Wayback Review: Final Destination 5

I could use a chill, couldn’t you?  So lets’ take a peek at my review of Final Destiation 5, which was originally posted on August 12, 2011 at Atomic Popcorn.

final destionation 5 onesheetOxymoron or no, Final Destination 5 is shooting out toward you at your local theater. But is it any good? Depends on what you’re looking for.  If you’re looking for the feel-good movie of the year? Well, that’s the next theater over. You want to see a gory, gruesome body count, complete with body parts flying at you in 3D, crammed into a little over an hour and a half?  There has been nothing that comes close to this movie this year.  Right this way for bread and circus; are you not entertained? Damn right you are.

The folks crankin’ out this series have given us blood by plane, highway, roller coaster and NASCAR from hell. This time around it’s the crappiest suspension bridge ever, or maybe it’s the lousiest construction workers ever. Either way, the bridge goes kaput, along with a busload of twenty-something admin employees, off to a work “retreat”. Guess it beats those stupid teambuilding exercises (just like this premise definitely tops trying to pass off young adults as high schoolers.) But no, it was a premonition seen by office Everyman Sam Lawton, who promptly goes batshit.  In the process he saves a handful of his co-workers, including his girlfriend who just broke up with him. He’s probably rethinking that last one.

You’ve seen it all before, so why dip your toe into the pool this time around? Because you’re gonna get wet. Really, really wet. Entrails dripping off the camera lens wet. Let’s face it; nobody goes to see a Final Destination film for the character development. People go to see how the new pair of poor suckers are gonna bite it. Death doesn’t come to collect by letting you die peacefully in your sleep. Nuh-uh. Death creates elaborate Rube-Goldberg-esque machinations that keep viewers guessing as to what exactly is gonna be the big send-off. Think of the breakfast machine in beginning of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but more on the DL and 100% bent on your bloody, disgusting demise. Plus, with the Final Destination films, there’s always a twist to the way Death comes a’callin’. The twist with this latest installment of the series? If you take a life, you get the years that person would have had, and Death gives you a pass on the whole getting cheated thing.

The popularity of the Final Destination films came as a surprise at first. After all, there isn’t a crazed killer in a William Shatner mask to try to outwit. The killer is Death itself, and though it gets pretty pissed when it’s cheated, there isn’t a lot of interaction. What keeps this franchise alive is the creative ways they rack up a body count. The special effects in Final Destination 5 are outstanding, with a seamless blending of live action and effects. Which is amazing not only due to the sheer amount of effects laid out in this film — gore does indeed slide down camera lenses, and spatters everywhere — but because 3D can be unforgiving to cheap, poorly done effects. Nothing takes the bloom off a half-baked effect than shooting it out to the audience so they can get a really good look at it. Awk-ward. But with Final Destination 5, it’s obvious that director Steven Quale got things right. No wonder, really; he was second unit director for Avatar, so he’s an old hand at getting the best out of this new medium. Hell, this film is worth the price of admission just to watch the beginning credits. And if the characters in the actual film are about as interesting as the font they use during the title sequence, who cares? Casting lesser known actors puts the focus right where it should be in a splatter movie; on the red stuff. With the exception of Tony Todd (Candyman), David Koechner (Anchorman) and Arlen Escarpeta (We Are Marshall), you’d be hard pressed to remember seeing any of these actors in anything before this film. All the actors are game enough, from Todd’s wink-and-a-smile Coroner Bludworth to Chasty Ballesteros’ put-upon spa receptionist. Final Destination 5 also manages to deliver a few good moments of actual suspense, where the heebie-jeebies will definitely getcha.

At the end of this film there’s a montage of all the previous deaths from the first four movies, as well as a tip of the hat to the original film. As I watched Death come to collect from all those that cheated it over the years, I got to thinking; how and why do these particular individuals get the premonitions that save them? Why good ol’ Sam in this movie? Why not Dennis the boss, or slutty-cool Olivia? Is there someone or something trying to screw Death over? Now that’s a sub-plot I’d like to see in the next film. And if they make money with Final Destination 5, there will be another; Tony Todd has said there’s a possibility of two more in the series, filmed back-to-back. So you watch yours, and I’ll watch mine…and if you hear “Dust In The Wind” on your next trip? Stop, get out, and run. Because you never know.

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