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Final Destination 5 (2011)

August 12, 2011


written by: Eric Heisserer

produced by: Craig Perry & Warren Zine
directed by: Steven Quale
rated R (for strong violent/gruesome accidents, and some language
92 min.
U.S. release date: August 12, 2011
Getting cast in one of the “Final Destination” movies must be an exhilarating and nerve-racking experience. There is likely excitement and anticipation, but “How am I gonna die?” would be the first question that comes to mind. You might wonder what type of bizarre catastrophic accident you will evade, but then you’ll immediately go back to the first question and wonder what random appliance or sharp object will take part in your demise. You may even wonder which body part of yours will go flying into a theatrical audience in 3D.  These aren’t uncommon thoughts or questions, since viewers are wondering the same thing about the short-lived characters on the big-screen. 

These movies aren’t out to make any type of profound statement on death, so it’s hard to get worked up over how gruesome everything is. Oh, there’s still plenty of screaming-out-loud, cringe-worthy visuals to be found in “FD5”, with a vast array of squashing and splattering sounds to be heard. I can attest there was some squirming in the seats at the screening I attended, and just in that right there, the movie does what it’s designed to do. 
With number five, the formula is set and we don’t really care who dies (since there’s really no bother connecting with characters in these movies), just how they go. Still, there’s this unnerving feeling (at least for me) that we shouldn’t be laughing, hooting, and/or hollering as we watch a young girl get skewered by a sail boat mast after she falls from an expansion bridge. I’m just putting it out there. 
The movie starts off with the most annoyingly long and cheesy opening credits I’ve seen all year. As if to remind us that we just put on our 3D glasses on (and also to make sure we know what movie we’re watching), we’re subjected to a variety of objects coming straight at us and then crashing through glass (I guess that part is supposed to be the movie screen?), spraying us with shrapnel. By the time I was done watching: flying skulls and bloody nails, sharp knives and flaming body parts (was that a microwave?), I was really ready to just call it a night. Just like the protagonists from these movies, I felt as if I was having a vision and it was telling me to scram.  
We finally leave this wretched display of cheesy CGI to find ourselves, well, I don’t know. There’s a bunch of young people hanging out in an office building parking lot, all getting ready to board a bus somewhere. The word “retreat” pops up and I can’t tell if this is some church event or a all-day acting retreat. It takes forever to establish that Sam (Nicholas D’Agosta, “Fired Up!”) and Peter (Miles Fisher,  a poor man’s Tom Cruise, ironic since he played the actor in the movie spoof “Superhero Movie”) are co-workers at some paper manufacturing company. More people arrive, a snide boss (David Koechner, playing a variation of a dimbulb role from “The Office”) and Molly (Emma Bell“Frozen” so she knows a thing or two about disasters), who recently broke up with Sam. Peter’s girlfriend Candice (Ellen Wroe, “Garry Unmarried”) shows up just in time to make googily eyes with him (ah, character-establishing fun).  
Still more stereotypical victims, er, co-workers, arrive in the form of Isaac (P. J Byrne“Dinner for Schmucks”), the wanna-be ladies man, Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, “The Bold and the Beautiful”), the requisite hot chick, and finally Nathan (Arlen Escarpeta, 2009’s “Friday the 13th”), apparently the only non-white co-worker.  
As they all board a tour bus, it finally becomes clear that they are going on some kind of corporate team-building retreat. To get to their “destination”, they must cross a massive expansion bridge which is being worked on. Sam flips out after having a horrific vision, witnessing his colleagues dying after the bridge collapses. He gets as many people as he can to flee to safety with him as they watch his vision come to life. Now, since they cheated Death….well, you know the drill. 
Yes, Death is furious at these survivors and is once again coming up with awful and ghastly ways to end their lives. As coroner Bludworth (Tony Todd, “Candyman” reprising his foreboding role from the previous movies) knowingly nods and Agent Block (Courtney B. Vance) is baffled at every turn, Sam and his panicked dead pool crew find a loophole out of doomed destiny. Those double cheaters!  
Do the remaining young and attractive characters have what it takes to make it another sequel? Is the word “Final” in the title? Does New Line Cinema even know what that word means? Do they care? 
Writer Eric Heisserer doesn’t care. He’s the current go-to guy for remakes (last year’s “Nightmare on Elm Street”), prequels (this year’s “The Thing”) and now this sequel. His job is to give a soapy subplot to Sam and Molly and come up with decapitating and impaling deaths. It doesn’t help the film in the least that these young actors range from wooden to awful, a fact that becomes obvious in just the first fifteen minutes. Maybe the goal was to cast bland actors and barely write anything for their characters, so that viewers will feel nothing when it’s time for them to go bye-bye.  
Director Steven Quale has at his disposal a talented visual effects team and knows how to stage suspense successfully. That bridge collapse is quite memorable, despite being pretty disturbing considering such tragedies do occur. Quale also utilizes the 3D gimmick appropriately for the material and the ending has a nice “Final” twist to it.  
But after the movie ends, there is a “greatest hits” video montage of various bloody deaths from the last four films. Set to a blaring AC/DC song, the whole thing fittingly bookends the deplorable opening credits sequence. It’s like we’re all supposed to laugh at random fatal accidents. I get it though, it’s called shock laughter. The kind that occurs when something is so uncomfortably and unbelievably awful, that you laugh because of the outrageousness of it all. Hopefully, when it’s all over and sobering reflection sets in, such a reaction will be seen as shameful. I know it did for me, but I’m in the minority. 




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