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"Final Destination"

Directed by James Wong.
Written by Glen Morgan, James Wong and Jeffrey Reddick. 
Starring Devon Sawa and Ali Larter.
Release Year:  2000 
Review Date:  3/19/00 



That was the sound made here at my apartment last night, upon learning that St. John's, my pick to lose in the NCAA final to Duke, lost to Gonzaga in their second round contest.  Because I had St. John's in that position in all five of my tournament pools, I decided last night to go out dancing to rid my mind of the amount of money I had just thrown away for the umpteenth consecutive year betting on that damned tournament.  And, I must admit, I was well entertained:  I got to attend Nation, a club in southeast DC, and witness an unintentionally bisexual freak sandwich featuring Bellview regular Tchaka "Glue" Owen, Sarah "Pasty White Ass" Johnson, and a 6'3" white guy who was eyeing up Tchaka--the, um, meat of the sandwich--like he was Thanksgiving dinner.  Funny least, to me.  I don't know if I can say the same about Tchaka!

To continue ridding myself of the bad feelings harnessed by the St. John's loss, I decided to skip the first NCAA game of Sunday afternoon to go check out "Final Destination", the movie that you've seen previews for where this kid finds a way to see the future and figure out which of his friends is going to die next following a plane disaster.  Angela "Hard Edged" Harrell and I took in the matinee feature, and ironically, the movie fit that billing.  The setup of this story is a good one:  a class of high school students from New York is getting ready to fly to Paris for a ten-day field trip when one of the students, a kid named Alex, has a vision while sitting on the plane before it departs.  In his vision, Alex sees the death of everyone on board in an explosion caused by unseen forces on the plane.  Panicked by the vision, he goes a little loco and de-boards the plane, to the sudden horror of his flightmates.  A few other students and a teacher leave the plane, and as they try and comfort Alex and his newfound craziness...the plane takes off, and suddenly explodes.

Thinking that Alex is a clairvoyant, the other survivors of the accident slowly come to grips with the death of their schoolmates but have bitter feelings towards the person who ironically saved their lives.  Then, following the apparent suicide of Alex's best friend and survivor of the accident, Alex decides to try and figure out why he is having these visions, and why eventually, his friends are dying one by one under mysterious circumstances.  Naturally, it is the grim reaper, and Alex must figure out how to intervene with death's "design" before all of his friends--not to mention himself--are killed.

A great setup, but this film gets even more predictable than the storyline itself would normally allow by spoon feeding us its death scenes (with the exception of one:  look out for that bus!) and filling in little clues here and there as to how each person will die in each scene.  Example:  rather than just letting the teacher, Ms. Ludin, die, we have to watch her put the knives in just the right place, light the burner at just the right time, and allow for the vodka in her coffee cup to spill in just the right place on her that her computer monitor can explode, throwing glass into her neck, so she can bleed all the way into the kitchen, so the blood can catch on fire, so when she falls onto the floor in the kitchen the knives fall into her chest, so that when the blood--now on fire!--gets to the kitchen, the burner catches the enlarged sparks and the entire house bursts into flames.  Me, I would have just gone with the knife in the chest part, but NOOOO....we've got to spend 10 minutes with this woman!

The flip side of that is that we know that these folks are all gonna die, so it can be fun trying to figure out how it happens next.  And, like most horror movies of this type, every single thing in the movie is 10-15 times louder than it is in real life.  Turning on the aforementioned burner, for example, sounds not much different than when John Mclaine blows up half of Nakatomi Plaza in "Die Hard"...except, it is just a fucking burner!  The characters are nondescript, just the way they should be, since we know they are gonna die horribly anyway.  The special effects are good for a low budget movie like this, and some of the scares are genuine.  The most important scare you should know about is that if you are planning to fly soon, I would skip this movie, because the image it creates in its first ten minutes is real-life scary:  what if the plane you are about to board tomorrow is gonna blow up?  You'll be thinking about that the whole way to the airport.  Oh, and Tony Todd--the guy who starred in "Candyman"!--is in the movie for only about two minutes, but I loved his two minutes and his was the only funny scene in the movie.

But, overall, you've been there before, and you won't gain much by seeing this film.  Angela, who gave this movie a matinee as well, found herself more concerned about a balding man sitting in front of her who was picking at his bald spots for almost the entire 90 minutes than the actual movie.  If anything, it goes down easy and you can go ahead with your life almost immediately after leaving the theater.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09