For whatever reason, I, I
saw Death's plan.
FINAL DESTINATION ($29) 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, as well as 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 Entertainment has made FINAL DESTINATION available on Blu-ray Disc in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the VC-1 codec. The 1080p presentation is nice, but FINAL DESTINATION is far from high definition demonstration material. For the most part, FINAL DESTINATION looks good, but a tad under-resolved. Is this another case of too much digital processing, diffusion lenses and smoke in the cinematography or a combination of factors? My money is on a little from column "A" and a little from column "B." Certainly not a trip to the waxworks, but FINAL DESTINATION doesn’t crackle with sharpness and image detail the way the very best hi-def presentations do. Colors fare better, coming across with a good level of intensity and natural looking flesh tones. Blacks appear accurate, as do the whites. Contrast is just fine, but the level of shadow detail won’t have anyone turning cartwheels. The elements from which FINAL DESTINATION has been mastered don’t demonstrate any significant flaws. Modest grain remains apparent in the image.
FINAL DESTINATION is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. The soundtrack presentation is superior to the video, offering a nice upgrade with the lossless encode. Sure, the sound isn’t as good as a newer track, but it certainly holds its own and offers a nice punch at key moments. Sound effects placement is well done, with all of the outlying channels seeing their share of activity. Creepy bits of atmosphere and the occasional zinger utilize the soundstage quite well. Fidelity is strong and I have to admit I really like Shirley Walker’s eerie score more than ever, thanks to the lossless presentation. Walker’s music remains one of the highlights of the film. The bass channel adds the necessary weight and impact. Dialogue reproduction is crisp and precise, with none of the actors voices ever seeming muffled by any of the other sounds in the mix. English Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Surround tracks have also been provided, as have English, Spanish and German subtitles.
The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplements that have been ported over from the DVD release of the film. Starting things off are two running Audio Commentaries; the first is with 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. Featurettes include the following programs: The Perfect Soufflé: Testing Final Destination runs thirteen minutes and 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. Premonitions clocks in at twenty minutes and offers a look at a real live psychic, whose own premonitions have helped the police solve, a number of cases. Some Deleted Scenes and an Alternate Ending close out the supplements.
FINAL DESTINATION remains creepy horror entertainment that genre fans will enjoy. The Blu-ray presentation is nice, but a bit unremarkable in comparison to other high definition offerings. Longtime fans will most likely want to book this flight with the appropriate frequent flyer discount.
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