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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.44%
Worth A Look: 7.32%
Pretty Bad: 34.15%
Total Crap: 17.07%

5 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Final Destination 5
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by Erik Childress

"Becomes A Little Too Human In The End"
3 stars

If a doctor or psychotherapist were to one day embark on the dream of a comedy album entitled "You might be a sadist...," joke numero uno would probably involve watching the Final Destination films in your underwear with chips and chunky salsa. Not a very funny joke, but then neither is telling someone how thee shall be judged in the right or wrong way of how to deal with death in a completely fictional manner. Maybe there is some dark, giddy place in my psyche that enjoys watching creative, quality kills in the cinematic venue. The horror genre of my generation was practically built upon this foundation of blood, guts and dismemberment. Sure its just gross and dumb sometimes (like in the entire Friday the 13th series) but the Final Destination series hit upon such a way to make it fun, funny and wince-inducing all at the same time. Most of them, at least. Maybe during the fifth entry in this franchise I grew up a little, or maybe the filmmakers just got a little lazy, but it was disappointing to watch it wrap itself by becoming just another killer-in-human-form thriller.

On a retreat meant for team-building, a group of co-workers from some office building built over a steel factory (at least that is how it seems) board a bus and head out for the morning. Poor Sam (Nicholas D'Agosto) who really wants to be a chef, has just found out his girlfriend, Molly (Emma Bell) has broken up with him in the most crappiest way by just canceling her ticket on the trip they had planned. Forget all that though, cause the bus is approaching a large suspension bridge under construction. A crack here and a strong wind there and that baby starts coming apart at the seems. Sam does his best to get Molly and his fellow workers to safety, but to no avail. Cause its really only a vision, as usual, and he has just enough time to save seven others who may now be facing a fate worse than death.

Actually, its just death itself. And scary coroner Tony Todd who keeps appearing to tell tragedy victims that "death doesn't like to be cheated." Apparently the Grim Reaper is a sore loser akin to some sweaty desperado getting a bad beat at poker that now must tweak the rules of the Kobayashi Maru to meet its quota. The rules are changed this time around though. Or the loophole is finally revealed. Death continues to kill the survivors in the order they would have died in the original vision, but if any of them can give it a stand-in in their place, the Reaper will be satisfied and move on. But who will have the gumption to do it? Weasley ego-tripped team leader, Dennis (David Koechner) or Sam's best friend, Peter (Miles Fisher)? How about Peter's gymnast girlfriend, Candice (Ellen Wroe) or vision-challenged hottie, Olivia (The Bold and the Beautiful's Jacqueline MacInnes Wood)? Perhaps your bets are on nerdy lothario, Isaac (P.J. Byrne, last seen pimping for same-sex handjobs in Horrible Bosses) and token black guy, Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta). The smart money is still on Death, however, even if he might be getting a little lazy.

Part five practically invites the suggestion that the films have shifted into self-parody mode, throwing one ridiculously non-sensical fatal item through a pane of invisible glass into the audience's laps during the guitar-fueled opening credits. Oh, did I fail to mention this one is also in 3-D. In a rare exception to the overused gimmick, these are precisely the kinds of films that 3-D were meant for. Whatever may or may not be jumping off the screen through somebody's eye, the opening catastrophe alone is one of the best arguments for 3-D that has come along to date. The depth of the setting combined with some truly impressive special effects all combine to create one of the more exhilarating set pieces of the year. This has always been Final's forte, leading with a doozy of an opening (plane crash, highway accident, racetrack disaster; the rollercoaster was disappointing) and then trying to up the stakes with more intimate bait-and-switch scenarios that keep the audience guessing as to how the final demise will take place. If we had to rank those endings in chapter five, you can probably do them in order from greatest-to-weakest.

The first half of Final Destination 5 contains its most creative ideas. The bridge sequence and a bit that gives new perspective on the film Stick It are glorious in that sick, sadist kind of way. Because none of these eight characters inspire much sympathy from their intros on, only heightens their elaborate final scenes. (How could you not love the racist NASCAR hick getting his comuppance in the last film, set to "Why Can't We Be Friends?") Once laser surgery and some particularly unstable high-rise windows become our worst enemy though, you can almost see director Steven Quale realize he still has five more people to off and after two more are dismissed pretty quickly the finale all but throws the baby out with the bathwater.

The potential of integrating a person's murderous instincts as a solution to ward off the karma of death is a fascinating arena that one prays might be explored further if the managers of this entity had it in their wisdom to hire someone like Brian DePalma to helm the sixth venture. Eschewing the more psychological take on the material has worked in the past for sure, but Quale misses the opportunity for an all-out battle royale between the controlled and uncontrolled, devoting more time to friends trying to kill friends while allowing Death to take a breather and just watch how it all plays out. Then, like a practical joker, serves up one final twist that is amusing, if immediately recognizable. Despite whatever twisted part of our clinically damaged psyches that enjoy these films, here is hoping that we have not come completely full circle on this premise. I would hate the final images to be a recap loop of all the gruesome killings I have questionably enjoyed over the last decade. It all looks rather depressing bunched together like that, especially without an accomplished horror/suspense director getting their shot to make the best one yet. Cause number five is only fourth on the Death list.

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originally posted: 08/12/11 03:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2011 series, click here.

User Comments

7/29/12 cr somewhat predictable but still very entertaining! 3 stars
10/26/11 ashley rexrode no good actors. not too bad during the death scenes though 3 stars
9/27/11 sake02mo The best part in every Final Destination is the first 15 min. 4 stars
9/20/11 Scotty Uh the roller coaster was awesome it was the racetrack that sucked 4 stars
9/11/11 Captain00Kirk Bad acting, ok deths. 3 stars
9/10/11 b0SamueL0b +z$8frZdyL%68pSU/:>w<:E3.lG-!XIB 5 stars
8/28/11 Life of Brian Utter trash 1 stars
8/16/11 karamashi This summer's Piranha 3-D. Gory, Funny, and just plain fun. 4 stars
8/12/11 DIET CUPCAKE It is too short, and it doesn't worth the money, I give a $5.00 price with free 3D glasses. 2 stars
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  12-Aug-2011 (R)
  DVD: 27-Dec-2011


  DVD: 27-Dec-2011

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