Isn't it amazing how a single film can reshape a movie genre? 'The Ring' for instance, is the catalyst that started the whole Asian horror remake craze. The 2003 "reimagining" of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' is responsible for jumpstarting Hollywood's recent obsession with classic horror rehashes. And during the mid-nineties, it was Wes Craven's 'Scream' that single-handedly revived the dying slasher subgenre with a much needed shot of adrenaline, kicking open the doors for a new wave of similarly polished clones like 'I Know What You Did Last Summer,' 'Urban Legend,' and perhaps the most innovative of the bunch, 'Final Destination.' What made this particular movie such a clever slasher was that it surgically removed the typical psychotic killer element and replaced it with the simple and ingenious concept -- you can't cheat death.
Kismet will get you every single time.
The downside to this premise, as brilliant as it may be, is that it unfortunately etches everything in stone, leaving very little wiggle room to take the stories in different directions. As a result, the plots of all the films in the 'Final Destination' franchise are stamped from the same template. The movies center on a main protagonist, a teenager or young adult, who suddenly is troubled by a premonition--enabling them to foresee themselves as one of many victims in a horrific catastrophe. The various disasters include the explosion of Flight 180 in the original film, followed by a massive freeway pile-up, and the derailment of an amusement park roller-coaster in the next two sequels. This time, in 'The Final Destination,' Nick O' Bannon (Bobby Campo) is the unlucky soul, haunted by the death and destruction caused by a nightmarish race car crash at McKinley Speedway. At first the visions in each of these episodes are tough to process, but as eerie signs indicate the experiences may be glimpses into the very near future, Nick and the others use this knowledge to escape tragedy and prevent their demises. Or so they think -- as it isn't very long before the survivors are struck with a grim reality check that fate always has a way of realigning its master plan.
Directed by David R. Ellis ('Snakes on a Plane') and written by Eric Bress ('The Butterfly Effect') who also worked together on 'Final Destination 2,' the sole purpose of 'The Final Destination' is to cash-in on the recent 3-D resurgence that has become all the rage. Just like 'Journey to the Center of the Earth' and the remake of 'My Bloody Valentine,' the film was developed specifically with 3-D in mind, so there are plenty of intentional in-your-face gags like runaway tires and popping champagne corks making a beeline straight for the camera. Ellis and Bress also seem to be aiming for a more lighthearted approach, even injecting a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor to give a little wink-wink nudge-nudge to the whole 3-D experience. While I don't think the end result worked out as well as they had intended, at least they deserve some credit for trying to take a fun route.
Ironically, this is also the main problem of 'The Final Destination,' as so much focus is devoted to the 3-D angle that the rest of the film suffers. The movie is a sleek eighty minutes, most likely to ensure the 3-D aspect doesn't wear out its welcome, but that in turn cuts down on any potential plot and character development. Not that these films had much of that anyway, but this script is so watered down (the worst of the entire series, in my opinion) and the characters are so bland and uninteresting that now it's blatantly obvious they really only exist to string together the elaborate kills. Plus it doesn't help matters that the bizarre accidents in this chapter are so over-the-top they come off much tackier than the ones in the previous films. Now I'm certainly not saying don't make them exciting, since after all, if Death went for the quick fix by having these people simply choke on a booger the movie would be pretty dull, however this seemed more like a desperate attempt to one-up the Jigsaw killer.
Despite my complaints, I still would be lying if I said I found 'The Final Destination' boring. The kill sequences may be excessively corny, but they're still moderately entertaining and the build-up leading up to them does generate some tension and suspense. I just think the movie in general could have been a lot less hollow, and although I missed its theatrical run I'm sure it was probably more enjoyable up on the big screen.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
New Line Cinema and Warner Home Video re-release 'The Final Destination' to 3D Blu-ray in a normal blue keepcase with a lenticular slipcover. The Region Free, BD50 disc also includes the 2D version of the movie which can play on standard Blu-ray players. The package comes with an $8 coupon, redeemable only online, for the latest franchise installment, 'Final Destination 5.' Once in the player, the disc goes straight to the main menu where users can switch between the 2D and 3D versions.
Based solely on its own terms as a 3D product, this MVC-encoded transfer of 'The Final Destination' delivers one of the best 3D presentations around.
The picture quality itself is pretty much the same as its 2D counterpart. Presented in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, colors are bright and bold throughout, especially reds and greens, giving the bloody carnage an extra juiciness. Black levels are true and accurately rendered, except for one or two scenes where they lose a tad of their luster. Shadow delineation remains strong with great clarity in the darkest portions, adding to the image's field of depth. Contrast is somewhat unusual with generally good, steady balance. It does, however, run a tad hot, with highlights degrading some of the finer details in the video, which could be a result of shooting with digital cameras. Overall definition and resolution is still sharp and distinct with excellent visibility of small backdrop info.
In the third-dimension, the transfer is an actual improvement not only to the picture, but the movie as a whole. Filmed on the Fusion 3D Camera Systems — the same used for 'Avatar,' 'TRON: Legacy' and 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' — the video shows incredible depth that's consistent from the opening racetrack accident to the closing credits. Separation of the image is simply outstanding, while ghosting is kept to a bare minimum. A few visual gimmicks are understandably employed and also look terrific, but it's nice to see director David R. Ellis not place much emphasis on such things. Pick any random scene and viewers can genuinely feel as if objects within the room are at a great distance from everything else. Even foreground objects are pop out from the rest of the image. If only the transfer were sharper and more detailed, then 'The Final Destination 3D' could easily serve as demo material.
The audio is the same lively and impressive DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack as the previous Blu-ray release.
The design makes excellent, clever use of the surround speakers, delivering discrete effects effectively and convincingly. Whether at the speedway or during moments of explosive bloodbaths, rear activity generates exciting, enveloping moments of gory mayhem as debris flies all across the listening area. The soundfield is also well-supported, with subtle ambient sounds when things are a bit calmer. Outstanding channel separation creates a spacious front soundstage full of clarity and sharp dynamics, allowing the thunderous action to be engaging and perfectly audible without the slightest hint of distortion. Vocals are never drowned out or overwhelmed by the loudness so that we can enjoy every minute of the dramatic dialogue. Low bass adds some good forceful weight to the musical score and the rest of the lossless mix.
This high-rez track is just terrific.
The only thing missing here are two pairs of cardboard anaglyph (red/blue) 3-D glasses, which I'm sure no one is missing. Otherwise, this is the same selection of bonus material.
With a deceptive title, 'The Final Destination 3D' is sadly not the final installment to the meandering franchise. This third sequel features an even dumber cast of ridiculously lucky characters cheating death, but before the credits can roll, the audience knows they'll likely be fodder to the Grim Reaper's appetites. The 3D Blu-ray disc shows excellent picture quality with an outstanding audio presentation, but features the same assortment of supplements. This is worth the asking price only if you're in dire need of some high-def 3D material, or if you're a fan.