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Tomatometer®reviews counted: 1see all Final Destination reviews
Top Critic Reviews
You cannot cheat death. No map can help you. But this movie was good.
- 3niR, Sunday, May 16, 2010
Forget the rest-This Final Destination was the best
- dukeakasmudge, Thursday, October 29, 2009
"You already cheated death by walking off the plane. Now you gotta out when and how it'll come back at you. Play your hunch, Alex. If you think you can get away from it. But beware the risk of cheating the plan, disrespecting the design... could initiate a horrifying fury that would terrorize even the Grim Reaper - and you don't even want to fuck with that MacDaddy." By the year 2000, the slasher genre seemed to have utterly run out of steam given the disappointing final instalment in the Scream trilogy. Final Destination, however, ably proves that there's still life and originality left in the ailing sub-genre. Not a genuine classic by any means, and it's essentially B-Grade horror schlock infused with genre conventions and endowed with A-Grade production values, but this first chapter in what promises to be another never-ending horror saga is superior to your usual horror outing. Blending intriguing supernatural elements with spine-chilling moments and general gory carnage, Final Destination is an extremely entertaining, inventive Friday nighter. Stylishly filmed and tautly directed, this flick deals with a variety of fairly heavy topics which are discussed candidly by teenage characters (in accurately written "teen-speak" as opposed to highly intellectualised dialogue even Harvard scholars wouldn't use), all the while developing into a darkly foreboding, eerie suspenser. The main story is built on a simple question: what if you cheated Death, but the Grim Reaper still demanded his due? Alex Browning (Sawa) is a senior French high school student about to embark on a class trip to Paris with his fellow peers. At the airport prior to departure, everything seems a little off. Upon boarding the plane, Alex suddenly has a vision that the plane will explode after takeoff. His vision is so vivid and intensely real that it provokes a violent reaction. This causes a disturbance, and Alex is consequently booted off the plane along with a few other students as well as a teacher. They're furious with Alex's behaviour...but this emotion quickly changes when they witness the plane promptly exploding moments later, killing all on board. However, the seven who stepped off the plane have cheated Death, and Death wants to balance the ledger. Alex and his friends begin to be methodically hunted down by the forces of the Grim Reaper who's intent on collecting the souls of those who cheated him. "In death there are no accidents, no coincidences, no mishaps, and no escapes." After this set-up is established, the film indeed turns into a slasher movie, albeit a more thoughtful one than usual. Nobody takes their clothes off, and the usual invincible knife-wielding monster is replaced with the never-seen granddaddy killer of them all, the Grim Reaper. Final Destination doesn't use Death as a killer with superhuman abilities who must be overthrown by the protagonists...it's a truly unstoppable supernatural force instead. However, Final Destination succumbs to far too many genre clichs. The FBI agents are, of course, completely useless in the proceedings, and the adults are equally hapless. Also thrown in is an all-knowing mortician who babbles on for two minutes about "Death's design" (portrayed by none other than Tony Todd of the Candyman fame). The protagonists occasionally do boneheaded things (some characters practically walk into their death as opposed to being alert), and they usually act antagonistic towards one another for forced "tension". On top of this, the standard chase finale is silly, and it lacks intensity from time to time. The mediation on fate found within the concept of Final Destination would most likely seem more appropriate for a foreign art film as opposed to a teen slasher flick. These provocative questions about premonitions and destiny are employed merely as a hook. The point of the film has nothing to do with the survivors coping with guilt and uncertainty (a potentially fascinating premise). It instead has other things on its mind: concocting graphic bloodbaths, and proving that death cannot be cheated. Final Destination is certainly serviceable as a teen slasher flick...but it's too clichd, and the premonition aspect is barely touched on. Interestingly, the story was originally the concept for an abandoned X-Files episode. At least the kill sequences are imaginative and enjoyably gory; evoking the spirit of Rube Goldberg. X-Files alum James Wong directs with style and flair, usually judging the timing of the shocks flawlessly (one particularly nasty road accident will leave audiences gasping with surprise), and in the opening 20 minutes he delivers one of the most devastating air disaster sequences ever committed to celluloid. However, Wong occasionally falters when the death sequences are elaborately built up. This is a fault of both those that choreographed these sequences as well as Wong's handling of the material. The kills are constantly far too elaborate to be believed, and the foreshadowing fails in building sufficient suspense. A "less is more" approach could possibly have proved more effective here. To the credit of everyone involved, though, the "don't go in there" syndrome never kicks in when a character is due to die. "We're all on the same list." It comes as no surprise that the "teenage" portion of the cast look more like adults in their mid-to-late twenties as opposed to 18-year-olds. As Alex Browning, Devon Sawa is appealing and subtle. Despite not looking like a teen at all, Sawa offers a certain believability that's beneficial during the film's key moments (after his initial premonition, he looks genuinely terrified). As Clear (the object of Alex's affection), Ali Larter is extremely effective. Ali is undeniably beautiful, but Final Destination never exploits the females of the cast, therein lying one of the best creative decisions of the entire film. As the movie's resident asshole, Kerr Smith stars as Carter Horton. Alongside him, Seann William Scott places forth a surprisingly decent and charismatic performance as one of those who survives the plane disaster. He's the sort of person who gets inadvertently caught up in awful situations. He's also the only student not to leave the plane voluntarily. The rest of the cast is competent at best, including the requisite adult role (Kristen Cloke). True fans of the horror genre will realise the characters are named after famous horror icons. For instance: Alex Browning (Dracula director Tod Browning), Larry Murnau (Nosferatu director F.W. Murnau), Agent Schreck (Nosferatu star Max Schreck), Agent Weine (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari director Robert Weine), Billy Hitchcock (Psycho and Rear Window director Alfred Hitchcock), as well as a few others. In a genre normally devoid of wit, intelligence and originality, Final Destination is a diamond in the rough. Director James Wong's horror movie has the ability to shock (although these moments lose their effectiveness after repeated viewings) and surprise - two qualities rarely found in modern horror flicks. It's ultimately let down, however, by excessive genre clichs and some bad judgements on the part of the filmmakers in relation to some of the death sequences. Instead of a dark horror flick, Final Destination is unfortunately more of a teen slasher. Enjoyable as the latter, but it may have been a superior experience as the former. In spite of a few irritating shortcomings, this is probably the most innovative addition to the genre for years. Followed by multiple sequels, beginning with Final Destination 2 in 2003.
- PvtCaboose91, Monday, October 19, 2009