Franchise films, especially ones that venture past a third film, generally devolve into parodies of what was once intended. Unless the writing is solid on each sequel, the story becomes overly convoluted, and so self referential that it could cause nausea in some viewers. In the case of Final Destination, one really solid sequel was released, followed by a third sequel that was completely sub-par, yet surprisingly watchable, especially when compared to the fourth, and supposed Final entry into the series. I don’t think anyone was surprised when they announced that a fifth film was in production, despite the title of the previous film suggesting a conclusion. The lukewarm reception the last sequel was met with upon it’s release, seems to have diminished the usual excitement that surrounds the series. The opportunity to rekindle the original magic was put in the hands of a virtually green director. Would he seize it? Or turn in another juvenile flop, as most people were expecting? Well, that would depend on who you ask.
Critics appear to be split down the middle. Some have enjoyed the hell out of it, some have panned it as more of the same. The general consensus will probably be somewhere in between, though if you were to check IMDB or RT, audience members who have enjoyed the film far outnumber those that have not. Personally, I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining and clever part 5 actually was. This could have been a real crap-fest, much like the last one, but instead, it seems to be a return to form for a once solid concept. The characters were interesting for the most part, each with their own little personality quirks that lend hints to the nature of their demise.
The reason that people keep flocking to these films is most assuredly the deaths. There’s not any sort of continuity to speak of, or really any returning characters, sans Clear Rivers, and Tony Todd as the coroner. The inventive ways to knock characters off, is certainly the star of the show. After 4 sequels though, it was getting stale. By the time the fourth film came around, the deaths became gimmicky, rather than suspenseful, largely due to the 3D aspect of the film being tacked on, to cash in on the trend. The deaths in the first couple of films, was more about the setup than anything else. You’re presented with all of the items that could possibly cause a death, and just when you think you’ve figured out what’s going to happen, they pull the carpet out from underneath your feet, utilize all of the hints, but in a much different way than you thought they would. Much of that had been lost in the later sequels, but it seems to be have been implemented in a much more effective way this time around. It felt good, anticipating the end result, rather than waiting for the next thing to be hurled toward the screen.
Another point to credit FD5 with is the usage of 3D. I generally grumble to myself if a film is being in released in 3D, because a few exceptions aside, 3D films do nothing for me other than giving me a headache. The 3D effects are gimmicky, they have to be, it’s 3D after all. Thankfully, such was not the case this time around. I actually enjoyed much of the 3D scenes. It was mildly tiresome during long scenes of dialog, but more than made up for it during scenes of carnage.
The ending of the film is what I want to talk about most, but I’m trying my best to remain as spoiler free as possible. Ted and I went to see this film, along with my brother in-law, at a mostly empty midnight screening. It was clear when we were heading to the car, that I was more impressed than either of them. The ending worked for me. It felt clever, when they could have half-assed it. I have no doubt that more sequels will be made, and that’s a real bummer. The note that the 5th sequel in this saga ends on, would be a perfect note to close out the series forever. It’s not going to work for everyone, but I feel like most people will feel satisfied.
Chance are, if you’ve found some sort of enjoyment with any of the previous installments, you’ll probably enjoy this one. If you’ve hated the previous films, there’s nothing this time around that’s going to make you think otherwise. It’s a solid franchise sequel, and is definitely the best in the series since Part 2.