There’s absolutely no reason for The Final Destination to exist other than the only one Hollywood studios really care about: a cynical cash grab. The fourth in a series that has steeply dropped in novelty with each entry, this isn't so much a rehash of the original movie as it is a remake wearing a pathetically unconvincing disguise. The justifying gimmick, I suppose, is 3D, meaning nothing has really changed since the days of Jaws 3D and Friday the 13th 3D. Well, the 3D has gotten better—and presumably affordable due to the lack of stars on display--but the writing is just as bland and laughable.
For all this, The Final Destination is a critic-proof movie, and I get that. I don't begrudge those who like to get their jollies watching the nubile splattered with the blood of their friends; I just wish it wan't too much to ask for Hollywood to take a risk on a new creative talent or a new idea. As in the first picture, an unexplained psychic moment gives a teen a preview of a disaster that’s about to kill dozens of people. When he, his friends, and a handful of strangers subsequently cheat death, the Grim Reaper intends to collect, in a series of Rube Goldbergian death traps involving bottles of gasoline spontaneously tipping over and such. There's a touch of satire to the film's opening 3D showcase sequence, which not-so-gently mocks the deathwatch that is a NASCAR event. Some of the death-dealing scenarios are clever in a snarkily precocious way; others rip from the headlines (a body dragged behind a vehicle in a race-related incident) or pop culture (Chuck Palahniuk's infamous story "Guts").
The young cast (Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, Haley Webb, Krista Allen) is competent but undistinguished; at least they're hungrier and harder-working than veteran Mykelti Williamson (Broadway's Fences), who seems to be busier contemplating the time on the New York stage the check will buy him than credibly portraying his character's angst. The picture is competently made in the technical areas, with 3D enhancing the many impalings and splatterings and adding campy fun to the communal theatrical experience of a mindless horror movie. There’s even a meta-climax set in a multiplex showing a 3D horror movie ("Love Lays Dying"). Fans of gory kills can shut down their brain and enjoy this formula outing, but there’s nothing here of even minor consequence. Subtract the 3D (or downgrade it on home video) and there's even less reason to delude oneself into this timewaster.
UPDATE: Below you'll find my review of the initial Blu-ray release of The Final Destination, now upgraded by New Line to a Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray special edition. The new disc presents the main feature in both a Blu-ray 3D transfer and a 2D Blu-ray transfer. The 2D version and the disc's audio are reviewed below; the new 3D transfer is a bit uneven and does briefly succumb to crosstalk/ghosting, notably with the complex imagery of water sprays and explosions. But on the whole, the 3D presentation is a blast, adding significant value and viewing pleasure. Honestly, if one is to pick up this title on Blu-ray, 3D is definitely the way to go: all of the detail and color of the 2D transfer holds true, and the propulsive effects (shot with 3D cameras as opposed to the many post-production 3D films out there) dazzle with eye-popping efficiency. The largely cheesy digital effects don't always make for the most natural looking picture, but in 3D, you're less likely to notice as you merrily dodge projectiles and experience extreme depth of field in rocketing speed-themed shots. Bonus features remain the same in this 3D edition, presented in 2D HD.
Packaged with two pairs of anaglyph 3D glasses, The Final Destination comes to Blu-ray in both a 2-D Version and a 3-D Version. The eye-straining 3-D Version is probably preferable for its novelty, but for hi-def clarity, the 2-D Version takes the cake. The latter is sharp, with inky blacks and expert contrast contributing to a nice illusion of realistic depth (of another dimension); color is spot-on, and the picture is impressively detailed. Given the HD source, it's not always a very film-like image, but it does make for a pleasing high-def transfer. Crank up the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, and now you're playing with power. A definitive home-theater rendering of the source material, this mix ably presents dialogue and music and precisely delivers the jolting, in-your-ears effects.
The seven-part featurette "Body Count: The Deaths of The Final Destination" (22:07, HD) delivers on its promise of deconstructing the movie's kills. Interviewees include director David Ellis, producer Craig Perry, special effects makeup man Mike McCarty, Haley Webb, Bobby Campo, visual effects supervisor Erik Henry, Krista Allen, Jackson Walker, stunt coordinator Jeffrey J. Dashnaw, Justin Welborn, Shantel VanSanten, Mykelti Williamson, Nick Zano, and Andrew Fiscella.
"The Final Destination - Racecar Crash" (5:00, HD) and "Mall Explosion" (6:04, HD) break down two more sequences by "Storyboards," "Pre-Viz Animatics" and "Visual Effects."
Also present: nine "Deleted Scenes" (7:16, HD) and two "Alternate Endings" (3:33, HD), and horror fans will thrill to the brief but hid-def preview "Exclusive First Look at the New A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1:59, HD) including comments from producer Brad Fuller and star Jackie Earle Haley.
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
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Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
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