FINAL DESTINATION ($25) is a very cool and intelligent little horror movie that got snubbed by the critics because of its genre affiliation. With X-FILES alumnus James Wong and Glen Morgan behind the camera, FINAL DESTINATION proves to be genuinely creepy and definitely unlike the typical teen horror flick. Instead of the usual crazed killer slicing up sexually promiscuous teens, death itself comes to stalk the protagonists of FINAL DESTINATION.
FINAL DESTINATION stars Devon Sawa as Alex Browning, a high school student who is about to embark with a group of his classmates on a school trip to Paris. Alex uneasily boards flight 180, however prior to takeoff, he has a very detailed premonition that the airplane will explode shortly after leaving the ground. Scared out of his wits, Alex causes a commotion on the plane, which ends with him, five of his classmates and one teacher being ejected from the aircraft. Unfortunately, Alex’s horrifying premonition comes true and flight 180 explodes into a fireball moments after takeoff. The survivors are horrified and become somewhat wary of Alex, since he predicted the plane’s demise. Alex’s premonition also brings him under the scrutiny of the FBI, although the agency unsure what part he may have played in the destruction of flight 180. The preliminary investigation indicates that the explosion was an accident, which seems to clear Alex as a suspect with the FBI. However, things take an unexpected turn when the survivors of the flight 180 disaster begin dying in bizarre and grisly way. Alex comes to see the deaths as more than mere coincidence, and then begins to realize that none of them were meant to leave flight 180 before takeoff. Although death is a force that no one should be able to escape, Alex is able to figure out death’s plan, which gives him and his fellow survivors at least a chance of sidestepping the Grim Reaper.
Director/co-writer James Wong creates an uneasy tension throughout FINAL DESTINATION, which make the audience hold on for dear life, as they take this little joyride with death at the wheel. The film’s special effects are pretty intense, especially the premonition sequence aboard the aircraft- this frightening sequence will definitely haunt you the next time you take a flight anywhere. FINAL DESTINATION also features solid performances from a cast that includes Ali Larter, Kerr Smith, Kristen Cloke, Daniel Roebuck, Roger Guenveur Smith, Chad Donella, Seann William Scott, Amanda Detmer and Brendan Fehr. Look for well-known genre personality Tony Todd in a wonderfully morbid little cameo.
New Line Home Video does it again with their Platinum Series DVD release of FINAL DESTINATION- the movie looks and sounds fantastic! FINAL DESTINATION is framed at 1.85:1 and the DVD is enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The transfer is very sharp and very well defined, with absolutely no signs of blemishes or film grain during the presentation. Even the nighttime sequences are rendered with astonishing detail and clarity. Flesh tones are very natural looking, while the rest of the hues appear quite vivid. Blood reds and fiery yellows and oranges are immaculately reproduced, without a hint of smearing. Even the deep greens of the trees look very impressive. Blacks are absolutely perfect, plus the image displays excellent contrast and tremendous depth. Flawless authoring keeps digital compression artifacts from marring this supernaturally good video presentation.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is first class all the way. There is aggressive sound effects usage during the film’s climatic moments, which takes advantage of all the discrete channels. Separations are as clear and wide in the split surrounds, as it is in the forward soundstage. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and precise, with none of the actors voices ever seeming muffled by any of the other sounds in the mix. Bass is very full and authoritative; enhancing all the crashes and explosions found in the film. Shirley Walker’s creepy musical score is really a winner, and is one of the things that will help to make FINAL DESTINATION a minor genre classic a few years down the road. Fortunately here, the sound mixers recognized the power of Walker’s score, so the sound is balanced to keep the music in the forefront, without it overwhelming any other aspect of the soundtrack. An English Dolby Surround soundtrack is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English subtitles.
FINAL DESTINATION features appropriately weird, but cool, interactive menus that utilize animation and sound for the interface. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice array of supplements. FINAL DESTINATION includes two running audio commentaries, the first features director/co-writer James Wong, co-writer/producer Glen Morgan, editor James Coblentz, and co-writer Jeffrey Reddick, while the second track features actors Devon Sawa, Kerr Smith, Chad Donella and Kristen Cloke. Both commentaries have their merits; the first covers the technical side of the production, while the second is a very loose and funny look back on the making of the film. FINAL DESTINATION also features a third isolated soundtrack, this one being Shirley Walker’s impressive musical score in 5.1 channel surround. Between musical passages, Ms. Walker also has the opportunity to offer fans a bit of commentary featuring her own insights into the movie and musical scoring. Also included on the DVD is a very interesting featurette that takes a look at how the test screening process, ultimately changed FINAL DESTINATION from the form the filmmakers envisioned to the final cut that appeared in movie theaters. Another featurette takes a look at a real live psychic, whose own premonitions have helped the police solve, a number of cases. There are a number of deleted scenes from FINAL DESTINATION presented on the DVD, including the original ending of the film. This footage is also featured in the test screening featurette. There are two interactive games on the DVD, one of which called "Death Clock" will creep out more sensitive individuals. A theatrical trailer and cast filmographies fill out the supplements. FINAL DESTINATION is also DVD-ROM enabled and will allow those with a properly configured PC to read the film’s screenplay and access a copy of the film’s original web site from the disc.
FINAL DESTINATION is creepy horror entertainment that genre fans are certain to enjoy, plus the DVD looks and sounds frighteningly good. Definitely recommended to anyone who likes to be scared, without having his or her intelligence insulted.
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