Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Final Destination 5 [Review]

The Final Destination series has never been a favourite of mine; indeed, I don’t recall ever having seen the first couple of instalments, instead being introduced through the third. While this threequel managed to allay my preconceptions about the series to an extent, the fourth [and, at the time, supposedly last] instalment, The Final Destination (2009), did far less disservice to such a bias. Now we’re back to the numerical film titles, with a brand new director, and still the Final Destination series slips steadily further into the dark abyss of forgettable cinema.

If you’re new to the series, fear not: the film’s tone is introduced almost immediately through a heavily stylised opening title sequence, which makes ample use of the 3D effects, catapulting plenty of tools of minor destruction at the audience in an attempt to see what sticks. This theme is true of most of the film; indeed, throughout the entire Final Destination series the writers appear to have been throwing things at a wall in such a manner as this analogy, purely in order to stretch further and further the audience’s suspension of disbelief.

What gave the previous films an ounce of credence, defying an often dire range of bland characters - played by an even more forgettable cast - and horribly gaping plot holes or otherwise suspicious plot devices, was the tension created through the often intriguing Rube Goldberg machines that might lead to a character’s untimely (or otherwise) death. The mechanisms were simultaneously nerve-racking yet fascinating, and served to give the Final Destination series a ‘unique selling point’. Final Destination 5 does away yet again with any kind of character development, sports a pitiful cast (replete with seemingly a poor man's Christian Bale in Miles Fisher), has a minimal plot with still too many insane devices, and has now also lost its USP.

Sure, the mechanisms are still there, but it’s clear that the filmmakers are starting to run out of ideas (or they’re just getting lazy). Take a fatality in a factory around the halfway point; a few sparks on a girder and a hook comes tumbling down to impale a union leader. The 3D makes everything a hell of a lot more gruesome, but it’s still nowhere near as complex as has been previously seen. And with the loss of such intricacies, it’s hard to see what the series still has going for it.

To the credit of rookie director Steven Quale and scriptwriter Eric Heisserer, attempts are made at forcing a plot. The recycled themes of premonitions and avoiding death are still present and correct, but now spiced up with a simple premise: kill another, and their ‘years’ on earth become yours. It’s an interesting idea that sparks some plot development towards the end of the film, but through a series of yet more plot holes is ultimately irrelevant.

It seems, then, that aside from some average 3D effects, Final Destination 5 really doesn’t have any strengths after all. And if you’re expecting a ‘nevertheless’, ‘but’, or ‘on the other hand’… well, there isn’t one. The Final Destination series is a ship of tired, lazy themes in a sea of mediocrity, soon to be swept into a whirlpool of forgotten cinematic history. Hopefully to rest for good this time.


See also: Final Destination (2000), The Final Destination (2009)

Dir: Steven Quale
Cast: Nicholas D'Agosto, Emma Bell, Miles Fisher
New Line Cinema, 92 mins, 26/08/11

Synopsis: The fifth instalment of the Final Destination series, and this time a premonition of a collapsing bridge saves eight employees on a team building retreat from certain doom. But Death doesn't like to be cheated... 


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