Final Destination 2

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"There are no known survivors "

Aug 13, 2011

On the 26th of August the Final Destination series returns to cinema screens with its 5th entry. We contiue our look back at the series with the 2rd film.

Final Destination 2 is proof that sequels can be better than the original. This film is the pinnacle of the series taking all the best elements and dumping the worst. Actually showing links to the prior movies and expanding on the mythology of Death and its plan I look back fondly at this film with a twinge of sadness that this is where the fun stops.

I hang on to the original Final Destination and in conversations tout it as the better entry but in truth part two is near flawless in all aspects. Everything is bigger and better. When it comes to re-watching the films this is the one I return to the most and I never seem to tire of it.

Set one year after the events of the first film we join teenager Kimberly who manages to avert death after a premonition of a high way pile up. One by one all the survivors appear to be dying of in strange accidents and Kimberly tries to track down the survivors of a similar event (that of Final Destination 1). As things play out the survivors team up and actually seem to have found a way to cheat death once and for all.

Let's begin with the opening highway pile up which is one of the most thrilling action scenes ever captured on screen. Amazingly there is so much happening on screen without it ever becoming confusing. This scene puts anything from the rest of the series to shame, you'd expect each film to try and outdo the last but that hasn't been the case Most films that open with an event so grand struggle to keep our attention but Final Destination manages to keep our interest throughout.

With looking back at the films in this franchise it does seem that they are formulaic and predictable. A group of survivors survive an accident and are killed off one by one, yet this is the only film with an ounce of originality. While things do start on the same footing we get twists on the mythology that really gives the film an edge.

Having a direct tie to the original film makes this a true sequel whereas the rest of the series is just same shit different place (thank you Die Hard 2 for that saying). Tony Todd is an icon of horror and really gives the film weight with his spooky mortician and really should have remained a staple of the franchise. Once the film brings back Ali Larter as Clear the film starts to develop a fresh edge. Having her character explain how to beat death moves the film forward without needing the new set of characters to spend useless time trying to figure out what the audience already knows (just like in part 3). This allows for more elaborate death scenes and a change to the formula.

I don't want to give too much away as this really is the only entry with some originality (bar the first that invented the concept) let's just say that deaths plan is different and new rules are established.

The death sequences in this are some of the best in the series and unfortunately seem to be the catalyst for the decline in the series. Everything here is more elaborate with scenes ramping up the tension to uncomfortable levels. When you ask most fans what their favourite kills where chances are the majority come from this flick. FD2 seems to be remembered more for its kills than its actual storyline which the following films seem to have taken to heart. More kills, less story. That's where things went wrong. The reason these kills worked was because the characters were developed into more than just cannon fodder. As well rounded potentially real world people we want them to survive. That is what horror is. As we moved on in the series we got cartoon representations of people such as the pervert, the Goth, the racist. I just didn't care for the characters after this film.

I only really had one gripe with this film and that was the ending that came out of nowhere. The conclusion to the main story is perfectly handled but we are treated to a strange epilogue that doesn't fit the tone that had preceded it. Above I mentioned how the characters were well developed and treated as nothing more than fodder yet the ending of this one sets up the films that follow. Ending with the death of a character it descends in slapstick that actually marred my experience with this film the first time I saw it. If the film has ended 2 minutes earlier it would have been flawless, shame.

I've been extremely vague with this review for a reason as most of the fun comes from the way the film manages to surprise you. I've heard that the next film is on par with this film and it really has me anticipating the release. Let's hope the franchise can get back to this standard.

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