hope they didn't think we thought any of this was real in the first place.

After our lead characters escape certain death, including a role given to Mykelti Williamson as an ex-alcoholic racetrack security guard, we follow this group of goofballs as they try to fool death and escape its plan to finish what it started. It's the last in the franchise, is it possible they finally cheat death and declare check mate?

Expectations for what The Final Destination delivers should be muted. Even if you already know the kills will be ludicrous and the series of events leading up to them improbable, there is still that little something in your head that says, "Oh come on!" even though what follows may be gruesomely delightful. Echoes of "That's stupid," could be heard amongst my midnight viewing audience all while they had a laugh at the slaughter. Hell, if these are your kinds of movies you would be hard-pressed not to enjoy a little of what you see on screen, but only to a certain point.

When bottles of hairspray begin floating in pools of condensation you laugh a little, but roll with it. However, when a fan blows a cart full of liquid explosives across a room later on you can't help but think, "Didn't I see something like this only a few minutes ago?" The answer is yes and at that point tedium set in long ago, even though watching a racist hillbilly meet a gloriously comical demise was rather enjoyable.

Of course, thinking in this kind of a film is frowned upon. You are supposed to sit back, wait for the next person to find their fate at the hands of death's vicious blow and bask in the blood-soaked carnage. The only question is whether you are able to do that entirely. I can't. I love the imaginary kills, but have grown tired of the nonsense in-between. And on top of all that, with this being the final film in this franchise you would think they wouldn't end it with CGI skeletons and not an all out gorefest. It's an ultimate insult to an audience that is supporting this film despite the fact the third one was running on fumes and showed little room to go, but still managed to be far more fun than this one.


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