December 22, 2011

Despite the fact that the Final Destination series was supposed to have come to an end with Final Destination 4, here we are again.  New round of kids, same ol’ specter o’ death, always up to some sort of Rube Goldberg-ian shenanigans.  By now, this franchise has established itself as the go-to series for “seeing people killed in inventive, gruesome ways”, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  But Final 4 was genuinely terrible, the first film in the series to make me question whether or not all the scenes that weren’t drenched in viscera were worth suffering through in order to get to the money shots.  Would Final Destination 5 return the franchise to its “not great, not even good, but watchable for the kills” glory?  Find out in my review, after the jump.

final_destination_5_movie_image_01The short answer is, “pretty much”.

None of the Final Destination films are referred to by their actual titles, but by the characteristics of the big-ass accidents that kick-start each film.  Final Destination 2, for instance, is “the car wreck one”, while Final Destination 3 is “the roller-coaster one”.  Final Destination 4—“the NASCAR one”—was the one that seemed to kill the franchise off once and for all, largely because of the film’s awful script and the somehow-even-more-awful acting that permeated the film (just try getting through that film’s opening ten minutes without wanting to punch every actor onscreen in the face), but also because…well, this was the fourth iteration of the series, and everything’s gotta wrap up sooner or later, right?

That’s what New Line Cinema thought, anyway.  They’d insisted on calling the fourth film The Final Destination and came this close to releasing it directly to DVD.  Then they said, “Eh, what the hell”, dropped it into theaters, and made a surprising amount of money during the flick’s opening weekend.  That, of course, led to Final 5 The Bridge Disaster One, and, well, here we are:  staring down the barrel of a fifth go-round with the world’s unlikeliest horror franchise (yes, even more unlikely than the Saw franchise).  Upon learning that the franchise was taking a victory lap, I was not thrilled, but the possibilities inherent in “Final Destination death scenes + 3D” was pretty compelling, and at worst these films have always been watching at least once.

final_destination_5_movie_image_emma_bell_01The Bridge Disaster One is definitely the best Final Destination the series has seen in a long while (probably the best since the second, and maybe just as good), but I’m sad to report that the viewing experience isn’t as fun at home as it was in theaters:  for one thing, these films are always best enjoyed with a shrieking crowd;  for another, New Line has made the curious decision to release The Bridge Disaster One in 2D.  I just bought a big-ass, 3D, LED television about a month ago, and while I’ve been using the set primarily for gaming (you should see Arkham Asylum and Assassin’s Creed in 3D:  your face will melt), I’ll confess that I was kind of hoping to see The Bridge Disaster One at home in 3D.  I can’t imagine this will be a common complaint, however, as most people still don’t own 3D TVs.

Otherwise, though, this one’s one of the better Final Destination films, and has the distinction of being the only film in the franchise that actually gave me nightmares (it was the laser eye-surgery scene, which plays upon a very particular fear I have of anything being jammed into my ocular cavities)(note:  your mom has the same fear).  Once again, a group of teenagers narrowly escape death, and once again two or three of their friends are killed off—by the looming, unseen specter of death—before they realize that something’s amiss, and once again they’re forced to speak to Tony Todd in order to figure out what the hell’s going on (finding out how the script will work a Tony Todd appearance into each new Final Destination is one of the series’ strangest, most satisfying highlights).  The kills are grislier in this one than I remember them being in installments past, and—by the end—just about everyone’s dead.  You know what you’re getting into here.

final-destination-5-blu-ray-coverThe only thing that really changes from film to film is the accident that kicks off the plot (as it were).  In this one, it’s a massive bridge collapse.  This scene is probably the highlight of the film (with the possible exception of that still-squirm-inducing eyeball scene) and appears to be where most of the film’s budget went:  there’s a level of quality on display in this sequence that’s not readily apparent in some of the other scenes, particularly in some of the obvious set-building that’s been done by director Steven Quale.  It may also be worth noting that I found the characters in this one far more unlikable—as a group and individually—than any other Final Destination cast.  Did this make the kill scenes even better?  I suspect it did (particularly for the loud-mouth douche nozzle that gets his in an acupuncture clinic).

One final note (no pun intended):  I really, really liked the ending on this one.  Very clever, indeed, and completely unexpected the first time I saw the film.  If you’ve been holding off on seeing this one but you’ve at least seen the first film in the series, the ending alone is worth renting this one for.

The extras are scant (a few behind the scenes featurettes on the film’s bigger disaster scenes, a few alternate death scenes, no commentary), the video quality’s solid, and the film runs at a quick 92 minutes.  Beyond all that, however, I’m finding it difficult to come up with much to say about this one.  Either the Final Destination films blow your skirt up…or they don’t.  If you’ve been amused by the series in the past, this one’s certainly worth a rental, but I honestly can’t imagine this one’s worth owning (for non-completists, anyway) unless they’re also releasing a 3D version.

My grade?  B+

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