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One of the filmmakers mentions in the audio commentary that “this movie is the perfect movie for the critics to just jump on”. Dude, sequels in general are just begging to be shot down. Even the lamest ideas sometimes spawn a follow-up, so there’s no need to think this movie was singled out for a beating. The thing is, the original film’s premise, while contrived and almost ridiculous, was actually quite original and interesting, leaving a lot of scope for creativity. The sequel quickly recaptures that formula, gives it a different spin, and goes to work making the action on screen all the more jarring, flamboyant and fun.

Final Destination 2

Movie
The key to this film, like the first, is it’s death sequences. Final Destination featured arguably one of the greatest cinematic deaths in history purely on shock value alone. Those at the helm knew full well they would have to use these bizarre death scenes as the crux of the film, because the audience knew they were coming.

The story is carried on well from the first film, where a young man had a premonition of a disastrous plane crash, decided to disembark at the last minute (with a few classmates in tow) and sure enough the catastrophe unfolded before their eyes. Because they weren’t part of the carnage, “death’s design” had been altered, therefore “death” himself had to make things right again by going after the survivors one by one. This time our heroine, Kimberley (A.J.Cook, who will surely move on to bigger and better things after her turn here) envisages a multiple car pile-up before it occurs. So just like all normal people would do, she stops her car in front of a convoy of other vehicles waiting to enter the motorway so none of them get hurt. The pile-up still occurs, but a host of people who were meant to be involved are left watching on in disbelief. You guessed it, death’s not happy and will try and pick them off (in the order in which they were meant to go) one by one.

The opening sequence is a beauty. The car wreck is carefully constructed to show us the situations of all the main characters and how they were meant to have died, whilst still wowing us with some great special effects, explosions and stunt driving. The four mile stretch of freeway used for the sequence gets the full workout, with vans, cars, motorcycles and logging trucks being smashed into oblivion among the mayhem.

Once the characters realise the events are linked to the Flight 180 plane explosion exactly one year ago, they are all put on alert by the astute Kimberley and the only survivor from the previous year’s disaster, Clear Rivers (Ali Larter, minus whipped-cream bikini, reprising her role). But death finds a way around things and the poor mortals don’t stand a chance, with the various death scenes having to be seen to be believed. Turn away if you’re the slightest bit squeamish with gore, believe me.

Final Destination 2

Running at a brisk 87 minutes, Final Destination 2 never outstays its welcome and minimises the slow points in between the slash fests by some carefully constructed dialogue. The only downside is the characters are often used as a vehicle to explain just how the “death’s design” concept works, for fear of mindless audiences becoming lost in all the convoluted theory. Still, you’ve got enough talent among the largely unknown cast to keep the fast-paced action speeding along, with a finale that is predictable yet well worked in the end.

As far as sequels go you can’t really fault this one. The interesting premise from the original is taken to the limit yet it never really takes itself too seriously, instead going all out for the elaborate death sequences mixed in with some humour and irony. Well worth a look for a quick gore-fest that harks back to the slasher films of the seventies.

Video
The impeccable Region 1 transfer really threw the challenge down to the Region 4 disc, with its superior PAL resolution raising the expectations about the visuals with this release. Thankfully Roadshow don’t let us down, with an alarmingly good video transfer that is up there with the best of them. The first thing you’ll notice is the incredible sharpness mixed with vibrant colours. Skin tones are perfect, the few dark sequences feature brilliant, deep blacks and the print is free from any scratches or dust. This is a sensational 1.85:1 presentation, exactly why we buy DVDs in the first place.

Audio
To go with the outstanding visuals the disc also contains a DTS ES 6.1 soundtrack as well as a Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby 2.0 mix. This film is just prefect for a DTS track and it doesn’t let us down. Right from the massive car crash in the opening sequence the subwoofer kicks in, and is called upon at various stages throughout the film. Surround use is frequent, with everything from ambient noise to full-blown effect and the musical soundtrack belting out of the rears. When comparing the DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks it came as no surprise that the DTS mix was far superior, giving us much more realistic and powerful effects out of the speakers and clearer use of the surrounds. And if you’re willing to push your subwoofer to the limit there is no option but to make the DTS mix your soundtrack of choice.

The dialogue is never drowned out by the powerful effects, which is great because too many soundtracks these days are dominated by the music and other sounds so much so that you can’t really hear the characters clearly. Again, this soundtrack is top notch. Probably the reason to go out and buy a DTS compatible receiver (as well as an extra speaker for the full 6.1 experience), if you ask me.

Final Destination 2

Extras
The Region 1 Infinifilm came packed with extras, which usually don’t all make their way over to the Region 4 release. This time, however, the whole set has been included, giving us some great supplements to enjoy once the film is over. The first is the Infinifilm track, merely called a fact track in the Beyond The Movie section on this disc. A lot of things are covered by this extra subtitle track, though most can be gleaned from the commentary track or the featurettes in the rest of the extras section.

Speaking of the commentary, we have Director David Ellis, his producer Craig Perry and screenwriters J. Mackye Gruber and Eric Bress giving us their thoughts throughout the movie. These guys have a great rapport and give us loads of information about the making of the film and their intentions overall. At times it gets a little bit indulgent but that’s part and parcel of most commentary tracks nowadays.

Inside the All Access Pass section is the first of a number of featurettes, entitled Bits & Pieces: Bringing Life To Death. This thirty-odd minute piece looks at the origins of the slasher and gore flicks from years gone by then moves on to break down some of the visual effects sequences, most notably to do with the elaborate death scenes. This is very interesting to watch, especially the discussions with the effects guys as to how they composed each of the shots.

Next up is a selection of deleted and extended scenes, totaling six in all. These can be viewed with or without commentary and are well worth a look, particularly the short truck chase sequence and A.J.Cook’s hilarious reaction. Rounding out the All Access Pass section are two music videos, from The Blank Theory and The Sounds, as well as trailers for Final Destination 2 and its predecessor.

The Beyond The Movie section, in addition to the fact track, features an in depth, 17-minute documentary entitled Cheating Death: Beyond and Back. This interesting piece looks at real life cases of people being at death’s door but sent back to keep on living. The other lengthy piece here is a nifty featurette called The Terror Gauge, which uses biofeedback and neurology to monitor a viewer’s reaction to certain scenes in the film. It’s interesting to watch them react to what is in front of them, with one guy actually groaning in one of the more graphic moments. Padding out the section is a little game called Choose Your Fate, where you click on one of three cards, giving you an event ranging from winning the lottery to being attacked by a sewer alligator.

In all there’s some real value here, particularly in the form of an informative and entertaining commentary track, some worthwhile deleted scenes and a couple of relevant documentaries. Not a bad little package.

Final Destination 2

Overall
This movie is just plain fun, so you should enjoy the ride even if you pretty much know how it’s all going to pan out. There’s no pretentiousness in any of it, and the death scenes are worth a rental price alone. Couple that with a brilliant video and audio transfer and some worthwhile extras and you’ve got yourself a very high quality disc.


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