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Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.44%
Worth A Look: 7.32%
Just Average39.02%
Pretty Crappy: 34.15%
Sucks: 17.07%

5 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Final Destination 5
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Bridge Over Troubled Waters"
2 stars

Of all the horror franchises that have emerged in the last couple of decades to entertain less discriminating teenagers, gross out their parents and send film buffs into a hand-wringing frenzy bemoaning the devolution of a once-proud genre, my vote for the least entertaining of the bunch would probably go to the seemingly endless and title-defying “Final Destination” series, a string of films that have repeatedly taken a seemingly surefire premise and repeatedly run it into the ground with an approach so utterly lacking in creativity that they make the “Friday the 13th” series look like bastions of creativity by comparison. The latest, “Final Destination 5,” is yet again more of the same and while it has been made with just enough style to arguably make it the best of the series to date, that still doesn’t make it good by any stretch of the imagination and it is hard to imagine even hardcore fans of the franchise--such people presumably exist, though I can’t imagine any circumstance in which I would want to meet any of them in person--regarding it as anything more than yet another trip to a well that dried up a long time ago.

For those of you whose lives have been filled with enough joy, happiness and love that you just haven’t had the time or inclination to sit through any of the previous “Final Destination” films, I will take a moment to offer up a quick primer of the proceedings, a series of events as ritualized as any religious ceremony, albeit with either more or less nudity and violence, depending on your particular affiliation, of course. They start off as an ordinary dope suddenly has a long and gruesome vision of a horrible disaster in which they and several others are killed in a variety of gory ways. The unexpected seers snap to at the last second and manage to get themselves and a few others to safety before the catastrophe occurs for real, thereby cheating death. Alas, it seems that Death is essentially a homicidal bookkeeper and in a concerted effort to balance the books, those survivors begin to meet their grisly demises in manners so convoluted and elaborate that Rube Goldberg himself might have suggested taking it down a notch. (To change things up a bit, one death usually dispenses with the setup and just goes for the punch line as quickly as possible.) As the body count mounts, the dwindling pool of survivors begin to detect a pattern as to the order in which they are dying (in general, the less attractive cast members go first) and try to figure out a way of outwitting Death and keeping their lives. In the big, bloody climax, (Spoiler Alert!) the two best-looking cast members appear to have survived but in the inevitably nasty coda, they discover the hard way that nobody cheats Death. Oh yeah, familiar genre face Tony Todd also pops up for a scene or two to say enigmatic things about mortality in exchange for beer and burger money.

By now, the format is so ritualized that what screenwriter Eric Heisserer is required to do in order to fulfill his duties and collect his paycheck is akin to filling out the world’s ickiest Mad Lib. This time around, the film starts as a group of people taking a bus to a corporate retreat are stuck on a suspension bridge that is undergoing repairs when amiable dope Sam (Nicholas D’Agosto) begins to have the kind of horrific visions of disaster that I undergo every single time I cross any sort of bridge. He manages to get a few co-workers off--estranged girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell), sleazy pal Peter (Miles), superstitious gymnast Candice (Ellen Wroe), near-sighted hottie Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood), office perv Isaac (P.J. Byrne), token minority character Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta) and dimwit boss Dennis (David Koechner)--before the bridge collapses for real and when their story hits the media, they are branded the Lucky 8. Soon afterwards, they begin meeting their makers in the messiest ways available--even messier now thanks to the miracle of 3-D. Without going into too much detail, the deaths this time involve gymnastics, ill-advised jaunts for acupuncture and laser eye surgery and a bad day at the factory. (It should be noted that Death is aided immeasurably by workplace conditions so ridiculously unsafe in all possible ways that I can imagine OSHA officials using the film as erotica.) Eventually, the dwindling pool of survivors discover that if they can pull it together to kill another person, those poor saps will replace them in the grim cycle of death and they will get to live out whatever time their victims had left--some will be horrified by such a notion while some begin to think that it might not be a bad deal after all. Inevitably, it ends in an orgy of death and destruction in which all the really unlikable characters are thoroughly dispatched once and for all while the slightly less unlikable ones are allowed to delude themselves about their future happiness for a few moments getting smacked in the coda (and not in the good way).

Like all the previous installments, “Final Destination 5” is little more than a cinematic geek show that has nothing more on its mind than presenting viewers with a string of bloody death scenes in which paper-thin characters are folded, spindled, mutilated, burnt, stabbed, shot, crushed, bisected or some combination therein. Since the characters are not interesting at all--each one is allotted maybe one personality trait and fail to make much of even that--and since it is a near-certainty that each of the big set-pieces will end with one of them shuffling off this mortal coil despite their best efforts, there is nothing even remotely resembling suspense to be had on display. All it can really do is jolt viewers with sudden bursts of violence designed to make them reflexively jump in their seats and while that may work once or twice, it takes an exceptionally skilled filmmaker to successfully pull off that lone trick throughout the course of an entire feature film and director Steven Quale (a former second-unit director for James Cameron who previously helmed the Cameron-produced documentary “Aliens of the Deep”) is not that guy. And yet, while “Final Destination 5” is terrible throughout and not worth seeing under virtually any circumstances, I must admit in all fairness that it does contain a few moments of interest. As someone with a lifelong fear of bridges of every kind (save for Jeff and Lloyd, of course), I was indeed writhing in my seat throughout the opening sequence while it illustrated what I am fully convinced happens on such structures virtually every day of the week. Along those same lines, as someone who has worn glasses for a long time and who is therefore sensitive to anything involving eyeballs, the laser eye surgery sequence also provides a few squirmy moments. While the cast, save for David Koechner, is the usually allotment of attractive nobodies who have not necessarily been chosen for their thespic abilities, I should note that as the victim of the fermented eye surgery gone wrong, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood is certainly a looker, though she herself can’t exactly say the same by the climax of her big scene. And while I wouldn’t dream of even hinting as to what transpires, I must confess that the coda that has been designed this time around is actually reasonably clever for once.

Look, I don’t have a problem with films that are little more than strung-together scenes in which people get killed in extremely bloody and highly choreographed ways--two of my favorite filmmakers are Brian De Palma and Dario Argento and they more or less built their entire careers on doing just that. However, what really irritates me about the “Final Destination” films is that if the producers just put a little more time and effort into them instead of just going the formulaic route every time out, they might actually come up with something memorable instead of the junky multiplex fodder that they have continually offered up time after time because they know that viewers will still flock to them. If I were suddenly given the power to make such a film in any manner that I chose, I would go the omnibus route and try to hire a number of skilled directors like De Palma, Argento, John Carpenter, John Landis and other along those lines and give each of them their own sequence to do--the results would hardly be any more incoherent than they are now and they would almost have to be more stylish and entertaining than anything in the earlier films. (Hell, they could even bring in mumblecore icon Joe Swanberg to do a scene involving two people sitting in a room that ends with them boring each other to death, especially if Greta Gerwig is involved somehow.) Of course, such a thing will never happen in our lifetimes but it does give you something to think about and trust me, if you are somehow stuck in a theater watching “Final Destination 5,” you will enjoy the distraction.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20775&reviewer=389
originally posted: 08/11/11 16:53:15
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the Fantasia International Film Festival 2011 series, click here.

User Comments

7/28/12 cr somewhat predictable but still very entertaining! 3 stars
10/25/11 ashley rexrode no good actors. not too bad during the death scenes though 3 stars
9/26/11 sake02mo The best part in every Final Destination is the first 15 min. 4 stars
9/20/11 Scotty Uh the roller coaster was awesome it was the racetrack that sucked 4 stars
9/10/11 Captain00Kirk Bad acting, ok deths. www.youtube.com/Captain00Kirk 3 stars
9/09/11 b0SamueL0b +z$8frZdyL%68pSU/:>w<:E3.lG-!XIB 5 stars
8/28/11 Life of Brian Utter trash 1 stars
8/15/11 karamashi This summer's Piranha 3-D. Gory, Funny, and just plain fun. 4 stars
8/12/11 DIET CUPCAKE It is too short, and it doesn't worth the money, I give a $5.00 price with free 3D glasses. 2 stars
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  12-Aug-2011 (R)
  DVD: 27-Dec-2011


  DVD: 27-Dec-2011

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