Thoughts on the “Final Destination” movies

 

The Final Destination movies are fucking terrible. I just thought you all should know that. But just because they’re bad doesn’t mean they aren’t enjoyable. If you view death as entertainment-and if you’re a horror fan, I’m sure you do-then these are entertaining flicks. But hardly horror classics. Basically what we have in this series is the statement that we all want to see stupid kids die and we don’t really care how.

They’re just like any other slasher series except that they cut out the middle man. I guess creating some memorable horror icon is too hard these days. So let’s just blame it on Death itself. OoooOoOoOoOoOoh!

So you have the cool deaths and that’s about it. And that’s at least effective. The group of movies as a whole plays into our fears of absolute worst case scenarios: What if the plane crashes? What if you get trapped in a tanning bed? What if one of those suction things at the bottom of the pool sucks your intestines out through your butthole? Etc. etc. The 5th movie is out and the possibilities for the series are endless, especially without having that pesky killer character to work around.

The movies only exist for the deaths and between them you have to suffer mind-numbing stupidity, but of course you could argue the same for any Friday The 13th or Halloween flick, though at least those movies had an interesting killer. And an interesting story, for that matter. With each movie they added to the mythology which was interesting and warranted more movies. It was part of their charm and part of their ultimate undoing as well. They kept adding to the story until they imploded into themselves. Freddy Krueger turns out to have a long lost daughter and he got his power from dream demons. The drive behind Michael Myers’ evil is the Thorn cult. Jason Voorhees is some super ultimate demon that can posess people. I haven’t seen all the Saw movies but I’m sure there’s some stupid explanation behind all things Jigsaw.

The problem with the Final Destinations is that it is the same bullshit over and over and over.

1. Main character has a premonition of a terrible accident then saves a small group of people.

2. They find out that they messed with Death’s grand plan and death will be coming back for them one by one.

3. They try to find a way to escape the plan.

4. They think they have avoided death by the end.

5. They all die anyway.

6. *spoilers*

And that is every single fucking Final Destination movie.

My question is, why does the main character have a premonition anyway? What’s the deal there? It is never explained. Could it be that Death feels it’s out of practice and is just fucking with them, giving a select few a shot a life by letting them in on the initial plan, just to kill them in over-elaborate ways later? Death is just a dark shadow in these movies, I don’t know if it has a personality. Maybe if we had a Grim Reaper-looking villain off in the background cracking his knuckles and spouting off some one-liners the movies would have more of a distinct personality. EG, Final Destination 2: “SEE YA LADDER!”

And the motherfucking coroner. Talk about some fucking lazy writing. What is up with that guy? I love Tony Todd as much as the next guy but his presence is ridiculous. Some people have theorized that the coroner is actually death Himself and if you want to buy into that I guess that’s fine, but let’s face it, his real purpose is pure exposition. If it weren’t for his character in the first film no one would be there to explain Death’s grand scheme, laugh creepily, and leave the doomed kids to their business.

The sad thing is that the first Final Destination could have been a very good movie. There’s something interesting and insightful to be found in a movie like this where youth is tragically cut short, and death is unavoidable and unfair. Sure, they touch upon it a little bit here and there in the movies. For example in part 3 one kid causes a scene at a funeral, questioning why the hell someone like Osama Bin Laden could still be alive yet two innocent girls not even of 18 had to die. Okay, it’s a little dated but you get the sentiment. I’m not saying the movies need to be super deep or anything but they’re all just content with the concept and formula that they’ve set up with part one and do it over and over. The only thing that changes are the victims and the cool deaths.

Part 2 is probably the worst one. I know I complained how they don’t attempt to add to the story, but this one actually tried to connect the stories, and did so in a pathetically bad way. They bring a character back and it’s all pointless. Whoopty fucking doo.

By the time they hit the third movie it’s almost like they stopped giving a shit, which, as the series has established itself, is a good thing. The cheesier and stupider the better. The faster they rush through the exposition and get to the kills, the better. And hey, Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Reow.

The fourth one, titled Final Destination 4 (oops I mean THE Final Destination) is the cheesiest, which is why I kind of like it the best. It has a lot more humour, it’s light on the exposition, and the group of survivors pretty much treat looming death as a minor inconvenience. It’s so stupid and dumbed down that it ultimately works to its advantage. For example, you know that racist guy? Check the credits. He’s listed as “Racist guy.” Not even kidding. That just shows how much they don’t care, they can’t even give the characters names. There are also standout performances by brunette girl, douchey guy, and everyone’s favourite, black dude.

The Final Destination movies are stupid, but have some good deaths and are fun. At one point long ago, it could have had potential to be something more. But they made their decisions with how to take the concept and it is what it is. Cheap, dead teenager entertainment. Not particularly a bad thing but when it comes to the genre it is the bottom of the barrel. Either way you bet your ass I’ll be in line to see part 5.

Movie Review: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

 

The makeup effects in the original PLANET OF THE APES film were revolutionary in 1968. The Tim Burton-helmed remake, now a decade old, pushed the art as far as it could go under the masterful control of Rick Baker. Now the newest “Apes” movie, RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES has taken things a step further with visual effects from WETA. The apes look just like apes, act just like apes, but are digital creations that can do things that you probably couldn’t train an ape to do on film in a million years. Besides, training apes seems kind of cruel.

The appeal of these makeup effects in the original as well as the sequels is that the performances of great actors could burst through those ape faces. Many people would associate PLANET OF THE APES immediately with Charlton Heston, but those who have affection for sequels such as “ESCAPE,” “CONQUEST,” and “BATTLE” would unflinchingly tell you the franchise truly belongs to Roddy McDowell, who played Cornelius and Ceaser to great effect. The guy was a fantastic and skilled actor but he could also really ape it up. It was a winning combination and it made the series stand out. But the days of makeup and McDowell are over, and now for the most recent “Apes” film we have CGI and Andy Serkis (no stranger to playing simians), which isn’t a bad trade-off at all.

 

 

It’s sort of a prequel to the 1968 film. But the timeline became so messed up and so full of paradoxes that this could precede that film, it could stand on its own as a complete fresh start, or, Hell, you could probably place it somewhere in-between in an alternate universe. With all the time-and-space-bending presented you could probably even fit in Burton’s film into the continuity somehow. But if you want to say, “hey, this is what happens that led to what we see in the first movie,” then that’s agreeable, and there are some hints scattered about that would fit that frame of mind in place.

The movie begins innocently enough, with scientists experimenting on animals to find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease but things don’t go exactly as planned (which is exactly the same plot of DEEP BLUE SEA by the way). The formula doesn’t work too ideally on humans but it takes to apes very nicely, causing advanced intelligence. Enter Caesar.

We have James Franco in the movie, we have Frieda Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Draco Malfoy, but make no mistake: Andy Serkis is the star. Caesar is the main character, the story is about his struggle, and it is a deeply facsinating study of a primate endowed with extraordiary intelligence; who is blessed and cursed with cognition and self-examination of a man, wondering how and why he is, recogonizing he’s an anomoly, and feeling some entitlement to be a little higher on the food chain.

 

 

It’s not as sci-fi heavy as some of the other movies in this series but it gets the drama right and treats the material seriously and cautiously, avoiding anything too silly. I wouldn’t say there’s much racial or social allegory going on here but it tells the story of the ape uprising very well. You could argue that maybe the intentions of the little revolution shown here aren’t incredibly justified, like, why would the apes turn and mistrust all of mankind just because a few assholes at an animal shelter gave them a hard time? Well, I don’t think that’s entirely the point. Sometimes movies like this just consider what it would be like if our time staying as the most dominant beings on the planet were through. Could be aliens, could be apes. But it’s fascinating since apes are so similar to us, seeming just a little removed from the evolutionary line, so why couldn’t there be an alternate universe where they were in charge and we were the ones in cages? If apes are as similar to us as we think they are then we’d know they wouldn’t want to share the rule of the world.

 

 

A good story was told with modern effects that were very convincing and the drama was very well played out. Andy Serkis was incredible and pulls off a wonderful performance as Ceaser. The references to the original films are fun and not too overbearing, and it pays a much better service to the franchise’s fans than the remake did. It has the same kind of spirit as those movies but it is a fresh take on the general story so whether you’ve seen every single one and know the overall plot detail by detail or whether this is your first venture into the series it successfully satisifies in just about every area. It wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t the best one, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’d love to see more.