No matter where you run, no matter where you hide...you can't cheat death. In "Final Destination 5," Death is just as omnipresent as ever, and is unleashed after one man's premonition saves a group of coworkers from a terrifying suspension bridge collapse. But this group of unsuspecting souls was never supposed to survive, and, in a terrifying race against time, the ill-fated group frantically tries to discover a way to escape Death's sinister agenda.
About halfway through Final Destination 5, Tony Todd (better known from Candyman, and also a veteran of the first three Final Destination movies) delivers the line, "I've seen this before." So have we, Tony. So have we.
For those unfamiliar with the Final Destination films, they basically all have the same story; just before a horrible catastrophe, one of the characters has a vision that the disaster is going to take place and saves a group of people. These people, who have "cheated death," spend the rest of the movie dying in strange and creative ways as death makes its way through them. In Final Destination 5, the character who has the vision is a likeable guy named Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto from Fired Up!), and he saves a group of his co-workers, including his ex-girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell from Frozen and "The Walking Dead") and his buddy Peter (Miles Fisher, who looks so much like a young Tom Cruise that he actually plays him in Superhero Movie), from a horrific bridge collapse. Of course, the survivors all start to die in crazy, unbelievable ways. Sam and the rest of the survivors are forced to find a way to cheat death a second time, or die trying.
The Final Destination movies are literally carbon-copies of each other. Every film has followed the same storyline as the first one, and Final Destination 5, despite a few small changes, is no exception. If these movies just keep rehashing the same ten year old plot, then why are they so much fun? Simply put, it's death. The antagonist is the entity of death itself, and death comes up with some pretty inventive ways to take people in Final Destination 5.
Final Destination 5 is a throwback to the earlier movies in the series. Directed by Steven Quale (who was the second unit director on Avatar and Titanic), it is more of a suspense horror film than a dark comedy. The screenplay was written by Eric Heisserer (who also did the screenplay for the reboot of A Nightmare on Elm Street as well as the upcoming re-reboot of The Thing), and he seems to make a conscious effort to steer the action away from the humor of 2009's The Final Destination. That's not to say that it doesn't make fun of itself; there are nods and winks to the past films throughout the picture. However, the new film plays a lot like the original, and it races towards an ending that is, in a word, genius. The last ten minutes alone are worth the price of admission.
One of the main reasons people come to see Final Destination movies is because of the creativity and inventiveness of the visual effects, particularly during the death scenes. Final Destination 5 does not disappoint in the blood and guts category. Most of the gruesome stuff is computer generated, but there are also a few good old-fashioned make-up tricks. The combination of new-school CG and old-school prosthetics makes the killings come to life.
Final Destination 5 is also in 3D, and the effects team makes full use of the technology. For much of the movie, the 3D simply is used for depth of field and perspective purposes, but, during the action and death scenes, the 3D is awesome. The audience feels like it is right in the middle of all of the broken glass, flying debris and splashing water. It's not just gimmicky objects flying at the viewer, either; the 3D effects give the viewer the feeling that they are inside the scene, and they can almost feel the blood and guts splattering onto their face.
Final Destination 5, like the rest of the Final Destination films, follows the old Hitchcock philosophy of "show them the bomb." The audience knows that the characters are going to die and they know in what order that they are going to die. The audience knows what's coming, they just don't know exactly when. This suspense is what makes Final Destination movies tick.
Final Destination 5 is not jump-out-and-scream scary. It's more anticipating-the-inevitable scary. For example, in a memorable scene, one of the characters that cheated death is practicing gymnastics. While she's running through her routine, the camera shows the audience a loose bolt on one of her uneven bars, a leaky pipe that drips water onto a frayed wire, and a screw that has fallen from a broken air conditioner onto her balance beam. The viewer takes all of this in, wondering how each little piece of the puzzle is going to contribute to the predestined accident. Every death scene is built up slowly, with plenty of false alarms and red herrings, until, eventually, the kill that the viewer knows is coming finally does. And it still scares the hell out of them. Final Destination 5 is not going to keep anyone awake at night, but it will supply plenty of shocks and jolts that will be followed up by uncomfortable laughter.
August 12, 2011