The fourth film in the series was released both flat and in 3D, and the filmmakers made sure every gory splotch, tear, and disemboweling was rendered in your face (albeit through digital rather than more grotesque practical effects). The opening title sequence recreates X-ray versions of the series’ most hideous kills, and sets up the film’s appropriately grisly, tongue-in-cheek tone.
Less nasty than Party 3 but still ridiculously creative in the death department, Part 4 was written and directed by the same team responsible for Part 2, the weskest of the first two sequels, but one gets the impression Part 4 was rushed to fill in a 2009 Halloween 3D date with no plan whatsoever (and when it was clear its quality was weaker than prior sequels, it was dumped into theatres on Labor Day weekend).
Part 4 is completely detached from the original characters save for an observation made by one of the five core survivors: after an avid Google search, it’s discovered that each person reported to have missed a near-death experience subsequently died in some freak accident.
As we all know, Google can’t possibly be wrong, and like Wikipedia, it’s the definitive word on pseudo-science freakology, so clearly the quintet is doomed to die horribly (which they all do, according to the theatrical cut that’s presented on the standard DVD edition).
The problem with Eric Bress’ script (much like his equally clunky Butterfly Effect), is that besides a gimmick and a hook, the film is just a series of flash-backs and flash-forwards with zero character development. With the exception of security guard George Lanter (Mykelti Williamson), a man still struggling but living with the loss of his wife and daughter from his own drunk driving incident, the rest of the characters are thoroughly disposable. The remaining four are twentysomething nothings whose lives will not be missed by the time the end credits roll.
Like Part 2, the film begins with an elaborate series of car crashes, although in place of a highway, it’s a stock car racing track that’s turned into chaos when some grease, gas, and a loose screwdriver create some epic carnage. Everyone dies in Nick’s daydream, which is why he coerces his friends and others to escape from the stadium and avoid a grisly mess. Nick also walks away with a bit of foresight that manifests itself with sudden flash-forwards, but all he sees are cryptic objects that swirl and twirl in 3D towards the audiences.
Each episode ignites a race against time to decode and warn the intended victim, so the bulk of this perfunctory Final Destination consists of sudden warnings, racing to the intended vctim, and death, leaving the last three characters in a state of artificial bliss until a final freak accident sends a heavy truck towards their craniums, ruining their espresso break.
The standard DVD edition contains short scene trims and brief deleted material (including alternate, less wet edits of a few deaths) on Side A, but it’s all mostly useless fodder that adds nothing to the banal characters. More irritating for fans, though, is the retention of two planned but incomplete alternate endings exclusive to the Blu-ray edition. One involves a gas cannister and a big industrial air conditioning unit on a crane, the other a ridiculously brief double-death by escalator gears, and both finales were dumped for something more in tune with the finales of Parts 1 and 2.
Those willing to pay extra for the BR edition will enjoy the deleted scenes (7 mins.), the two alternate endings (4 mins.), and the following featurettes: “Bodycount: The Deaths of The Final Destination” (22 mins.),” Racecar Crash and Mall Explosion” (11 mins.), all in HD. There’s also a teaser for the 2010 Nightmare on Elm Street remake, and the obligatory digital copy of the film.
Whether it’s an error or a lousy down-conversion from the HD master, the entire DVD contents are soft, and lack the sharpness that’s normal for the format. (Even more baffling is the Whiteout trailer that’s presented in mono.)
The 3D versionon Side B is adequate (at beast one gets a sense of depth rather than an outright headache), but the audio mix is banal; the bass frequencies are lame, Brian Tyler’s superb score sounds flat, and the Dolby mix has barely any dynamic kick – which is idiotic, considering the prior films have punchy Surround Sound mixes.
Within the Final Destination franchise, Part 4 is the weakest of the lot, but its impact has been crippled by a badly mastered DVD edition that seems to have been authored purely to push buyers into the BR camp. Isolating premium extras between formats was expected, but a sub-standard transfer is loathsome.
Sequel: Final Destination 5 [M] (2011), because the world demanded it!
© 2010 Mark R. Hasan