Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Thin White Dude's Reviews - Final Destination 5

Directed by: Steven Quayle

Produced by: Craig Perry
Warren Zide

Screenplay by: Eric Heisserer

Based on: Characters by Jeffrey Reddick

Starring: Nicholas D'Agosto
Emma Bell
Miles Fisher
Arlan Escarpeta
David Koechner
Tony Todd

Music by: Brian Tyler

Cinematography by: Brian Pearson

Editing by: Eric Sears

Studio: New Line Cinema
Practical Pictures

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release date(s): August 12, 2011

Running time: 92 minutes

Country: United States

Language: English

Budget: $40-$45 million

Gross revenue (as of publication): $41, 359, 945

Hola, me llamo Thin White Dude, and I am corresponding after having seen Pedro Almodovar's latest film, The Skin I Live In. That will be the next film to be reviewed on this blog, so expect to see that in the next three or four days. Also, last night I watched Wong Kar-Wai's Days Of Being Wild and really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, I have not got down to watching many of his films, despite 'In the mood for love' being one of my all-time favourite films, so I'm definitely going to have to do some catching up on this director, and from the evidence of these two films, I'd sincerely recommend that you lot (if there is indeed a 'lot) follow suit.

Today's film for review is an interesting case. Final Destination 5 is the fifth in the horror film series, following on from what was billed as 'The Final Destination.' At the best of times, I'm not fussed on excessive amounts of sequels, but when you make a statement that this is definitively the last film, starting it up again is lame. The Friday The 13th series done it as well at Chapter 4 aka 'The Final Chapter' and went on to do seven more films before the inevitable remake! Also, though of course it was a great pleasure to be in the company of my good friend and fellow film critic Daniel Kelly (Danland Movies), I groaned in displeasure when I saw those big shiny space goggles that told me that I was going to be watching the film in 3D. As I am very short-sighted, in order to see the screen correctly, I have to place the 3D glasses over my own pair, so this can be quite a nuisance in the cinema. Furthermore, though I was glad to have a free seat, another reason to grumble arose when saw the dreaded words of 'Cool FM,' they of the esteemed Pete Snodden, he who laughs at Phil Collins fans (screw you!), indicating that this was going to be a roller derby to find seats, with the ever tedious and mundane prize giveaway/introductions and containing numerous shushes, huffs, puffs, grunts and groans on my part telling a noisy audience to shut up! On another note, there is no point in getting into plot details, as it's the same ball-game in this Final Destination. Although I am grateful to Mr Kelly for inviting me as his guest to this screening, I was bracing myself for a migrainous occasion.

If you count a lot of pokey things coming out at you as migrainous, then you're in for a rough ride. That said, the 3D in this film is implemented in such a way that it is very entertaining, and caters completely to the novelty factor that comes with a 3D film. Unlike those retro-fitted 3D movies, this was shot and designed as a 3D film. Director Steven Quayle was the second unit director of Avatar, and it seems that this gave him an appropriate crash course in how to do the job. As such, Final Destination 5 has a bit of an extra 'oomph!' that a lot of other 3D films don't. Cinematographer Brian Pearson does a wonderful job of shooting the various scenarios that our characters end up in. The greatest instance of this is the scene involving one of the characters, a gymnast, practices on a horse with a small nail having fallen from the air conditioning system above, in what is a strong synthesis of fine choreography and cinematography. With this being a 3D film, one would expect so good visual effects, and Final Destination 5 certainly has them. The bridge collapse at the start of the film which sets the cogs in motion is one of the strongest effect's scene's I have seen from this year. On a final note, despite my reservations, I must say that the film is thoroughly entertaining. Although there is a confusion at times, I think this time they cater towards a more tongue-in-cheeek form of Final Destination that does work. They are still intense, but this film is a lot funnier and darkly comic than the previous instalments, which started to run dry as the same formula was played over again. This time, although at it's base the formula is the same, they do something not unlike Scream and play up the whole absurdity of the film.

Whilst Final Destination 5 is definitely a pleasant surprise of a film, there are a number of big problems with the film. The first of these is the acting in the film. Despite P.J. Byrne, David Koechner and Tony Todd giving good performances, these are only minor roles, and the primary cast members are all round terrible. I never bought Nicholas D'Agosto as the lead in this film, and Emma Bell, who I really liked in Frozen last year, delivers a cardboard cutout performance. Worst of all is Miles Fishers, though to be fair he is given what has to be this year's worst character arc. The emotional scale that he has to go through is ridiculous. Brian Tyler delivers a bad score for this film. Although he has done good work in the past, this time round he delivers a murder-by-numbers work that seems almost like it has sampled from the textbook of horror film scores. Worst of all of these problems is the script. Eric Heisserer, who wrote last year's terrible A Nightmare Of Elm Street remake, has scribed what is an unashamedly bad script. The Final Destination series has always been about the death scenes, but never is the case more so than here. Outside of these scenes, some of which are well-written, some not, we are given a shoddy excuse for a plot that does nothing to further the series and instead seems like something we have all seen before. Also, the characters in the film aren't even cliched in the best sense of the word, but seem like an exaggerated parody of the horror film scenario. Despite the tongue in cheek nature of the film, there is an obvious confusion of genres, and the film does on occasion take itself too seriously. What worries me is that Heisserer has wrote the script for Strike Entertainment's upcoming prequel to John Carpenter's The Thing, arguably Carpenter's best film, and from the evidence of Nightmare and this film, I'd be cautious of having him write the phonebook.

That said, while Final Destination 5 is undoubtedly a bad film, a terrible film perhaps in the aesthetic or artistic sense of the word, with shoddy acting, a by-the-book score and a poor script, it certainly gets high marks on the entertainment value. It is comparable to the kind of experience you would get in one of those simulator machines you climb into in the fun fair, except it lasts for an hour-and-a-half. The 3D works brilliantly in the film, giving you plenty of icky 'ooh's', 'ahh's' and at least one 'holy shit' moment. Visual effects, choreography and cinematography ensure that the film has a strong, if stylised visual trademark look that is consistent throughout. Finally, from this work, even if it is nuts-and-bolts, Steven Quayle has a career in delivering efficient novelty films such as this. Final Destination 5 is a bad film, but surprisingly, it is transparent enough so that one can appreciate it for the entertaining, gimmicky flick that it is.

The Thin White Dude's Prognosis - 6.0/10

The Thin White Dude's Self-Diagnosis - Content (I'd like to think so, being my birthday and all. Happy Birthday Me!)

P.S. Gag of the night to Daniel Kelly, whose theory that the series essentially proves that the world is a series of elaborate traps not unlike the game Mousetrap elicited guffaws from bottom of my stomach. Good on you Zeke!

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