They call it The Final Destination, but just how final is Final Destination 4? There’s only one question that’s been asked more about this film. That question: was there really a need for this movie? The answer, you may be surprised to hear, has two possible answers: yes and no. No, because the third movie showed there may be an endless variation of elaborately executed deaths but the fluffy story around the deaths was starting to wear thin. One could pretty much guess how the movie was going to develop: a long introduction with a lot of deaths, the scene where it turns out to be some sort of omen followed by the rescue of a couple of characters and the subsequent series of scenes where the saved characters turned out to be less safe than they’d imagined. Let’s face it: after a while a monkey could write the script. But now for the yes answer: let’s not forget the basic idea may have come from Jeffrey Reddick, but it was duo Glen Morgan and James Wong who turned it into the highly successful series Final Destination has become. The second film was made without the duo’s participation to prove there was the possibility of a sequel for a movie that looked like it couldn’t use a sequel. Which is why Wong returned for the third movie, to claim back his series. The third movie turned out to suffer from sequalitis: the story dragged on and the fresh flavour was gone. Which sounds like more proof to say we didn’t need to have another movie, but director David R. Ellis, who’d also helmed the second instalment, had hopes to milk out a fourth movie: “Let’s do another instalment,” he thought, “but this time let’s do it in 3D.”
Which brings us to a vital question: who would have it, the ayes or the nays?
And the winner is: yes. Because Ellis’s addition to the by now familiar series made it fresher again. Sure, you’d be treated to another 80 minutes of elaborately conceived deaths, but now the deaths were in function of the added gimmick: the 3D effect.
Some critics may say that sometimes Final Destination 4 looks badly directed, especially in countries where the film is offered is 2D. I happen to live in such a country, but last month I was in the UK and I had the chance to see the film in 3D. This week, thanks to the glorious benefit of my local movie card, I watched Final Destination 4 (in 2D) at my local cinema. Like most 3D movies, certain scenes are clearly made for 3D experiences and look a bit odd without the added dimension. This is definitely the case for The Final Destination which doesn’t just content itself with shooting the death scenes in 3D. Even a seemingly unsuspicious scene like the wake is shown in 3D, with a candle appearing between the viewer and the character.
Which is fairly irritating if you watch the film in 2D: you may not notice some 3D effects, but other scenes – like the champagne cork rocketing towards you – look pretty stupid without the third dimension. As if Michael Bay is attempting to film like David Lynch.
So let’s face it, The Final Destination is functionally directed and can only be truly enjoyed in 3D. Apart from the scene where two characters go and watch a movie in 3D, which isn’t shown in 3D in The Final Destination.
And let’s face it: it is a good joke: the movie series which is built around carefully placed objects which look harmless but are lethal if being in a chain of domino effects, now uses those same elements and films them in 3D. So yes, the gimmick works, but that still doesn’t mean it’s a good film. Well, the good news is that this fourth instalment is definitely better than its predecessor but that it’s still less fresh than the first and second movie. I for one found the visionary scenes, where the main character sees everyone’s death before waking up out of his/her dream and warning everyone to move their asses, suffering from a severe case of déjà vu (which is a bit ironic, coming to think of it) and sadly it is done more than once in this film. The only saving grace here, apart from the final scene, is that it allows Death (the always invisible real star of these films) to come up with variations for the same location.Case in point: Nick saves his friends and a couple of others from the race track disaster and, just when everyone is quite relieved,a tyre from one of the exploding cars jumps over the track and decapitates one of the survivors.
Not that the decapitated body looked terribly convincing. In fact, some of the special effects let the film down, whether you’re watching it in 2D or 3D. Much like my other problem with the film: a lot of horror movies need a total jerk, who’s so irritating you really want him/her to die. In this film it’s brainless Hunt (surely that’s intentional rhyming slang) who even grabs his phone during sex with a girl because he has already orgasmed. It’s the sort of character one can stomach in movies with vicious slashers, but I always thought the Final Destination series didn’t need this sort of cliches, but Ellis and Bress (the writer) must’ve thought otherwise. It’s a shame, really.
So what does that leave us with? A movie with better ideas and actors than Final Destination 3, a successful gimmick that brings us a bit of fresh blood and a clever climax. See it in 3D or don’t bother and pray the producers weren’t lying when they called this fourth film The Final Destination.
Score: 7/10 (3D version)
Score: 5.5 or 6/10 (2D version)