Pros: great stunts, interesting story, excellent special effects
Cons: story not told well, a couple of lousy actors, contrived script
The Bottom Line: If you like gory movies, this is a good one for you. But, if you're into well-developed characters and a good script, you'd better pass.
Ah yes, yet another movie review from one of my weekend film fests. Along with Malibu's Most Wanted and The Scorpion King, I rented Final Destination 2. Since I hadn't seen the first Final Destination, I was a little worried that we wouldn't be able to follow the gist of the story all that well.
The very beginning of the movie took me a second to figure out what was going on, since I didn't see the first film. Basically, it's the idea that Death has a design that it follows. It doesn't deviate, so if you were supposed to die and didn't, then Death will track you down and take you in a "freak accident." Since the beginning of the film opens with a news story about the one year anniversary of the events that took place in the original Final Destination, it doesn't take too long to catch on. And what you don't catch gets explained to you throughout the film.
THE PLOT Kimberly (A.J. Cook from Wishmaster 3 and 4) is about to drive to Daytona, FL, with three of her friends. As she is leaving, her father sees that she is leaking transmission fluid. While at a red light to get onto the highway, Kimberly has a vision of a major accident. With the good intentions of saving herself, her friends and the people behind her, Kimberly blocks traffic.
Of course, the accident happens just as Kimberly envisioned it. There's a twist that the audience doesn't expect regarding her own car and her friends, so I won't ruin that for you. All I could think about during this accident was, "Do you have any idea of how much this must have cost??" It really is the best accident scene I've ever seen in any movie.
But, I digress.
Kimberly ends up saving herself and eight other people. One by one, the people she saved start dying in some really freaky accidents... not to mention incredibly gory. Kimberly teams up with the cop she saved, Thomas Burke (Michael Landes of Hart's War), and they attempt to save the remaining victims-to-be.
Only by visiting with Clear Rivers (Ali Larter of the original Final Destination), does Kimberly really grasp what is going on. Clear listens to what Kimberly has to say and surprises her by teaming with them to change Death's design.
As we can predict, Kimberly figures out what has to happen so that the remaining victims-to-be can live. Unfortunately, she is too late to save 6 of them. The movie, as predicted, ends with Kimberly alive and well with one of the other victims-to-be (I won't spoil it) at a BBQ. An accident at the BBQ leaves room for Final Destination 3, which I hope doesn't really come out.
THE CHARACTERS / ACTORS First and foremost, Ali Larter needs acting lessons. She is consistently horrible throughout the film. She tries to come off as a bitter, jaded chick who knows how to beat Death. Instead, she comes off as a really bad actress. I haven't seen her in anything else, and this movie assures me that I don't want to go out of my way to do so. On a side note, who the heck would name their kid Clear Rivers?? That's like Emma Snowball, but worse. I bet the writers didn't think that Final Destination was going to do so well, so they gave the heroine a stupid, cheesy name.
Secondly, the fact that Kimberly has these visions is downright bizarre. There is nothing special about her. There is no reason that she should get these visions. It's like she's suddenly psychic, which is completely unbelievable. However, Cook does a good job of the cheesy character she was cast as.
Landes does a good job as the mild-mannered cop. The character, however, isn't very cop-like. It's his interest in the events of last year that gets him interested in the current events. I don't think any cop, however, would take orders from a psycho like Clear, though. It just doesn't make sense nor does it contribute to the story.
The other characters are a myriad of stereotypes. You've got the egotistical playboy who happened to win the lottery, the druggie, the black dude, the yuppy chick, the mom, the good boy, and the pregnant Hispanic woman. That's how they were defined and cast. I think the casting was done well, but the characters could have been more developed in the script. However, this isn't a film that you would watch for plot or characters: It's for the gore.
STUNTS I must give props to Freddie Hice, the stunt coordinator on this film. The stunts were terrific. I mean, really surprising for a movie that I expected to be terrible. The opening car accident is absolutely amazing. It is the best wreck I've ever seen in a film-- and that includes the train wreck in The Fugitive. I can't begin to tally how much the opening scene must have cost.
There are just so many creative ways to die in this film. And they are ALL gory. Dismemberment, getting impaled, being crushed, blowing up... You name it and they probably have it. Some are pretty surprising, too. I won't ruin the deaths by giving you details, but I shouted out loud at certain points.
THE DIALOGUE The dialogue was quite contrived at certain points throughout the film. You could tell that certain things in the script were put there to show how everyone and everything is connected in Death's design. For example, there is a conversation in the car between all of the victims-to-be about how they cheated death thanks to one of the characters from the first movie. One would have been fine. Two would have been okay. But FIVE? Give me a break. That's ridiculous even for a movie.
Unfortunately, this film tries to take itself seriously. I think if it went for something a bit more campy, it would have been a bit more acceptable for the audience. Look at the Evil Dead trilogy. Gory, yet hysterical because it's campy. Final Destination 2 could have definitely been in the same gene and been quite successful at it. You just can't play both sides of the coin in a film such as this.
SPECIAL EFFECTS As I said earlier, there are just so many creative ways to die in this film. The special effects are what make them all realistic, too. I'm sure a lot (especially the various dismemberments) were computer generated, but they look SO real. The blood and guts don't appear fake at all.
I don't want to ruin any of the deaths by describing them, so you're just going to have to take my word on this. If you're into gory films, this is a great one for you to watch. It's not gory like Lord of Illusions, but it's gory because the accidents could happen to anyone.
IN CONCLUSION... I did actually enjoy this movie. That doesn't mean, however, that it deserves more than 3 stars. The script is terrible and most of the actors are awful, but the stunts and special effects make up for those elements at times. It's paced rather quickly and is short. If it were any longer, you'd probably wish that Death was coming after you...
To tell you the truth, I don't especially like horror flicks. I don't recommend them to anyone, unless they really blow me away. I prefer to be scared with a good book, not by something on a screen. Final Destination 2 does a good job with what it was given to work with. If the script and actors were better, the movie would be on my recommended list.
** out of **** Oh, this is getting tiresome already. "Final Destination 2" is a mediocre, stylish, violent sequel to yet another stylish, violent, but all-around surprisingly good original. "Final Destination" had its idea and its cruel sense of humor to back it up when it got, perhaps intentionally, absurd; but the sequel has even less. It seems to have abandoned the concept of using the premise for comedy, and instead most of the laughter comes from the filmmakers and people … more
"Final Destination 2" picks up one year after the original flick ended. By now, all but one of the original survivors of Flight 180 have died in freak accidents. The only survivor, Ali Larter's character, is safely tucked away in a padded cell. The movie begins with, and I know this will shock you, a huge pile-up on the highway. Instead of a young boy having a premonition, it's a young girl this time. She attempts to stop the accident and, another shocker, she survives, as well as a small group … more
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Final Destination 2begins with a well-orchestrated multicar pileup on a freeway--a horrifying accident that turns out to be a premonition, as seen by a young woman (A.J. Cook) who saves herself and several other people by blocking a freeway on-ramp. Thus, as in the firstFinal Destination, a prescient vision disrupts the destined plans of death, and death goes to extreme lengths to correct matters. What makesFinal Destination 2entertaining is that the characters can only survive by learning to recognize the signs of impending doom--and the signs are basically the cinematic foreshadowing that moviemakers use to invoke suspense. This, combined with some elaborately complicated and gruesome deaths, fosters a ghoulish humor that's more entertaining than the smirky self-referentiality ofScream.Final Destination 2doesn't aspire to be a great movie, but trash has its pleasures. Also featuring Ali Larter as the only survivor of the first movie.--Bret Fetzer