It is impressive how each subsequent movie in this series manages to care less and less about how things happen, but more about when they happen. THE Final Destination, the ridiculous and confusing title aside, begins with a new set of teens waiting to be picked off, this time at a race track.

The series began on a plane, moved to the expressway, then to an amusement park, and now we’ve arrived at a stock car event. About the only way to keep moving up on the “crazy” scale would be a space shuttle launch at this point.

Stock characters this time include a racist, cowboy, auto mechanic, four teens being played by non-teens, an alcoholic, and whiney mother of two. Death has a plan for them, yet for four movies, it is still unexplained why death continually gives someone a vision to save anyone in the first place. Apparently, death has to have fun too.

In all regards, this is a terrible movie. Director David R. Ellis returns to the director’s chair after helming Final Destination 2, and does nothing of merit. It must be hard to write, direct, or act in a movie like this where the only concern people have is getting to the next death.

That said, writer Eric Bress (another Final Destination 2 alumni) doesn’t seem to care about anything other than death. A serious incident inside a hospital happens, yet no one seems to care. No one at the hospital seems to be panicking, and everyone moves on. One of the main characters loses her boyfriend, and gleefully continues shopping without a care. These are some emotionally bottled up kids.

At the very least, THE Final Destination does have the highest number of kills, coming in at 11. A few are creative, including one at a pool (based on a real life event; surely the people involved are happy about that) and another involving a tow truck. A car wash death is teased but ultimately not as expected.

Reviewing this series as a movie is pointless. It comes down to reviewing the kills, and figuring out if they are worth the price. In this case, sure. Home video lets you skip the inane dialogue (“I have my eye on you!”) and get to the meat of the movie, and they are creative enough despite the somewhat miserable special effects. The series can still provide what is promises. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Movie]

New Line offers up a generally impressive VC-1 effort, brought over from an entirely digital source. While the opening shot, that of stock cars barreling towards the viewer, will draw some ire for its blown out whites and overtly digital nature, everything from there is perfectly acceptable. Wide shots of the crowd are clean, with cheering fans defined in front and in the back. Colors are bold yet natural, with only a single instance of bleeding inside the mall right at the hour mark. The bright red banners hanging from the ceiling are too much.

Details, including crisp individual hair strands and facial definition, are effective in close-ups. Objects in the environments stand out, the clean, smooth image digital provides never particularly apparent. No instances of ringing or artificial enhancement are noted.

In fact, the only major complaint is video noise, first noted inside the coffee shop after the initial disaster. It re-occurs in any sequence with limited light, from outside a house to a return trip to the racetrack. It occasionally leads to significant artifacting, such as Nick O’Bannon’s shirt at 53:08. It is a shame too, because the black levels, despite an instance or two of crush, are routinely deep and fill the screen with depth. Their impact is lowered by a glaring layer of digital artifacts. A stock shot of the moon, stretched vertically with significant banding, is caused more by budgetary cheapness than transfer problems. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Video]

In theaters, the aggressive surrounds were there to add to the 3-D effect. Without that additional help, this DTS-HD effort is somewhat overdone, if still effectual. Surrounds are constantly filled with activity, from flying body and car parts to ambiance, such as the car shop.

O’Bannon’s dreams are loaded with swirling objects and rumbling bass, although at times, the objects never seem to appear to swing behind the viewer along with the audio. The generic score and peppy soundtrack is mostly limited to the front channels.

The opening race is of course loaded with activity, the stock cars furious engines catching on the low-end and the rears. Explosions, with the exception of a tow truck, are forceful, their debris sent front to back accurately. A car wash makes it sound as if the audience is there with Haley Webb as the brushes whip up against the vehicle. Dialogue and screams are mixed well amongst the music and general insanity. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]

The dubious studio policy of rental exclusives continues. This rental copy contains no extras beyond unskippable trailers. When a retail version is obtained, the extras will be evaluated. [xrr rating=0/5 label=Extras]


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