Video Verdict: ‘Final Destination 5’

Nicholas D’Agosto plays a character doing his best to cheat death in “Final Destination 5.”

It’s a slow week for home video, as studios decided to release only a handful of major titles between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Final Destination 5

2 stars (out of four)
Rated R for strong violence, gruesome accidents, and some language
New Line Cinema
Available on: DVD, Blu-ray and digital download

The “Final Destination” films have been around since 2000, and there is no foreseeable end to the franchise, despite 2009’s entry being heralded as the last. How do filmmakers continue a trip that was supposedly over? They make a prequel, of course.

That gives “Final Destination 5” the dubious honor of becoming redundant on two fronts. First, prequels have been wildly overdone. Second, there hasn’t been anything original about this franchise since the first film laid the groundwork.

Despite what fans may argue, the only real attraction to a “Final Destination” movie is watching the characters die under bizarre circumstances, most depicted in long, drawn-out sequences recalling the workings of a Rube Goldberg machine. Eleven years ago, that concept – along with the idea that death would not be “cheated” – was fun and somewhat inventive. Today, it’s a reminder of how shallow Hollywood can be.

As in the previous “Final Destination” flicks, part five starts with the characters escaping a situation where they were supposed to die. Sam Lawton (Nicholas D’Agosto) and his co-workers are travelling to a retreat when he has a premonition that the suspension bridge their bus is crossing is about to collapse. Panicked, he exits the vehicle, convincing a handful of his friends to follow him. Sure enough, a huge section of the structure falls into the water, but only after Sam and his pals have escaped.

Shortly afterward, the survivors begin to fall victim to gory and bizarre tragedies, including a gruesome death at a massage parlor. Director Steven Quale does a reasonably good job building to each bloody accident but, for anyone who’s seen the previous films, the suspense will be minimal. At least the movie bares all the hallmarks of its ancestors. There’s plenty of blood, there’s a smattering of comedy and the cast is mostly young and attractive. D’Agosto is joined by Emma Bell, Miles Fisher, Ellen Wroe, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, P.J. Byrne, Arien Escarpeta and David Koechner.

What’s missing is anything surprising or thoughtful. “Final Destination 5” is essentially a color-by-numbers effort in which Quale and screenwriter Eric Heisserer went out of their way to recreate the previous films, varying little but the way that the characters die. The result is a worn-out, grisly mess that’s recommended only for “Final Destination” diehards (pun intended).

DVD extras are limited to a short, making-of feature. The Blu-ray release, which also includes a DVD copy of the film, has several additional extras, including alternate scenes and special effects split-screen sequences.

 

ALSO OUT THIS WEEK

“Apollo 18”: Horror film based on the premise that America’s cancelled Apollo 18 mission was actually launched, but failed to return to Earth. The movie is presented in the “found-footage” documentary style popularized by movies like “The Blair Witch Project” and “Paranormal Activity.” Warren Christie, Ryan Robbins and Lloyd Owen star. Directed by Gonzalo Lopez-Gallego.

“The First Grader”: True story of an 84-year-old Kenyan man who fights to obtain the education he couldn’t afford as a youngster. Directed by Justin Chadwick.

“Shameless” – The Complete First Season: First 12 episodes of the Showtime dramedy featuring William H. Macy as the alcoholic single father of six children. The series also stars Emmy Rossum, Jeremy Allen White, Cameron Monaghan, Emma Kenney and Ethan Cutkosky. Season two is set to air in early January.

“The Borgias” – The First Season: Showtime drama focused on the controversial Papal family that held power in the Catholic Church during the Renaissance. Jeremy Irons stars as Pope Alexander VI. Francois Arnaud, Holliday Grainger, David Oakes and Aidan Alexander also star.

“A Good Old Fashioned Orgy”: Jason Sudeikis plays a perpetual party boy who decides to organize an orgy with his friends. Leslie Bibb, Lake Bell, Michelle Borth, Nick Kroll and Tyler Labine also star. Written and directed by Peter Huyck and Alex Gregory.

“Hostel – Part III”: Direct-to-video sequel to the ongoing “Hostel” franchise. This time, four guys attending a bachelor party in Vegas find themselves at the heart of a horrifying game of torture. Brian Hallisay, Kip Pardue, John Hensley, Chris Coy, Skyler Stone and Sarah Habel star. Directed by Scott Spiegel.

“Brighton Rock”: British thriller about an up-and-coming gangster (Sam Riley) who seduces a waitress (Andrea Riseborough) in order to prevent her from implicating him in a murder. Also stars John Hurt and Helen Mirren.

“The Pool Boys”: Independent comedy about working-class guys (Matthew Lillard and Brett Davern) who start an escort service in a mansion they don’t own. Rachelle Lefevre and Effren Ramirez also star. Directed by J.B. Rogers.

“The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret” – Series 1: IFC comedy about a temp worker (David Cross) who fakes his way into a high profile sales job. Will Arnett, Blake Harrison, Sharon Horgan and Amber Tamblyn also star.

Looney Tunes Super Stars – Pepe Le Pew: Seventeen short cartoons featuring Warner Brothers’ love struck skunk. Included is “For Scent-imental Reasons,” the 1950 Academy Award winner for best animated short.

“Jersey Shore” – Season 4: With the fifth season of this popular reality series debuting in January, producers are inviting fans to relive season four, which followed the infamous cast to Italy.

 

– Forrest Hartman is an independent film critic whose byline has appeared in some of the nation’s largest publications. E-mail him at forrest@forresthartman.com.

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