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Final Destination Franchise – Series Review

19 Nov

Everyone’s allowed to have their guilty pleasures, and one of mine just so happens to be the Final Destination movies. They’re short and waste no time giving the audience what they want: watching a group of people die in the most ridiculous of ways. Says a lot about our society doesn’t it? Are all of the movies in this series gems? No, of course not. But that’s not to say that these films haven’t made a mark on the history of horror. This is part 1 of 2 of my reviews. Let’s start in the year 2000 with Final Destination.

 

Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and a group of his high school senior class mates are about to board Flight 108 to France as part of a school field trip. Before the plane takes off, Alex has a vision of the plane exploding in mid-air, killing everyone on board. He starts a panic on the plane having him, a small group of the students, and a teacher kicked off the plane. His vision comes true, but Death isn’t about to let these survivors ruin its plan. Soon the kids begin dying horrible deaths. Alex recruits the help of one of the survivors, Clear (Ali Larter), to help him unravel Death’s mysterious ways and possibly save his friends.

I feel like, automatically, one should think that this is a pretty interesting idea for a movie. It’s actually based on an idea that writer/director James Wong was working on for an episode of The X-Files, which he worked for for some years. Instead it became a feature length movie that is actually pretty damn good. Like I said before, and I’m open to arguments on this, I consider this to be a landmark horror film, especially in the history of modern horror and it has even garnered a spot on the respected list of 100 Scariest Movie Moments put together by Bravo.

 

Sure, sure this isn’t a perfect movie. The acting can either be a little stiff or a little overdone, but for the most part it’s acted pretty well, especially for a movie considered to be in what Roger Ebert calls the “dead teen” genre. Sean William Scott especially gives a really funny side performance. As for the deaths, they aren’t the best that this series has to offer, but it was a good starting point and the intro plane scene is intense and still leaves me a little breathless. Still, there are some parts in the middle that get a little talky and uninteresting leaving me just sitting there waiting for the next kill to happen.

All in all, Final Destination is a good horror movie that I’ve kept near and dear to my horror movie heart since I was a wee lad. It has a lot of suspenseful and exciting scenes and gave a much needed boost to the horror genre. There’s even an excellent cameo for horror star Tony Todd. If you haven’t seen it yet, give it a watch.

As we all know, a series was spawned from this hit movie, but what is a little surprising is that Final Destination 2, released in 2003, is one of those rare movies that can be put on the list of sequels that surpasses their predecessors.

 

Much like in the original Final Destination, a student, Kimberly (A.J. Cook), is traveling to her spring break vacation spot with her friends when she has a vision of a terrible highway accident that kills her, her friends, and many people on the road. After the vision, she blocks the highway, saving many people’s lives. But of course, Death doesn’t go down without a fight and begins “targeting” the survivors. Kimberly and police officer Thomas Burke (Michael Landes) enlist the help of Clear (Ali Larter), the only survivor left from the previous film, to help them understand Death’s pattern.

This movie steps it up in a huge way. First of all, the highway pile up is absolutely incredible. So incredible that I rewound the scene three times to watch it over again. It’s brutal and left me speechless. The great thing is that this movie never loses that intensity. Even during the speeches about Death and the small talk, I still had no trouble paying attention, which is partly because of the surprisingly good characters, each with their own agenda.

But why do people really watch these movies. Not for the characters, obviously. We watch the for the deaths, and, holy shit, are they awesome. Part of this, I believe, goes to director David R. Ellis for not being afraid to show plenty of gore. Final Destination is incredibly tame compared to this movie. People are smushed, stabbed, and decapitated with the cameras rolling to show everything in vivid detail. This may sound kind of sick, but what can I say? Horror is cool.

Final Destination 2 is an excellent horror film that adds to the mythology in interesting ways and builds upon the story from the first. Tony Todd’s even back for another cameo. It’s bloody fun and definitely worth a watch.

Of course, based on the box office results there was bound to be a third entry. In 2006 we got that movie with Final Destination 3.

Do I really need to give the synopsis? I’m going to break the rules of my blog and not give one and just jump into my first complaint, which is actually a pretty big issue. It’s the same exact movie as the original Final Destination! The only real difference is that the introduction happens on a roller coaster instead of a plane. James Wong is back as the writer and director, so I’m even more confused a how he had no trouble making the same movie. What was so good about Final Destination 2, apart from the awesome death scenes, was how it built on the mythology presented in the first film. Final Destination 3 brings nothing new to the table besides more cool death scenes.

Don’t get me wrong, the deaths are pretty awesome, but not as wowing as in the previous film. The introduction is a little disappointing compared to Final Destination and Final Destination 2, but Wong does prey on the fear of roller coasters the same way he did with planes making the scene still effective. I just felt like it was over before it really started. I just wish there was an option on the menu screen to skip all of the same speeches and attempts to get people to believe and go straight to the death scenes.

 

When I say that this movie has some of the dumbest characters in horror films, I’m speaking from the heart. The same horror movie heart I’ve mentioned before. In the past two films, the theory of Death coming back to reclaim its escaped prey is met with skepticism, but after the proof builds up people begin believing. In this movie, everyone is completely ignorant to the idea making the characters so stupid and pointless that they are completely unlikable.

Final Destination 3 shouldn’t have been made. The series should have stopped after the second one wrapped things up perfectly. Nonetheless, it exists and I was disappointed, but I don’t completely hate it. It has memorable scenes that are sandwiched in layers of stupidity. It’ll kill and hour and a half of your time, but I can’t say that it’s really necessary to watch.

Look out for my next review where I will be finishing up this franchise with The Final Destination and Final Destination 5.