After becoming wisely self-aware in its third installment, the “Final Destination” franchise has taken the tongue that was firmly planted in cheek and impaled it on a 3D stick. Everything takes a back seat to the effects here, and that is the rule of 3D, but is that the right play? As Roger Ebert once said, the effect alone doesn’t matter, but whether the audience cares about the effect. When it comes to “The Final Destination,” the answer to that question is a resounding ‘no.’
The movie takes place at a well-worn race track, where Nick (Bobby Campo), his girlfriend Lori (Shantel VanSanten), and two friends are watching a NASCAR race. Nick has a horrific vision of a series of events that leads to the deaths of dozens of people. He urges his friends, and his insistence inspires a few bystanders, to leave at once, and within seconds after leaving, his premonition comes true. However, Death is not content to let his victims get away, and the survivors soon suffer equally horrific accidents, in the order that they were originally “supposed” to die.
The premise, as you can see, is identical to the other “Final Destination” movies, with one added detail: Nick continues to have visions before each person’s death, though he doesn’t see any of the details well enough to know which survivor is next or where it will take place. This gives director David R. Ellis, who helmed “Final Destination 2” as well as the immortal “Snakes on a Plane,” the opportunity to go nuts with the 3D – he even has a snake slither to the tip of your nose, yuk yuk – but these sequences wipe out the tension of the death scenes before they even have a chance to build, since the audience now has an idea of how the next person will bite it. The dialogue is also painfully bad, even by “Final Destination” standards (and padded with unnecessary ethnic slurs, to boot). The acting isn’t much better,
In fact, the best part of the movie is the opening credits, where Ellis uses X-ray-type graphics to re-enact deaths from the first three movies. (Strangely, the best death from “Final Destination 2,” involving the teenager and the sheet of glass, was not included.) Ellis also sets up a Sam Raimi-type kill shot that was good for a laugh. Most of the death scenes, however, are just lame, and writer Eric Bress inserts an awkward, self-referential scene in a 3D movie theater that’s as subtle as a sledgehammer. He also recycles at least two weapons from previous installments, though one of them is admittedly a classic. It doesn’t appear that a lot of thought was put into “The Final Destination,” outside of the 3D. It is this approach to moviemaking that causes 3D to go out of style almost as soon as it’s back in style, and it’s surprising to see New Line handle one of their most profitable franchises so carelessly. Of course, New Line is a shell of the company it was when the first “Final Destination” debuted, so in a way it makes sense that this installment would be equally vacant.(2 / 5)