Courtney B. Vance, David Koechner, P.J. Byrne, Tony Todd, Arlen Escarpeta, Emma Bell, Nicholas D'Agosto
Eric Heisserer, Gary Dauberman, Jeffrey Reddick (Characters)
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"Circle of Death, Your Final Destination"
Saying that Final Destination 5 is better than Final Destination 4 is kind of like me saying that my second amputation was less painful than my first. It still doesn't mean that, given the choice, I'd choose the second amputation.
If you've loved all the Final Destination films, poor you, then there's almost no doubt that you'll equally embrace this fifth in the series of films. If you've abhorred the Final Destination films, then the fact that #5 is better than #4 is irrelevant ... you will still hate it. I promise.
The truth is I don't really begrudge anyone a good time at a movie theater. I want you to be happy and, sometimes, that means being happy seeing a movie that I just don't give a damn about. Actually, that happens quite often. As is true for most film critics, because we see probably 10-20x more films a year than the average movie-goer, I'm a bit pretentious, demanding and downright picky when it comes to my cinema.
As long as a filmmaker isn't being lazy and isn't desecrating the art of filmmaking, I'm willing to let go of my ego and simply be happy when you find a movie that you enjoy. There are people who enjoy these Final Destination films, and it doesn't matter that the virtually always repeat themselves film after film. It doesn't matter that the acting is modest at best, the script is paint-by-numbers and the special effects, even in 3-D, leave much to be desired.
Final Destination 5 is a 3-D popcorn flick for those who want to spend 90 minutes watching gory deaths and occasionally gruesome objects coming at them on the big screen in 3-D. It has nothing else to offer, but for many who will choose to see it that will be enough.
So be it.
To describe the film's plot is pointless. You know the basic storyline, because it's been the same basic storyline for all five films. Much to my surprise, I enjoyed Final Destination 5 much more than I have the other films including, perhaps, even the first one. That doesn't mean I enjoyed it, but I hated it far less and it irritated me far less. In other words, perhaps director Steven Quale was actually trying a bit here. After an abysmal start, Quale actually gets a bit creative and tosses a few minor variations on the usual Final Destination action and, even more surprising, there's a bit of a twist going on once in awhile in the script by Eric Heisserer, who also penned the 2010 Nightmare on Elm Street redo. For the first time that I can remember, there's actual character development in a Final Destination film. Admittedly, it's fundamental character development but at least it's present.
Nicholas D'Agosto is probably strongest among the cast here, managing to create a sympathetic in a film that's essentially about a series of shocking images and kills. David Koechner acts like this isn't anything but a paycheck film for him, which is most likely just being honest. Horror regular Tony Todd shows up on the scene again, and while he doesn't do anything brilliant he at least does what he always does with that Tony Todd sense of style.
It's perfectly understandable that Warner Brothers didn't bother with excessive pre-marketing for the film, because those who are going to see it are going to see it regardless of what the press says and without giving a hoot about the marketing of the film. Likewise, after four films you already know if you're a fan of the series and there's nothing here that will change your mind either way.
Unless the film completely tanks, Final Destination 5 won't be the final film in the series. This is going to be one cinematic series that will wear out its welcome and its box-office before the studio stops going back to it. For Hollywood, the only real death for a cinematic series is a box-office death. Until then, we'll never really reach the Final Destination.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic