The Final Destination -- Film Review

There is no final in "The Final Destination," the fourth installment of New Line's body-dismantling gorefest. The franchise threatens to never end. The new gimmick here is that all the flying body parts and absurd impalements come in 3D. And that's about as inspired as anything gets in this edition. Story and character get chucked to the sidelines as the arena has room for only death scenes.

The film opened Aug. 28, in both 2D and 3D versions, without press screenings -- which makes sense since there isn't much for a critic to do here other than critique the mechanics of the Rube Goldberg deaths.

So here goes: The level of invention by writer Eric Bress and director David R. Ellis -- both making their second movie in the franchise -- is pretty low. An object tips over here, triggering another accident there and soon an entire car wash or movie theater or auto repair shop is filed with flying lethal objects.

There is a slight sense of macabre humor as characters scan ads for a movie called "Till Death Do Us Part" or drink lattes at a Death by Caffeine coffee shop. And 3D does make sharp objects and bloody organs a little more in-your-face to go with those lattes.

A white racist sets himself on fire trying to drunkenly install a burning cross in a black man's front lawn while his car radio blares "Why Can't We Be Friends." Yes, that probably will do for light-heartedness.

The format requires an individual, in this case Nick (Bobby Campo), to experience a premonition of impending disaster, this time at a race track, that seemingly saves him and some friends and strangers from horrific deaths. Only Death feels cheated and continues to stalk the characters, in the order of their avoided deaths, until they are eliminated.

Since Death is never a character -- you were expecting maybe Ingmar Bergman? -- the film lacks a villain. Since nothing apparently can reverse the determination of Death, the only suspense is how characters will die, not how they will be saved.

We don't even mind too much the demise of the racist (Andrew Fiscella) or Nick's strange best bud (Nick Zano), a thorough-going male chauvinist, but you do feel sorry for the cute girls, Nick's girlfriend (Shantel VanSanten) and her pal (Haley Webb). But seeing cute girls getting ground into hamburgers are exactly why young males like this sort of lame entertainment.

The set pieces with the stunts, editing, visual effects, panting music and screaming actors do their jobs efficiently. You can almost sense the high-fives behind the camera. But Death surely needs a holiday. He's tired and running out of ideas.

Opened: August 28 (Warner Bros.)
Production companies: New Line Cinema presents a Practical Pictures/Parallel Zide production
Cast: Bobby Campo, Shantel VanSanten, Nick Zano, Haley Webb, Mykelti Williamson, Krista Allen, Andrew Fiscella, Justiin Welborn
Director: David R. Ellis
Screenwriter: Eric Bress
Producers: Craig Perry, Warren Zide
Executive producers: Richard Brener, Walter Hamada, Sheila Hanahan Taylor
Director of photography: Glen MacPherson
Production designer: Jaymes Hinkle
Music: Brian Tyler
Costume designer: Claire Breaux
Editor: Mark Stevens
Rated R, 82 minutes
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