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Theatrical Review: THE FINAL DESTINATION

James Wallace

by: James Wallace
September 4th, 2009

final_destination

Rating: 1/10

Director: David R. Ellis
Writers: Eric Bress (written by), Jeffrey Reddick (characters)
Cast: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, Haley Webb, Mykelti Williamson

Now the fourth installment in the series, THE FINAL DESTINATION takes audiences on another thrill-filled tale, in which death uses Mousetrap-like devices and MacGyver-like instincts to off yet another group of unfortunate, doomed souls. This time around death takes a trip to the races, as a group of unassuming, seemingly unconnected people escape near-demise as a fiery crash claims the lives of those around them at a Nascar race. And so, as the story goes, they escape death, thanks to young Nick O'Bannon's (Bobby Campo) premonitions...or so they think! You know how the rest of the story goes.

And that is exactly the problem with THE FINAL DESTINATION. We do know exactly how the rest of the story goes. What was once seemingly original with the first film and somewhat campy and enjoyable with the second, has now been completely bludgeoned to death in the fourth film. Not too surprising, considering that the film hails from David R. Ellis, the man behind such cinematic masterpieces as CELLULAR and SNAKES ON A PLANE. In fact, FINAL DESTINATION 2, also directed by Ellis, is the most superlative thing listed under his directorial efforts.

Thus, it is a shame that Ellis could not bring to 4 what he did to 2, which was a sense that an actual story was present, as opposed to a carbon copy of the other films. I would not be surprised if they literally used the same script from one of the previous films in order to save money and paper, crossing out the old deaths with new, less clever ones. The deaths at least used to seem somewhat mysterious and supernatural. Instead, we are now left with blatantly obvious ones, as if Death is now played by Kevin Bacon from HOLLOW MAN. It feels more like he is tiptoeing around, loosening screws and sawing chair legs so they break easier, like an invisible Kevin McCallister.

But Ellis is not all to blame. This film's failings are equally to the fault of screenwriter Eric Bress, who is also responsible for FINAL DESTINATION 2. Together, Bress and Ellis seem to be aiming for their writing and their direction to feel like they have actually connected the story boards in a "cohesive" way so that they may bounce from death to death without it appearing like they just sat around and came up with a series of unfortunate events or "cool, gory, action-filled deaths." Unfortunately, this is exactly what it feels like.

Bress offers us little in the way of character development, or story development, in any way. The most depth and development we get out of THE FINAL DESTINATION is the oddly placed racist remarks, that seemingly are included to say something about racism, yet just come off as using it as a comedic device. I am still scratching my head about this one.

As for Ellis, he relies on the use of 3D as a crutch to excuse just plain poor filmmaking. Countless people will flock to the theaters to see the film. Why? Solely because it is in 3D, which offers the experience of feeling like the sharp object is going to stab you in the eye. This is something reserved for the theme park, not the theater. While 3D can be fun and add to the overall cinematic experience, it should be used to improve upon a story, not mask the fact that it is a bad film, has no story, and would be considerably lacking in appeal without the 3D.

Furthermore, in terms of production value, the film has the look and feel of a movie you may catch on the Disney Channel. Luckily for Ellis, he found actors and a writer whose talent fits right in line with this. In this case, I'll take PHANTOM OF THE MEGAPLEX over THE FINAL DESTINATION: PHANTOM OF THE MOUSETRAP (new from Hasbro, now in stores) any day.

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