Friday, May 19, 2017

Franchise Run-Through - Final Destination

Time for another entry today, and this time we're taking a look at yet another franchise that I have managed to get through in its entirety which is one of the most important parts of going through these retrospectives. Today, we're going to look at the franchise Final Destination.

As usual, that means we start at the beginning and how the franchise got its start. The original idea was written by Jeffrey Reddick as a spec script for The X-Files in order to get a TV agent. "I was actually flying home to Kentucky and I read a story about a woman who was on vacation and her mom called her and said, 'Don’t take the flight tomorrow, I have a really bad feeling about it.’ She switched flights and the plane that she would have been on crashed," said Reddick. "I thought, that’s creepy; what if she was supposed to die on that flight?"

Building on his idea, Reddick wrote the script and got an agent, but never submitted the script to the show after a colleague at New Line Cinema suggested he write it as a feature film. One of the biggest misconceptions about the project is that it was based on the real-life disaster of TWA Flight 800 that occurred in 1996. Like in the movie, the TWA disaster involved a Boeing 747 that exploded after take-off from JFK International Airport in New York en route to Paris. Moreover, five chaperones and sixteen high school students from Montoursville, Pennsylvania, were aboard the doomed flight, heading to Paris with their high school French club. The TV spec script for The X-Files, however, was actually written in 1994. New Line Cinema bought Jeffrey's treatment and hired him to write the original draft of the script, which featured Death as an unseen force. After the script was finished, New Line Cinema submitted the script to directors, including writing partners James Wong and Glen Morgan. Both writers were willing to make it into a film, although they rewrote the script to comply with their standards.

Now, there are some other interesting tidbits to speak out about in terms of the franchise. One of the most prominent aspects of the first film to come out was the media's insistence on calling these particular type of films under the title 'Dead Teenager Movies,' which was denoted to mean that a cast that was deemed to be 'teenagers' in mortal peril with a general aim directly at the teens they were supposedly portraying. They were intended to be slick, glossy studio productions filled with a glamorous, appealing cast of recognizable and up-and-coming faces that are put into peril and forced to battle a big deadly threat as a result. A pretty popular term at the time of its release, this term was designated to appeal to films that basically equate to sheer stupidity on the stars to force themselves into dangerous situations where they're graphically killed in over-the-top manners which are what the sole purpose of the film is clearly built around. Although there were a few earlier films retconned into the genre afterward, it took off after the release of this film as the term grew in popularity based on the success of the film, and while it's no longer as impacted as it was in the heyday a few films trickle out ever year or so which is what keeps the term in use. Likewise, this is also one of the few genres to display a sense of humor within the genre by having every single character granted with a surname to have one designated from a horror film director. Not all characters have one, but those that do have one taken from the genres' past which is a somewhat nice, humorous touch.

Now, as for my personal history with these films, again there's not a whole lot to tell here. This one went pretty much straight-on through in order of release, although there's one rather intriguing bit of useless trivia here with the franchise as part 1 was the first horror film I ever bought personally on VHS. I did have films on VHS before I bought that one, but part 1 is the first one I actually bought with my own money rather than accepting a trade-off from a friend or stealing it from my school's library, which did happen once and I actually found a replacement copy of that film back on the shelf a week later as the clerk that actually forgot if they had it or not and didn't even know that was in the system so no harm was done. However, beyond that, there's not a whole lot else to say here as this one has quite a simple story, a franchise where I've seen the entire series of entries in the order of their release without any skipped over or missed out on.

So, with that out of the way, let's get on with the films.

Final Destination

This here ended up being quite the impressive and enjoyable effort. Among the numerous qualities here is the fact that there's a lot of high-quality suspense here since there's a lot of focus on the ploy of not knowing when and where Death is going to strike. That makes a big part of the film about the accidental nature of the setups here, so the random strikes and future visions here become all that more impressive and chilling while managing to offer the kind of necessary action-packed sequences that keep the pace charging along. Along with the strong manner of storyline tactics that bring about the way it portrays the character of Death and some solid gory kills, these here make this enjoyable enough to hold out over the film's lone flaw. There's almost nothing to like here about the federal investigation which gets tiring with all the different interludes fingering him without too much real info to do that with. This does bring it down somewhat but is the only real issue here. (9.25/10)

Final Destination 2

This one was an immensely enjoyable sequel that really rivals the original. Among the better qualities here is that this one manages to really portray a truer sense of dread and suspense about the situation. This one really bridges that concept about the surroundings really affecting everyday life from the first one even further here by making the accidents seem that they're simply, truly accidents brought about through actual, honest coincidences. This is compounded by the tendency to showcase the warning signs as the suspenseful nature of these supposed encounters is incredible foreshadowing on what's going to happen, and the fact that there are some rather creepy moments from these issues makes this quite fun. The film's best feature, though, is based off the most impressive part of the story here in its really freaky action-packed encounters here that really give this one plenty of impressive, stylized sequences which are a huge step-up from the original. Along with the fun, over-the-top kills that are present here these here are the film's good points which hold off the few flaws here. It's all in the finale here which really seems to meander around with numerous side-plots, rather middling suspense scenes and the rare occasions where the traps just seem contrived and the whole affair seems to be quite the letdown from what came before it. Otherwise, this one was quite the impressive enough sequel. (9.5/10)

Final Destination 3

Overall this was quite an enjoyable and wholly entertaining part of the series. Like with the others, what really works well here is the setup for the initial premonition, as the scenery at the carnival is quite well-handled and really amps up the suspense in here. There's also the film's best part here with its spectacular action scenes really carrying this one along with the absolutely thrilling crash scene that comes off incredibly well and even plausible as to how the crash could occur in real like taken to an extreme, and the later encounters offers plenty of big action. There's also plenty of tension throughout here with all the different potential hazards at play before getting to the crazy death scenes, and along with the usual high-quality gore for the kills, these here make this one quality enough to hold off the few small flaws here. The main issue here is that there's very little set-up for the kills which are just so quick and over so briefly that they don't have much in the way of suspense about them. This is compounded by the other factor here with the lame mystery about the photographs not being all that well-handled and it just doesn't have much intrigue about them. These here are what hold this one down. (8.75/10)

The Final Destination

This one wasn't that bad. Aside from several personal indiscretions the film, like the blatant and retarded 3D gags, woeful CGI and sloppiness merely there to set up the death that wouldn't happen that way in real life, which is one of the biggest set of problems in this one. The brevity is to be commended as it doesn't overstay it's welcome, there are some ingenious attempts at suspense beneath the dirge of crap hurled at the screen and it's opening crash is pretty cool. As well, the majority of the film focusing on the series of accidents that befall the group enables for quite a spectacular pace as it moves along quite nicely from one outlandish set-up to the next and provides plenty of exciting moments along throughout here. This is way better than expected, although it's still flawed. (8.75/10)

Final Destination 5

As much as I wanted to absolutely love this one, there's still a few problems here that need to be mentioned. The new twist on the hero's plight doesn't make much sense, for something as supposedly vicious and cruel as what's stalking the heroes to just roll over like it does here with this new twist doesn't really make any sense at all, for that changes around the entire purpose of the events that transpire, and that also ends up giving us the finale in the restaurant which has no business being here and nearly ruins the film on its own just for its inclusion. It's also much to laid back about going after them once they've survived, taking forever to start knocking them off and we get way too much time with their personal lives here, making it way too boring. The deaths are still a lot of fun (if a bit hokey at times in the Rube Goldbergian-ness of their set-ups) the gore is spectacular and the suspense is decently handled. All in all, a pretty decent entry if not overly spectacular. (9/10)

As for the rankings:
1. Final Destination 2 (9.5)
2. Final Destination (9.25)
3. Final Destination 5 (9)
4. Final Destination 3 (8.75)
5. The Final Destination (8.75)

And that wraps up another look back into the different franchises within the genre. I know that some out there want this series to be resurrected and continued to this day, and personally, it's not the worst idea out there. As well, it's worth mentioning here that this one definitely has more in terms of other media out there, with two lines of comic book runs telling similar stories to the films' proper, as well as a set of novels that were initially reprintings of the first few films before they started in on their own individual, unique stories which were popular enough to spawn a few entries before that line was discontinued. These won't be covered as they're not movies which is what this site is about, but as usual a mention of them is required and is thus duly noted here.

Thanks for reading, and I'll see you all next time.