Friday, April 24, 2009

Under-rated Trilogies - Final Destination

Final Destination (2000)
Back before the new millennium dawned upon us I was an avid viewer of creepy TV shows, such as Millennium, The X-Files, The Others and The Wonder Cabinet. These shows all had one thing in common; writers James Wong and Glen Morgan. The talent of these writers left no doubt in my mind that they would make the jump to the big screen and Final Destination is the result of this. Alex and his friends are about to take a school trip to France, whilst sitting on the plane awaiting departure Alex has a vision of the plane exploding. As he tries to remove himself from the plane, the resultant fight leaves not only him, but six other members of his class at the airport. Imagine their surprise when Alex's vision proves to be correct and the plane explodes minutes after take-off. The FBI take a keen interest in Alex, but it soon becomes clear that the students have only cheated death temporarily. One by one the survivors of flight 180 are mysteriously killed. The premise of the film may not seem like anything new, but the inventive way in which death takes its victims was quite ingenious.

Final Destination 2 (2003)
On the box office success of the first film, New Line commissioned a sequel, this time however Morgan & Wong where nowhere to be found. That didn't stop the film from coming up with equally imaginative ways to kill off its teen cast, this time after they all avoid being killed in a superbly shot and executed highway accident. Only Clear Rivers survives from the first film, with Alex conveniently bumped off in exposition, though Tony Todd also makes an appearance as the creepy William Bloodworth. The sequel was less about story and more about the death sequences, which I guess had become the gimmick of the series by now anyhow. Even without Morgan and Wong, there was still some casting from their previous television series in the from of Keegan Connor Tracy.

Final Destination 2 was a solid entry to the franchise and what it lacked in story it tried to make up for in ingenuity.

Final Destination 3 (2006)
With Morgan and Wong back behind the camera I was sure this would be a treat, sadly the opening premonition left little to be desired (unless you are afraid of roller coasters) it did up the stakes a little with some of its death sequences, but the real joy of the 3rd installment is the DVD release. Later in the production of the film, there was a little controversy with the studio about the timing and way in which some of the characters were killed. Morgan & Wong decided to release the film the studio wanted, but filmed all of their takes as well. This led to the Choose Their Fate edition of the movie, one of the best interactive features ever to hit DVD. Using seamless branching the film becomes an interactive feature allowing you to make critical choices that can lead to the fate of all of the lead characters. If you choose not to kill any, the film runs for around 24 minutes. The feature includes lots of bonus or alternate takes as well as extended scenes or even different and in some cases worse deaths depending on your choices.

Final Destination 3 was certainly not the highlight of the series, but it does still make a worthy addition.

The future of the series.....
As fate would have it (pardon the pun), a 4th installment is currently in production and in 3D too. Final Destination: Death Trip should be out some time in 4th quarter 2009, it is directed by David R. Ellis (the 2nd films director).

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