Final Destination 2 Review
Death really should have taken a Holiday...
A year after the deaths of the first Final Destination survivors, Kimberly (A.J. Cook) and her friends are heading out on a road trip. After kissing her dad goodbye and promising to behave, she pulls out of the driveway leaving a puddle of transmission fluid behind... a bad omen of things to come. As they enter the onramp of the freeway, she has a horrific premonition of a fatal multiple-vehicle accident involving her and her friends. Terrified and desperate to prevent the unsuspecting motorists behind her from entering the freeway, she blocks the entrance with her SUV and within minutes, she and the confused drivers watch in horror as her premonition becomes reality. They have managed to escape Death... for the moment.
As with the first film, Final Destination 2 centers around an unlikely group of people who, having been spared from a fatal accident, are stalked and disposed of by a vindictive Death. But this sequel lacks everything that made the original so much fun - there is no suspense, no genuine jump-in-your-seat moments, and the story (or lack thereof) doesn't flow.
Final Destination managed to cheat death at the box office and become an overnight sleeper, unfortunately the sequel was DOA upon its conception. Aware they couldn't duplicate the cleverness and originality of its predecessor, the filmmakers opted instead to make the deaths gorier and more fantastical. One in particular will leave you wincing, but for the most part the deaths are blandly familiar to horror fans and with the exception of the freeway accident, sadly lack the wow factor the pre-release publicity promised. They did try to preserve continuity with the first film by reminding viewers of Death's signs and providing a Cyber epilogue of the first group of survivors, but it felt thrown in as an afterthought and bogged the story down even more.
The cast is also a big disappointment. The only interesting character to be found is Clear Rivers (Ali Larter), the sole survivor from the original film who has voluntarily commited herself to a mental institution to keep out of harm's (and Death's) way. After initially refusing to help Kimberly, she reconsiders and leaves the institution to join forces with them. The rest of the survivors includes Nora (Lynda Boyd) and her teenage son Tim (James Kirk); Rory (Jonathan Cherry) a druggie; Kat (Keegan Connor Tracy) a neurotic business woman; Thomas (Michael Landes) the first cop to arrive at the scene of the accident; and Eugene (Terrence Carter) the group's biggest skeptic. Tony Todd reprises his William Bludworth role as an eerily in-the-know undertaker, but he is wasted in a cameo. This unlikely and unlikable bunch band together to stay alive.
The film is presented in both 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and 1.33:1 pan and scan on a two-sided disc - the widescreen side is dual-layered and that is where all of the extra features can be found. There is no edge enhancement, no noticable artifacting and the colours are vivid (especially in the daytime scenes). The transfer is pristine and really gorgeous.
The Dolby Digital 5.1-EX and DTS 6.1-ES soundtracks are fast becoming a staple on New Line Cinema's bigger releases. They are aggressive and stunning, especially during the freeway accident in the film. Dialogue is clear and hiss-free and the rear speakers and back surround are given a workout. Dolby Surround Sound is also offered.
Chapter Stops and Menus - the menus and 15 Chapter Stops are all animated and accompanied by sound effects - navigating is easy and there are loads of help icons everywhere.
Infini Film - allows viewers to jump to bonus material while they are watching the film - a pop-up appears and you have the choice to click on it for interviews, extra footage, etc.
The Terror Gauge - is an interesting 14-minute feature. Three people were asked to watch Final Destination 2 while they were hooked up to machines that monitored their sweat productivity, heart rates, brain activity and body temperature - my own brain and heart reading would have flatlined from boredom, but they seemed genuinely scared and excited.
Cheating Death: Beyond and Back - is an 18-minute feature about near-death experiences. Authors, researchers and lay people discuss the subject.
Choose Your Fate - is silly, but I clicked on it anyway - you are asked to choose one of three cards which tell your fortune: mine said I was hot and would be decapitated by a ceiling fan during dinner.
Fast Track - offers you the option of a subtitle to accompany the Infini Film feature.
Filmmaker Commentary - includes Director David Ellis, Producer Craig Perry, and Screenwriters Eric Bress and J. Mackye Gruber all together discussing the origins of the script, their individual resumes, as well as scene-specific descriptions and filmmaking anecdotes. With so many of them, the commentary never lags and they are all interesting to listen to.
Bits & Pieces: Bringing Death to Life - is a fascinating thirty-minute feature which starts off with Herschell Gordon Lewis, film historian David De Valle and Drew McWeeney from Aint It Cool News discussing the history of gore and blood in horror films, leading up to the filmmakers of Final Destination 2 discussing their film.
Deleted/Alternate Scenes with Commentary - are offered - there are 5 of them with optional commentary.
Music Videos - a music video each from The Blank Theory and The Sounds.
Trailers - for Final Destination and Final Destination 2 are featured as well as a film called Highwaymen.
DVD-ROM content - works, but only if you use your DVD-ROM and the InterActual player that comes with the DVD. Features include Script-to-Screen, web links for deathiscoming.com, infinifilm.com, and Hot Spot which is a New Line website. There are also four Final Destination 2 wallpapers and a game called Chain Reaction.
In their rush to cash in on the success of Final Destination, the filmmakers left out a few of the basics. The first film worked because the characters had good onscreen chemistry and you actually cared about them, the deaths were inventive and took you by surprise, and the idea of a pissed-off Death chasing annoying privileged teens was hugely entertaining - but Final Destination 2 had big shoes to fill and failed. The element of originality has been lost and the boring cast makes the 90 minutes crawl by at a snail's pace. The DVD however is excellent.