Final Destination 5 Blu-ray delivers great video and superb audio in this fan-pleasing Blu-ray release
Survivors of a suspension-bridge collapse learn there's no way you can cheat Death.
For more about Final Destination 5 and the Final Destination 5 Blu-ray release, see Final Destination 5 Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on January 1, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
I'm not sure how to take Final Destination 5. It isn't horror; there isn't anything really scary about it (minus a scene that solidified my stance on Lasik). It isn't a horror-comedy, much as comedian David Koechner and character actor P.J. Byrne want it to be. It doesn't delve into the franchise mythos, subvert established rules of Death's Game, or at long last reveal the force or entity behind the series' life-saving visions. The fifth film's victims aren't all that interesting. The series' prophet, a twisted mortician who knows far too much about Death and its dealings, has yet to drop any big secrets. And, once again, a Final Destination arrives, cleans up at the box office, and departs without actually advancing the story a single step. Oh, the kills are a sick, Rube-Goldbergian blast, as always; the blood and gore is thicker and chunkier than ever, as requested; and watching a fresh batch of walking corpses try to cheat death will keep fans frothing at the mouth, as usual. But me? I'm starting to wonder if it matters anymore.
All signposts and no destination...
Gore hounds and Destination deviants, may I present the latest franchise fodder: overseas internship hopeful Sam Lawton (Nicholas D'Agosto) and his plucky girlfriend Molly (Emma Bell); his best friend and soon-to-be-unhinged co-worker Peter (Miles Fisher, doing his best tipping-over-the-edge Tom Cruise), and his girlfriend Candice (Ellen Wroe); their smarmy, self-serving boss Dennis Lapman (David Koechner), slimy office lackey Isaac (P.J. Byrne) and needlessly hot assistant Olivia (Jacqueline MacInnes Wood); and, last but not least, ladder-climbing warehouse upstart Nathan Sears (Arlen Escarpeta), who really should have been the focus of the fifth film. And so it is that the eight ill-fated workers board a bus for a company retreat, only to plunge into the sea (in various bits and pieces) after a bridge collapse brings an early end to their corporate getaway. But, of course, that's only what happens in Sam's vision, granted to him mere minutes before tragedy strikes. Grabbing anyone willing to listen, and dragging along any straggler to curious to resist, Sam and his seven co-workers escape the jaws of certain death... only to find themselves in Death's all-too-certain crosshairs.
Five films in, five films down, and I still don't know much more than I did when the credits rolled on the first Final Destination. Entertaining as it all tends to be, the series is growing stale; re-staging the same setups and payoffs, rehashing the same thrills and chills, and repeating itself ad nauseum, even to the point of poking fun at its own overworked, overcooked formula. But the joy's in the kills, not the destination. Is it? Once, perhaps. But now? The unpredictable has been shoved aside in favor of the inevitable, the surprises have been replaced by the expected, the jolts have turned to yawns. Even Death seems to be teasing the audience, relying on transparent sleight of hand to distract -- a rusty nail, a puddle of water, a frayed wire -- while concocting an entirely different means of disposal. After five films, though, it's little more than a cheap parlor trick, and the magician isn't trying all that hard to hide the cards tucked up his sleeve. Early on, after taking note of several key differences between the bridge collapse in Sam's vision and the actual collapse, I was convinced director Steven Quale and writer Eric Heisserer were prepping an elaborate franchise game-changer, and I was ecstatic. The fact that Molly survived the collapse in Sam's vision and in the events that followed made the prospect of alternate accidents even more intriguing. Imagine my disappointment when I eventually realized the discrepancies were simply the result of poor attention to detail in the FX department.
There's still hope for the Final Destination phenom, though, and the fifth franchise entry is admittedly stronger in many ways than the fourth. The introduction of kill or be killed moral dilemmas is a solid (albeit underdeveloped) addition to the series, the deaths are fairly inventive (albeit wildly overblown), and only the most diligent Destination diehards will unravel the film's twist ending before it hits full force. In fact, the final fiery minutes almost justify every missed opportunity that precedes them, and may even con you into believing you enjoyed the entire film more than you did. All that said, the Final Destination franchise desperately needs some Death-driven dialysis. Out with the old, in with the new. Who or what is granting a chosen few these visions? Is it Death? Does he get his kicks watching kids try to thwart his plan? Is it some other force? If so, what is it? It's clearly not as powerful as Death, or is it waiting for one of its visionaries to do something specific? Who is William Bludworth (Tony Todd)? How does he know so much about Death? Is he a supernatural agent? A prophet? A doomsayer? Something else entirely? And what about the ripple effect? If Sam and his friends are spared, they must alter the life-and-death trajectories of others around them. Are those people then subject to Death's vengeance? Is the opposing force sparing people like Sam to distract Death from the people it's actually working to save? So many possibilities, so much fertile soil... why isn't it being farmed?
If Final Destination 5 hints at anything it's that there is room for the series to move forward without sacrificing everything that's come before. I know the processes of expanding storylines and dissecting mythologies have traditionally spelled doom for horror sequels, but this is one of the rare franchises in which it could work. With a good script and a sharp director, it could even work wonders. Much as I love the series, I'm starting to grow ambivalent to it all. Beef up Todd's presence, really dig into Death's design, take a look at who or what is planting visions in people's minds, and keep the sick-n-slick death traps coming. Final Destination 6 could be something special. It could reinvigorate the franchise, shock longtime fans, and shakeup the whole mess. Or it could just dish out more of the same, collect its box office pay check, and set the stage for yet another diminishing-returns sequel.
Final Destination 5 goes in for the kill with a slick (but slightly superficial) 1080p/AVC-encoded video transfer that slices and dices with relative ease, glossy CG gore and extremely minor compression mishaps notwithstanding. First and foremost, reds are vivid and pulpy, giving the ol' sticky stuff plenty of visceral punch. Flames, surgical lasers, and explosions follow suit, backed by strong primaries, lifelike skintones and grim reaper blacks. And while the overall palette is fairly bleak, contrast is consistent throughout, as is detail, which boasts an array of fine textures, refined closeups and razor-wire edges. A few brief bursts of almost negligible artifacting caught my eye, but each instance was fleeting. Likewise, hints of ringing and crush may give stringent videophiles pause, but none of it amounts to a serious issue. All in all, the fifth film's video encode is on par with its predecessor, and undeterred fans of the series will get a sick kick out of its high definition presentation.
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track plays it close to the chest... until Death sets his sights on his next victim. The music slowly builds toward a flurry of activity, every little creeeek and reeeek is ear-piercingly clear, every metal-rending tear and explosion hits with tremendous force, and every last pound of flesh, chunk of bone and heap of brain matter slips, spills and pours from channel to channel with stomach-churning glee. LFE output is a bit touch and go, but only by design; Death's presence is felt as much as it's anticipated, kills are deafening sonic delights, and warehouse machinery, collapsing bridges, airplane engines, rattling fans and clattering metal are granted convincing weight and low-end ferocity. Rear speaker activity is a blast too, with enough whizzing blades, screaming wires and chunks of stone hurtling across the soundfield to make Death's dealings more entertaining than they might otherwise be. All the while, dialogue is crisp, clean and clear, without any hiccups or hitches to point to. Quieter scenes haven't been afforded the same sonic TLC, mind you, but the disparity helps the film's intended scares and orchestrated jolts hit harder. Final Destination afficiandos will be thrilled.
Alternate Death Scenes (HD, 16 minutes): What should be the biggest supplemental draw turns out to be the most disappointing extra on the disc. (Not that there are many extras to compete with.) Fifteen of the alternate sixteen minutes is identical to what appears in the cut of the film you know and love (or loathe). Even then, the alternate kills are a bust, are too similar to their original incarnations, and don't pack any gory guilty-pleasure pop.
Circle of Death (HD, 6 minutes): A run-of-the-mill EPK, little of which draws any real blood. Just don't watch it before the film itself; it spoils Final Destination 5's biggest surprise.
Visual Effects of Death (HD, 12 minutes): Split-screen comparisons for two VFX sequences.
Final Destination 5 may be better than the poorly received fourth film, but the series is growing stale. The latest trip down Death's rabbit hole has trouble striking a tone, misses some major opportunities, and doesn't come alive until a great little twist ending comes roaring out of the shadows. The film has some standout moments, and the franchise still has potential, but the next Final Destination needs to step out and head in a new direction. Ah well. If nothing else, Warner's Blu-ray release is a solid one thanks to an excellent video transfer and a sternum-cracking DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. The extras disappoint, but little else does. Here's hoping Final Destination 6 delivers on all fronts, from its AV presentation to its special features to the movie itself.
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In December, New Line and Warner Home Entertainment will release Final Destination 5 on Blu-ray. The latest installment in the popular horror franchise, Final Destination 5 stars Nicholas D'Agosto (Fired Up) as a young man whose advance premonition of a gruesome ...