Thursday, March 22, 2012

Theater Thursday: Final Destination series

(Its been a while since my last Theater Thursday but just to remind you of one thing. I'm going to talk about this movie in detail so if you don't want to have something spoiled don't read this post.)

I'm betting that everyone has a guilty pleasure movie. A movie that is either so obscure or so looked down upon people think you're weird for watching it much less liking it. For me its the Final Destination series. Yes I like those movies and I'll say to anyone's face. I like the story what can I say.

In the movies we see that Death has a plan. A plan that lays out the where, when, and how of the end of every life. Well what if the plan did not go as planned? What if through unknown means a person was given a vision that lays out the portion of Death's scheme that involves the death of said person and those around them? What if that person used this "gift" to prevent the untimely demise of a select few? And more importantly what happens when Death comes back to claim that which was promised by Fate?

That's premise behind Final Destination. Someone gets a vision of a horrible event that causes the death of several people. Said someone ends up doing something that not only save his/her life but also the lives of several other people. However as I said above Death does not let its quarry go so easily and through the course of the rest of the movie all of the "survivors" die through strange, seemingly statistically impossible, means. Just as a quick run down of some of them.

Final Destination features a teen that is about to board a plane on a flight to France on a school club trip. However just before take off he has a vision of some faulty system on the plane that causes an explosion, killing everyone on board. Naturally this vision freaks him out and starts panicking. As a result of the panic he and six other passengers are removed from the flight. Moments later the plane blows up just as his vision showed him it would. Shortly after Death sets about "correcting" things.

Final Destination 2 starts with a teen with some friends in her SUV with her. Before going out onto the freeway she has a vision of how her, friends, and several other people will be killed in a massive multi-car pile up. She begins to panic and blocks the exit to the freeway so that no one can get on. A cop (one of the "survivors") approaches from behind to question her. He tells her to step out of the vehicle and after she does the wreck happens just as she saw it. Death strikes early in this one by immediately having another vehicle collide with her SUV, killing her friends instantly.

I'll be honest with you I've seen three and four but by the third movie the feeling is not there anymore. The first and second movies are actually connected and have a story that could have stood alone and everything would have been fine. But in true movie making tradition it got run into the ground. The third movie starts with a roller coaster accident and the fourth starts with a car crash at a raceway if you're curious but as I say the magic is just not there. The first two films actually had me interested in the role that Death plays in the order of things and how it should not be, and cannot be interfered with. The third and fourth really just felt like someone said, "hey its a cool idea let's use it" and just made more movies. Don't get me wrong if you like gruesome deaths then watch them but that's all you're going to get from them. I've yet to see the fifth one but from what I understand its actually pretty good and may be a worthwhile view for those who think about Death rather than just wanting to see deaths happen.

Personally I think the series would have fared better if the actual source of the visions had been revealed. Like if the visions were being given by someone who was doing it as part of a larger plan to undermine, and possibly even overthrow, Death. That way there would have been more of an overall plan for the entire series rather than looking like a duology and some money grabbing sequels. Also Tony Todd is in the first two films (and apparently returns for the fifth one) as a weird but subject appropriate Mystical Negro that gives advice on the way Death works and tips on how to cheat it.

I'll more than likely try to watch the fifth one while I'm take my offline break so I'll try to bring back a review of it. Maybe it will restore faith or seal its fate.

Edit: I managed to sneak in Final Destination 5 and I liked it a lot. It wraps things up very nicely and with the way it ends I there should never be a Final Destination 6.

In the fifth installment we see a young man going on a company trip on a charter bus. The bus comes to a suspension bridge that is being worked on by road crews. Suddenly he has a vision of a crack in the bridge that starts a chain reaction. By the end of the vision the majority of the bridge has collapsed with people dying left and right. He warns everyone on the bus to get off and as per tradition only he and a few others get off the bus and away from the bridge before it collapses in just the way he saw it happen. Over the course of the next several days the "survivors" begin to die of odd circumstances including a woman going in for laser eye surgery (and strangely enough the eye laser is NOT what kills her) and a man having his head crushed by a Buddha statue (this guy being "that guy" that thinks he's god's gift to women and all that). And they are even visited by an familiar face.

Tony Todd does indeed have a short appearance in the film as a coroner. In a performance worthy of him he gives them the hint that the only way to cheat death is kill someone else and claim their remaining years for themselves. And of course he doesn't stay around for long because it would not be as creepy if he stayed around for a long time.

But long story short I really love what they did at the end and you don't see it coming until like literally the last scene of the movie unless you catch a big hint that is dropped throughout the entire movie.

At the end the main guy and his girlfriend decide to go to Paris. They are on Flight 180. They see some kids get removed from the plane. Another passenger asks what happened and a flight attendant says that some kid had a vision that the plane was going to crash and they were all going to die.

Yes Final Destination 5 is a prequel to the first movie. Nice isn't it?

So there you have it. A run down of a movie series that has its ups (1,2,and 5) and its downs (3 and 4). Pretty decent and worth watching if you have time to kill but I think it missed that little bit of extra "it" to make it a must see or surefire addition to the dvd collection.