(Part 1 of a two-part article. Please see the link at bottom of page for part 2. Final Destination 5 in 3-D is playing locally in Seattle at AMC Pacific Place 11 and at AMC Loews Oak Tree 6. In Bellevue it is playing at Lincoln Square Cinemas. To purchase tickets in advance visit Fandango.)
2000’s Final Destination was a breath of fresh air. The film was clearly marketable to the teen market, along with other horror flicks of the time, including Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer and their sequels. Yet the concept was fiercely original. In Final Destination a group of teens are preparing to travel to France for a graduation class trip. After boarding the plane (Flight 180) lead character Alex Browning (actor Devon Sawa) has a premonition in a dream that the plane crashes, killing all on board. He scrambles to get off the plane, with a few of his fellow students and teachers also forced off the flight.
Flight 180 crashes of course, and the rest of the film is sort of a supernatural thriller, as Death seeks to kill off the survivors, one by one for “cheating death”. The deaths were wildly imaginative and challenging to film, involving water leaks, fires, freak car accidents, electrical shortages, beheadings, and on and on. The movie is unique in that the viewer knows everyone will die at some point, it’s just a matter of how. And Death is not a human character; it is merely a supernatural force, neither good nor evil. The movie if effective in part because many people believe that deaths do happen for a reason and that everyone has a time to die.
The sequels to Final Destination all followed the exact formula, with some minor twists, and have made for a relatively stable and successful franchise. Instead of dying in a plane crash, each sequel has been designed around a different tragedy. Final Destination 2 involved a devastating freeway pileup, Final Destination 3 a freak rollercoaster accident, The Final Destination a race-car mashup, and now a bridge collapse for Final Destination 5 in 2011.
Final Destination 5 starts off on a sour note, simply because the bridge collapse seems so contrived and unlikely. Also, the characters in FD 5 are much less dynamic than in previous sequels. Nonetheless, FD 5 serves up some memorable death scenes, one in an acupuncture accident and another during a gymnastics meet. To top it off there’s even a laser eye surgery death, probably a film first. The big “plot twist” of FD 5 is that we are led to believe that one can trick Death by taking the life of someone else. One character, Peter Friedkin (actor Miles Fisher), becomes obsessed with this idea, which makes for an intriguing subplot as he tries to kill some of the other characters. It’s an interesting plot device, but thankfully not too much time is devoted to it before we also see Peter’s death.
(For part 2 of this article please see Final Destination 5 meets expectations, part 2)
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