Sunday, April 15, 2007

Final Destination Trilogy

dir. James Wong

Just like Kenny Rogers and the SATs, Death hates cheats.

Joey Devine, ALAMEDA
April 15, 2007 - DVD

The Seed.

Final Destination is a really subtle movie. In a genre as overblown and dumbed-down as the teen horror genre, Final Destination really just lets the audience figure it all out. In fact, this movie is so ambiguous you can’t even tell what it’s about until the tightly wound knot that is Final Destination unfurls itself in the final act. Take the first 8 to 10 minutes:

We are shown a copy of Death of a Salesman.

Dad says, “Live it up, Kid! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you.” (Cue Ear Shattering Ominous Score)

A student reads a book about French tourism that mentions Lady Di. (Wait…isn’t she…No…She Didn’t? She’s dead right?)

Leaving on a Jet Plane” by John Denver plays in the airport bathroom. (Actual line of Dialogue: “John Denver? Wait a second; didn’t he die in a plane crash?")

A baggage cart reads the number 666.

Oh wait. I totally lied in that first paragraph. Sorry. This movie is about as subtle as the new Dane Cook CD. (Translation for Dane Cook fans: THIS MOVIE IS THE OPPOSITE OF SUBTLE. Wait, why are you reading this? Shouldn’t you be bro-ing it up somewhere?) So, it’s not subtle, but that’s okay because it has great dialogue, right? No, actually the dialogue is really wooden and terrible; as is the acting by some person named Ali Larter and the kid who played Casper the Friendly Ghost. (I would normally give some kind of example here, but I lost my notes, and watching all three Final Destinations in one sitting has irreparably damaged my brain.) No, FD1, as I like to call it, is all about the wacky deaths and irreverent “black humor” (I put that in quotes because it is neither dark nor is it humorous). A lady gets stabbed and exploded (AT THE SAME TIME!). A kid hangs himself taking a shower. All with generally mediocre to almost-fun results. Little did we know that this little movie would lead to something so much greater.

A quick plot rundown:

Funny song plays ("Leaving on a Jet Plane"). Kids get on plane. One kid has a dream that the plane is going to explode. Kid freaks out. Various under developed characters and love interest get off plane with kid. Plane explodes. Various half characters die in over the top ridiculousness. Kid and love interest get scared. Kids think they beat death some how. Kids die in end. (Credits Roll)


Read that series of events one more time, because that is the basic formula from which genius spawns.

A quick FD1 fun fact:

On the DVD there are 3 different commentary options. Including one with just the composer of the score. (Spencer, I think you need to get on this one.)

Final Destination 2
dir. David R. Ellis

"Holy Shit! It’s Bob Weinstein!"

The Misstep.

powered by ODEO

Alfred Hitchcock once said that the key to making a great sequel was showing the audience exactly what they saw the first time, only bigger and include only one major character from the first movie (Remember a couple of paragraphs ago when I said all the kids died? Yeah, that was a lie. Ali Larter is still alive.) That’s why Psycho 2 was so great, because he followed his own instructions.


Psycho 2 is neither great nor was it directed by Alfred Hitchcock. And I made up that stuff about sequels.

The premonition part of Final Destination 2 is totally great. Highway to Hell plays. A bus full of football players screams “Pile up! Pile up! Pile up!” It is really over the top and in general, shockingly fun. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about the rest of FD2. Well, actually it is really over the top, but where FD1 took itself almost too seriously, FD2 is just too goofy (okay, so that’s a lie. FD1 really wasn’t THAT serious, but please, just bear with me here). FD1 is all Bob Hoskins. FD2 is all Roger Rabbit. FD2 is a movie where a guy escapes a fire and then dies because he slips on some spaghetti he threw out the window. And another 19-year-old kid has a plate glass window fall on him, because he can’t resist the urge to chase a group of pigeons away. Even under Final Destination rules isn’t that just a little too crazy?

I hated this movie. Luckily, 65 minutes into the movie, it ended. Not because the movie was over, mind you, but because I rent movies from the local Blockbuster Video, and it came with a deep scratch across the DVD. Thank you, Weinstein Company, for contractually obligating all Blockbuster Videos to destroy all non-Weinstein movies. I could kiss your feet Bob and Harvey. I really could. So yeah, I don’t know how this movie ends. And I also don’t really care. Good Riddance.

Final Destination 3
dir. James Wong

Every fourth scene in this movie looks like this.

The Pinnacle.

I’ve got to level with you guys. I’m facing a real dilemma here. I love Final Destination 3. But I HAVE NO IDEA WHY. It’s not a good movie, I don’t think. But I also don’t love it because it’s terrible. But it’s a movie I love so much I’ve watched it 4 times this month. It is always on HBO. Final Destination 3 stars the girl from Brick that I have a crush on (Wait…Hold on…Actually I’m being told it stars the girl from Sky High who I don’t have a crush on. Sorry, I always get those two movies mixed up, you know, because they’re so similar), and someone named Texas Battle. (Or at least it says so in the credits, but I refuse to believe that there is someone out there actually calling him or herself Texas Battle). FD3 mixes the over the top ridiculousness of FD1 and the mega super A-bomb ridiculousness of FD2 into a cocktail of face burning acid that will thrill and delight!

FD3 has the greatest premonition scene in all of movie history, and that includes the movie Premonition. Let me just say it involves a bunch of kids and a roller coaster. IT IS AWESOME! People get cut in half, the roller coaster defies the laws of physics and hangs for an eternity at the top of its loop. It is amazing. And to think I’m only being half sarcastic when I write this!

Where FD3 really succeeds is in its execution. It throws away the build up to everyone’s crazy deaths that was so prevalent in the first two, and instead of building up tension using fake scares and slow mo as people turn on ovens and stuff, it lets us know how the characters are going to die using a cheap plot device. The entire movie is a race to see if the main characters can convince people not to go tanning or whatever, and when they can’t, getting there just late enough to watch their heads explode as the main characters look on in terror with blood all over them. Seriously, I would say an eighth of the scenes in this movie end with two people looking on in horror as blood splatters all over their faces. For some reason, I enjoy this every time it happens. (Funnily enough, it seems as if MTV agrees as they just premiered this show called Scarred that seems to have the same premise. Only with skateboarders and in real life.)

In the end, I think the reason I love this movie so much is for the same reason I used to love that game Mouse Trap. It’s literally like watching that game happen over and over again, only if some kind of outrageous idiot savant had designed it. In one scene, two valley girls turn the heat up in their tanning salon, which melts the ice on a soda; the condensation from the soda leaks into the box that controls the temperature on their tanning beds, frying them; the heater blows a coat rack over; which knocks a shelf on top of the two tanning beds, causing the two girls to burn to death in a tanning bed. All while the chorus of Roller Coaster of Love plays over and over again! I know it’s stupid, but it’s great stupid. I think. I don’t know what else to say, I love this movie!

So, go see Final Destination 3, but please don’t blame me if you think it sucks.


Jeff GP said...

The only piece of this trilogy I have seen is the beginning of FD2.

Needless to say, I was impressed.

Actually, I think I may have seen the beginning of FD1. Does FD1 star the entire cast of Lost?

Jeff Larson said...

Man alive, yeah, the beginning of FD2 rules!

joey devine! said...

it's all about FD3 guys. Trust me on this one.

Matt in Gdansk, Poland said...

Oh man, I remember that FD2 beginning... I believe that was around the same time Bad Boys 2's extended fourth act came out... man that was a great time, working at the Cinema 9.

joey devine! said...

Man everyone is clearly behind on their FDs. I think it's about time everyone bumped the FDs to the tops of their respective queues.